“I was never going to join the military, I was never going to be
a pilot,” said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Bud Daniel, an AV-8B Harrier
pilot and logistics officer for Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 542. “I
thought I was going to be an archaeologist when I was little, got
into science when I went to college and wanted to be an engineer.”
A native of Coopersburg, Pennsylvania, Daniel dreamed of being a
pilot, but accepted defeat early on due to his bad eye sight.
“I had always wanted to be a pilot but I knew my eye sight would
stop that from happening,” said Daniel. “My dad was a pilot in the
Marine Corps and I looked up to him for it. It was one of my dreams
and I didn't think it was going to be something I could do.”
Daniel was coming up on his senior year of college unsure of what he
wanted to do with his life and began to look into the military as an
“The turning point for me was when I did an
internship at Lycoming Engines the summer after my junior year of
college,” said Daniel. “I thought I would be helping design aircraft
or engines but it turned out that a lot of engineers design very
specific components and it drove me crazy. They do great things at
that company but I just couldn't do it.”
It was when Daniel
discovered that he could get the corrective eye surgery necessary to
be a pilot that he began to accept his dream of being a pilot as a
“I asked my parents for money,” said Daniel. “I had
never done that before and thought I never would. At that point I
paid my way through college and got by on my own, but in this
situation they helped me out to get the surgery done.”
his vision improved and sights set on becoming a pilot, Daniel
decided to join the Marine Corps and begin his career.
dad was a Marine and there was a certain appeal of the Marine
Corps,” said Daniel. “The can do and tip of the spear attitude drew
Daniel said becoming a pilot was something he really
had to work toward. All of the memorization and concepts that were
constantly changing was like having to relearn how to learn.
With training well underway, Daniel went on to meet another
fellow pilot during flight school in Corpus Christi, Texas, who
would later fly in the same unit as him.
“He's a very upbeat
guy who enjoys laughing and knows how to create a good time out of
any situation,” said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Jason Wright, an AV-8B
Harrier pilot with VMA-542. “He genuinely enjoys flying and while
having a good time still stays focused on the task at hand.”
Daniel takes the opportunities to enjoy the flights when he can
and make memories that will last a lifetime.
“The first time
I soloed an aircraft was in a T-34 and there was a big cloud in
front of me,” said Daniel. “Being able to cloud surf and fly upside
down for the first time by myself was sensational. Later that flight
I opened the canopy and felt like someone from World War I.”
Daniel's sense of enjoyment for flying is a bridge for other pilots
to remember why they do what they do.
“When you fly you can
tell a lot by someone's tone about how they're doing,” said Wright.
“He always brings spirits up during flight, makes things much less
stressful and allows us as pilots to focus on what's necessary.”
Wright said Daniel is a very good leader who genuinely cares
about his Marines and looks out for their best interests no matter
To Daniel, being a pilot wouldn't be the same
without the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps makes flying second to
none through the bonds he has formed.
“It means much more for
me to be a pilot for the Marine Corps,” said Daniel. “I went to
Officer Candidate School with some of the guys on the ground and
it's so much more personal for me to perform my best.”
By U.S. Marine Corps LCpl. Joseph Abrego
The U.S. Marines
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