Daniels talks military, love of radio

Published 8:21 am Monday, March 26, 2018

Born, raised, and living in Middlesboro, Gary Daniels is just one person in a long line of natives to the Magic City that has an interesting story to tell, and he is the focus of the latest Local Folks.

Now a radio broadcaster for Lincoln Memorial University, Daniels is a military veteran and a world traveler.

Daniels joined the United States Air Force at the age of 19. He was stationed in Montana and later in the U.S. territory of Guam.

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“That was an adventure, to travel to the Western United States and to see the country. I think America is very layered in its many cultures and its many experiences. And to experience, literally, the real West, and especially that flavoring of the real West in Montana was an adventure. And being stationed in the U.S. territory of Guam — that was an adventure. There is a lot of history in both places,” said Daniels.

While stationed in Montana, Daniels worked at a remote site for Strategic Air Command in hospitality.

When asked about his biggest memory regarding his time in the service, he stated that “being part of something that’s bigger than you — you realize that you’re an American, especially when you’re overseas. This is an apolitical statement — you realize you’re an American and you share this sense of being an American with people from all walks of life from all across the country from different social, economic backgrounds. You realize we’re uniquely American. It’s just a fantastic sense of belonging, and you see that. There is a fantastic microcosm of America in the military.”

Another memory Daniels vividly recalls is his time in the Honor Guard while stationed in Guam. He primarily worked in funerals. Daniels stated that the base would receive the remains of MIA and POW service men and women from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Guam was the first U.S. territory in which the remains would land.

“There would be this group of Americans honoring the return of Americans coming back…those events were very solemn,” said Daniels.

He also stated that being aboard the aircraft that carried the caskets of the service members, with the flag draped over them, carried a significant impact.

“To see the caskets holding the remains of G.I.’s left something with you,” he said.

Daniels also traveled to Japan and Taiwan of his own accord due to his curiosity for travel and the culture.

“Tokyo is the New York of the Far East,” he said.

Today, Daniels works as a radio broadcaster at WLMU 91.3 at the Harrogate campus. As a child, radio broadcasting always interested him.

As a child in the 1970s, Daniels would listen to the modern music of the time on local station WFXY and call in requests. He recalls being thrilled at hearing the music you personally asked for come through the radio. He also had a passion for shortwave radio which allowed him to listen to broadcasts from overseas. He enjoyed listening to them, even if they were in a different language.

Later, Daniels would also listen to WDBX, which was a station in Clinton, Tennessee, that heavily featured bluegrass — for which Daniels developed a great affinity. Eventually, he would volunteer at the station during his free time and was later offered a job because of his dedication and hard work. Over time, Daniels moved back to Middlesboro, where he still resides, and has been working at LMU since 2011.