James Daniels III, 88; Survived Friendly Fire After Pearl Harbor

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Retired Navy Capt. James Daniels III, 88, one of three pilots who survived a barrage of friendly fire several hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, died June 20 in Honolulu of natural causes.

Daniels was one of the few U.S. pilots in the air on the day of the attack and he was also in the air above Tokyo Harbor in the war’s final days in 1945.

Shortly after the Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941, Daniels was one of six pilots who searched unsuccessfully for the withdrawing Japanese attack fleet and then was directed to land at Ford Island.

Although the arrival of the six U.S. planes had repeatedly been broadcast to American ships in Pearl Harbor, panicky sailors fired when they heard the aircraft overhead and shot down all but Daniels’ plane.


The Navy pilot, who retired in 1970 after 33 years of service, logged 4,500 hours, mostly flying off aircraft carriers.

He flew 110 combat missions during World War II and Korea, earning such awards as the Legion of Merit with Gold Star and Combat V, Distinguished Flying Cross and six Air Medals.