On August 30, 2012, Col. Ronald W. McDaniel retired from the Arkansas Air National Guard. His retirement ceremony was held at the Little Rock Air Force Base theater on August 4, 2012.
McDaniel, who most recently served as the 189th Airlift Wing Maintenance Group Commander, closed out a military career that began in 1972 as an enlisted airman. He graduated from Crossett High School, Crossett, Arkansas in 1970 and attended the University of Arkansas at Monticello, Arkansas beginning in 1971, prior to entering the United States Air Force later in August 1972.
His first military assignment was with the 314th Medical Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base as an enlisted member in 1972. His job title was Medical Administrative Technician apprentice, and he served until February 1979. At that time, he separated from active duty and joined the 189th Medical Squadron at the rank of Staff Sergeant as a Drill Status Guardsman.
In 1984 McDaniel received his commission as a Second Lieutenant and was assigned to the 189th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (CAM) in the Drill Status position of aircraft maintenance officer.
In 1986 he was made executive officer for the squadron and served in this capacity until 1994. In this position he reached the rank of Captain.
In 1994 he was selected for a full-time position with the Arkansas Air National Guard as an aircraft maintenance officer, and transferred from the Postal Service to the Air National Guard. At the same time, he was selected to be the Commander of the 189th Aircraft Generation Squadron. He was promoted to Major in 1995 and served as Commander of Aircraft Generation Squadron until assuming the dual position of Supply Management Officer and Chief of Supply in 1997.
In January 2003, he was selected for the position of Commander of the 189th Logistics Readiness Squadron. In April 2004, he assumed the position as Commander of the 189th Maintenance Squadron where he served until June of 2008, at which time he assumed his current position as Commander of the 189th Maintenance Group.
In May of 2009 McDaniel made history in the wing by being the first African-American full-bird colonel. The 189th traces its roots back to 1925 where the force was all male and all white until the early 1970s.
"When I became a full-bird colonel I think that added a lot more sensitivity to diversity in this organization," McDaniel said. "If you don't have a program to entice minorities and women to come in and provide opportunities for them, for advancement, you will lose out. I feel it has absolutely changed for the better."
His military awards include the Meritorious Service Medal (First Oak Leaf Cluster), Air Force Commendation Medal and the Air Force Achievement Medal, and all were awarded for exemplary performance.
When asked what he felt was his biggest accomplishment while at the 189th, he felt that his sense of fairness to all took precedence.
"I feel my biggest accomplishment while being here at the 189th was instilling a sense of fairness wherever I went as far as treating people," McDaniel said. "I always try to treat people fairly based upon the circumstances. I also treat people respectfully. If you want respect, you're going to have to give it."
In October 2005, McDaniel volunteered for Hurricane Katrina relief support. During that operation he lived for three weeks in Port Sulfur, Louisiana, which is about one hour south of New Orleans. The experience is something that has further motivated him to become more involved in his own community.
"McDaniel has a reputation as a 'people person'," Col. Steve Eggensperger, 189th Airlift Wing commander said. "He loves to make people smile and he is passionate about taking care of his guard family. It's been a pleasure to work with him and I've learned things from him about how to be positive role model in the local community and the Air Force."
In retirement, he plans on relaxing, traveling and continuing to help with local service clubs, the Jacksonville Senior Activities and Wellness Center and volunteering at the Jacksonville Military Museum. He is also considering looking for a paying non-profit organization job in 2013.
Lt. Col. Mark Sicard succeeds McDaniel as the Maintenance Group Commander.
"I am so pleased that my successor, Lt. Col. Mark Sicard, is taking over," McDaniel said. "He's such a wonderful person and it's very nice that you can hand it off to someone that you have so much admiration and respect for. That's a good feeling."