CRESTVIEW — A Crestview man's homage to one of the U.S. military’s heroes now comes in the form of a biography.
Johnathan McDaniel's new book, "The Dansville Darling," is an ode to his grandfather, John Jackson Wray of Crestview, and the 32 years he spent serving as a member of the U.S. Air Force and Army.
"I felt like there are many people in the military who are unsung heroes because they don't tell their own story,” McDaniel said. “It's a code of honor that prevents them from bragging about what they've done.
"There's many out there. He's one of many and I wanted to make sure his story was told."
Wray was born May 5, 1924, in Dansville, New York to Cora and Jack Wray. He retired as an Air Force chief master sergeant in 1975. He participated in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. His work as a fighter pilot in Korea inspired his grandson to write about him.
It took McDaniel about two years to compile his references for the book.
"The research was the hardest part. It's very hard to find old military documents," McDaniel said.
The work has been a rewarding journey for McDaniel, though. His family was "very supportive. My mother (Wray's daughter, Kathy Wray-McDaniel of Crestview) was so proud that she cried when she received the copy of the book," he said.
The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. Between his grandfather; his dad, Jerry McDaniel — who spent 20 years in the Air Force — and McDaniel's 10 years as an Air Force F-16 mechanic and Morale, Welfare and Recreation officer, the men have 60 years of military service.
Johnathan, a counselor at Eglin Air Force Base, and his wife, Ritsa, have two daughters ages 6 and 11.
The book was released Sept. 18 and is available on Amazon.com. The Dansville Darling Facebook page also has more historical photos and details about John Wray.