But Daniels was in no paradise.
Daniels was in a lead armored vehicle escorting officers in other trucks who would talk with tribal elders to see what the Afghans needed in terms of food and school supplies for children.
Daniels, a member of the U.S. Army’s 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division’s Stryker Brigade combat team, was standing up through a hatch, manning a 240 machine gun in the rear of the vehicle.
The day was about Nov. 22, 2011, and the time was about 2 p.m.
A blue sky was interrupted only by a few clouds as the caravan of trucks traveled down an asphalt road.
“It was about 90 to 100 degrees outside. People were always outside farming, and there was little amounts of traffic flow,” Daniels said.
The area was rural and definitely not in the city.
“When we drove by, kids and some adults gave us a thumbs-up. Others would throw rocks and spit at us, especially the younger kids. The adults wouldn’t do it,” he said.
A sense of security came from knowing that a route clearance team had checked the road that morning and had cleared it for that afternoon’s caravan.
Daniels saw the usual – nothing out of the ordinary. The caravan was about 20 minutes away from its destination.
“Normally, where an improvised explosive device or IED would be planted, it would be pretty empty. People were out in the fields, and kids were out,” he said.
“As we progressed doing the employment, we learned the Taliban had really gotten good at homemade explosives.”
A 40-pound bomb – only missing one or two essential things – exploded under the front right of Daniels’ vehicle.
“They placed that bomb in less than two minutes and had it ready to go,” Daniels said. “It’s scary as crap.”
The bomb knocked Daniels, the driver and gunner unconscious and the vehicle went off into a ditch on the side of the road.
“We had concussions from the blast.”
Daniels guessed he was out for 30 seconds to a minute before regaining consciousness and getting his bearings.
“When I woke up the trucks behind us had closed in.”
A lot of dust had been kicked up and the smell of sulfur was in the air.
“The gunner came to after I did. The driver remained unconscious, Daniels said.
Daniels said the evacuation door was kicked open and the driver was pulled to rear of the vehicle.
“The other trucks had set up a cordon.”
Daniels, the gunner and driver were taken to a hospital at Kandahar Airfield, where they were treated for traumatic brain injury. The driver also injuries from shrapnel in his leg.
“I have a small stutter. I kind of jumble up words. It’s mostly when I get excited,” he said.
All three of the soldiers were able to return to service after two or three weeks.
Now, Daniels is stationed at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
And he has accrued enough leave time to visit home on Sunday, June 3.
There’s a party planned by his sister and mother. The entire city of George West is invited to come to the park from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and celebrate its native son’s heroism.
A Different Breed, a band whose members are good friends of Daniels, will play.
Mayor Sylvia Steele plans to present a proclamation to Daniels, as well.
“I think it’s crazy. I know a lot of people. I’ve been away so long, I kind of forgot what a small community is like,” Daniels said.
“I just want everyone to know how excited I am. Friends, family – you don’t realize how much you want something till you can’t have it.”
More than likely, for Daniels, a variety of cheeseburgers will be available, too.