Daniel E. Albritton
Lt Col
U. S. Navy
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 08/02/1943 - 05/23/1946
Commander, Higgins Boat, USS Anne Arundel (P 76)

Daniel was born "just east of Farmerville in Union Parish in an old log house that was built somewhere around 1850". He recalls the house as "weather-beaten and gray and really rundown." A fireplace in the living room and a wood stove in the kitchen provided heat. His father, Joe Ollie Albritton, whose nickname was "Jolly", was a World War I veteran and a dairy farmer. His mother was Mary Elise Lawson Albritton. Mary Elise completed Louisiana Normal College in 1913 and taught elementary school until she married in 1920. After her three children were born she returned to teaching in 1926, serving as principal of a three-room schoolhouse in Salem Community northeast of Farmerville. As a youngster, Daniel helped on the family farm, raising cotton, corn, peas, soybeans, and sugarcane. He remembers plowing with mules by age ten. He also cut wood for fireplace and stove, helped can vegetables in summer, and picked cotton in early fall. When he was a young boy the family moved to Farmerville. He played football and baseball at Farmerville High School, where he graduated in 1939 at age 16. He entered Copiah-Lincoln Junior College in Wesson, Mississippi, where he played football, then transferred to Mississippi Southern College in Hattiesburg. Again he played football until the school discontinued athletics after America entered World War II. He returned home in the summer of 1942 and worked for a federal agency, Agricultural Adjustment Act & Administration, measuring cotton acreage. He then entered Louisiana Tech where he played football and graduated in 1943. Daniel had signed up for naval officer training program while at Tech. He went on active duty on August 2, 1943. After midshipmen school at Columbia University he was commissioned and sent to Little Creek, Virginia for small boat training on LCVPs (Landing Craft Vehicle, Personnel). He also trained on LCVPs in Fort Pierce, Florida. On March 24, 1944 he was assigned to the USS Anne Arundel (AP-76) in Bayonne, New Jersey. He served in the boat group division of the ship, which carried 20 LCVPs and two LCMs (Landing Craft, Mechanized). Daniel was a line officer assigned to three or four boats and crews. From New Jersey, the ship sailed to Newport, Wales, then to the Firth of Clyde in Scotland, "waiting" and making practice runs for three months. "We went down three times to southern England to run practice runs. We'd pick up troops and take them some place and unload them and then come back to town and pick up troops and take them someplace and unload them and go back up," he recalls. He was at Portland, England when the Anne Arundel sailed as part of the armada of the invasion at Normandy. Getting troops off the ship and into the boats on high seas was difficult, he recalls. "Some of those poor guys had forty or fifty pounds on their shoulders to climb down that thing and the waves were bouncing and the ship was going up and down, ten, fifteen feet. It was very windy and rough," he says of June 6, 1943. His LCVP was bound for the section of Normandy code-named Omaha Red, which was "one of the most dangerous of all of them," he recalls. "We circled around and circled around and of course they were bouncing around and those soldiers were seasick," he said. He finally landed to the right of Omaha Red, but not quite "as far as Utah (beach)." About 4 p.m. the Anne Arundel returned to England, then to the Firth of Clyde. In July, it transported ten Sherman tanks to Naples, Italy. Daniel made his second invasion when allied forces landed in southern France. "And that was a picnic. The Mediterranean was calm and had a sandbox beach just ideal for landing. No enemy at all," he remembers. The ship later picked up French army units in Oran, North Africa, transporting them to near Marseille. On November 8, 1944 the Anne Arundel sailed to New York for repairs and routine maintenance as well as for re-painting in a lighter shade for duty in the Pacific. Daniel, with two weeks of leave, spent Thanksgiving at home before returning to the ship which began taking cargo and personnel to islands such as Eniwetok, Ulithi, and Guam. It transported ammunition, food, and other supplies to Okinawa, where he witnessed kamikaze attacks. The ship took aboard "maybe a hundred or so" marines to transport to medical care. The Anne Arundel participated in the liberation of the Philippines, and transported elements of the Chinese army and the 1st Marine Division to Japan. After the war Daniel was assigned to the decommissioning detail of the ship in New York in March of 1946. The captain gave him the "final action" for the vessel in delivering the ship's seal to the Brooklyn Navy Yard offices. Daniel was a lieutenant (j.g.) when he was discharged on May 23, 1946 and went on reserve status. He attempted a professional baseball career, but soon returned to Farmersville. He then was accepted as a corrective physical rehabilitation specialist with the Veterans Administration in Gulfport, Mississippi in 1947. On September 19, 1948 he married Julia Brown, a nurse, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. (They would have three daughters. Julia passed away in 1966. In 1968 he married Gwindell Bilbray, who had two daughters from a previous marriage. Daniel has nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.) The couple transferred to Palo Alto, California where Daniel completed physical therapy school on the GI Bill. They returned to Gulfport, but soon Daniel was transferred to the VA hospital in Shreveport. Meanwhile, he had remained in navy reserves, then transferred in 1958 to the air force reserves. He retired in 1973 as a lieutenant colonel. Daniel worked at North Louisiana Sanitarium and Schumpert Sanitarium before retiring in 1988. Daniel has remained active in his Presbyterian church and was elected elder emeritus. He was also elected in 1993 to the Athletic Hall of Fame at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.