Memorial Spaceflights

Daniel Neil Elsberry

"Fair Winds & Following Seas"
1966 - 1996

You can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or
You can rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.

Daniel grew up with an older sister and brother in Lakeland, Florida. His friendly manner put others at ease, and he made friends readily. His second grade teacher, Anna Marie Di Cesare, said of Daniel after his memorial service at Lakeland's First United Methodist Church: "You couldn't know Daniel and not love him." A neighbor boy whose bicycle Daniel had tuned expressed his feelings with a crayon drawing. On it he inscribed: "I will miss you. Love, Joey."

Daniel went to Lakeland schools, graduating from Kathleen High in 1985. He also attended schools in Upper Heyford (RAF) and High Wickham, England, between 1981 and 1983 while living with his sister on duty with the U.S. Air Force. He became so interested in sailplane flying that he volunteered to help with the launching cables. He was rewarded each week with a short flight over the beautiful English countryside.

Upon returning from England, Daniel took part in Boy Scout activities until his eighteenth birthday, when he became an assistant scoutmaster in Lakeland. He served on staff at Shands' Boy Scout Camp, working with mentally handicapped older scouts.

Daniel enlisted in the Navy. After boot camp and aviation field training he joined the crew of CV-41 (the aircraft carrier Midway) for a three-year tour, serving in the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq War. He served on the carrier Kitty Hawk from 1989 to 1991 until he was assigned to his last duty post in Norfolk, Virginia.

In 1992 he won "Sailor of the Quarter" recognition in his new command, and that year he achieved his goal of flying as part of an air crew. With the end of the Cold War came personnel reductions in anti-submarine warfare. Daniel enthusiastically concentrated his efforts in computers. He demonstrated his natural teaching ability helping others learn computer skills. Said one of his students: "I learned more than I could have hoped!" He continued training Navy personnel as a civilian Computer Specialist with Information Spectrum Inc. under Captain Drex Bradshaw (Ret.) in Norfolk, Virginia, until his death.

Family and friends universally described Daniel as one who marched to his own drummer, except when it came to his military obligations. The Navy awarded Daniel the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the National Defense Medal, as well as numerous other commendations and citations.

Although he never married, Daniel joined his parents and his niece, Robin, whenever leave and travel time permitted him, visiting Disney World, other theme parks, and Florida Gator football games. He became a Gator fan after completing a correspondence course with the University of Florida.

Daniel's hobbies were many. His love of pets was lifelong. He once abandoned pursuit of a Boy Scout rabbit badge after he learned that he would have to prepare one to eat. He kept and nurtured gerbils, cats, and a prairie dog named "Taz." He enjoyed kite flying and surfing from his time-share at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. He was very interested in rocketry, space travel, computers, and mind games like "Star Trek." He admired the creative and story telling genius of Gene Roddenberry.

His early musical interest included playing violin in the fifth through seventh grades. For a hyperactive child, that was quite an accomplishment. Daniel's CD collection included many Walt Disney classics, as well as Eric Clapton. He was fascinated by the effort to communicate with life in outer space. Daniel purchased a recording, "Murmurs of Earth," that included commentary by Carl Sagan.

Though his athletic and motor skills were late developing, Daniel treasured his seasons in little league baseball and the orange cap from his "O.J.'s" team uniform. Strong swimming skills came naturally as he avoided drowning by his older siblings who considered him a pest intruding on their use and enjoyment of the backyard family pool.

As a child with his family, Daniel was a preparatory member of the Cleveland Heights United Methodist Church. He served as acolyte, sang with children's choir, and participated in many summer vacation Bible schools. He loved and trusted others, and frequently provided for them, even to his own disadvantage, without complaint.

His last Navy command presented Daniel with a beautiful shadowbox. His parents are grateful that his command specially honored him for faithful service, and wished him "Fair Winds & Following Seas." His country could not give him a more fitting honor and farewell.

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