Navy Yard victim Arthur Daniels helped save boss’s life

September 25, 2013

Arthur Daniels was coming back from a cigarette break with his boss when he heard the shots. The two men ran toward the elevator of their building in the Navy Yard. But when Daniels realized he was hit, he stopped and pushed his boss out of the line of fire.

Daniels “saved his life,” said Vice Adm. William Hilarides, the commander of Naval Sea Systems Command, at the funeral of the handyman he knew as Art.

Priscilla Halmon-Daniels listened as one speaker after another paid tribute to her husband of 30 years.

Just four years ago, she lost her 14-year-old son to a gunman on the streets of Washington. On Wednesday, family and friends gathered at Community of Hope AME Church in Temple Hills to grapple with another unbearable tragedy.

“We, his Navy family, mourn him as much as you do,” Hilarides told her.


Priscilla and Arthur Daniels. Arthur was killed in the rampage at the Navy Yard. (Family Phoro)

Daniels, 51, was the only District resident killed in the attack, and his funeral drew Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and D.C. Council member Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7). All three condemned the gun violence that took two members of the Daniels family, with Gray in particular making an impassioned call for background checks and assault weapon restrictions.

“It is time for us, in Arthur Lee Daniels’s name, ladies and gentlemen, to say enough is enough,” he said.

Daniels’s daughter, Iadora Halmon-Daniels, 25, spoke haltingly through tears of the father who visited her at work just the day before his death to see how she was doing and give her $20 to buy herself a nice meal.

“My daddy was a loving man. He cared for everyone. He stayed with us,” she said. “I loved my dad. That’s my heart.”

Friends, family members, preachers and public officials all spoke of Daniels as a hard worker who was driven to provide for his wife, his five children and his nine grandchildren. Pastor Tony Lee quoted Proverbs: “Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.”

Daniels was so skilled that an admiral came to his funeral to honor his work, Lee said. But “while he knew an admiral here, now he’s with the commander of the heavenly host.”

Mourners also recalled Daniels as a car aficionado, a Redskins devotee, and a funk and go-go fan who loved to go out dancing with his wife.

All through the service, Priscilla Halmon-Daniels cried for the husband she loved so much that she gave all four of her sons his name. At times, she had to be held up by her family as the congregation prayed for God to give her strength.

Finally, it was her turn to speak. She thanked the relatives, friends and dignitaries who were gathered, saying she loved them all. And after grieving for both a husband and a son, she also prayed that she would not be back at Hope AME for another funeral.

“I can’t take it,” she said.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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