A Navy flight instructor who found love online started off the new year with a ride in the Rose Parade, courtesy of the matchmaking service that linked him with his future wife.
Lt. Cmdr. Rich Daniels and wife Kay, married in 2011, were one of seven couples on the eHarmony float that helped ring in the New Year in Pasadena, Calif. He wore his dress blues and waved while Natalie Cole belted out “Everlasting Love” and other songs from a float described in the official event program as “a beautiful floral extravaganza.”
Some readers questioned whether Daniels was in violation of Defense Department rules banning service members from wearing the uniform in ways that could benefit them professionally or financially outside the service, or would imply official endorsement of a political candidate, cause or business (or, presumably, parade float). However:
- Neither the Danielses nor the other couples were compensated for the appearance beyond travel expenses.
- Daniels told Navy Times via a Facebook message that he sought and received permission from his command to wear the uniform in the parade. A Navy spokesman confirmed Daniels’ statements.
- “Understanding restricting rules, we asked Lt. Cmdr. Daniels for permission to honor his military service,” Jaime Rupert, director of corporate communications at eHarmony, said in a statement to Navy Times. “He proceeded to receive proper permission to wear his uniform on the Rose Bowl Parade float only.”
- The aviator and his wife aren’t paid spokespeople for the website, Rupert said in the statement, and Daniels made no other appearances in uniform for the website, turning down interview requests.
Daniels is far from the only military-themed online dating success story. A 2009 USA Today story profiled a Marine who met his wife on eHarmony, for example.
But not every tale has quite so happy an ending — photos of military men are favorites of scammers seeking to separate the lonely from their money, and a service member’s dating history could, in some cases, prevent him from obtaining a security clearance.
Miss the parade? Want to catch a super-quick glimpse of a shipmate waving? Love Natalie Cole? See the video at this link.