In memory of

Major Dan Howard McKinney, age 71 of Helena

February 5, 1946 – May 14, 2017

Major Dan Howard McKinney passed away on May 14th, 2017. He did so with dignity and grace.

Dan was born February 5th, 1946. Dan was the only son of Howard and Lois McKinney (deceased). He is survived by his sister, Linda Cladis and her husband Nick, nephew, Dusty Cladis and his wife Pegi and Dusty and Pegi’s son, Shepard. Dan is also survived by two aunts and many cousins.

Dan opened his heart to his family and was always there with support and love. He was a protective big brother and for 70 years Linda and Dan truly enjoyed each other. Dan and Dusty forged a solid friendship of mutual admiration and respect. Dan was an amazing great uncle to Shepard and they both loved spending time together. Dan also loved and had profound respect for his Brother-in-Law Nick and Dusty’s wife, Pegi.   Cousin Ralph was a lifelong side kick. Dan leaves behind many loyal and beloved friends. Bob Lay was always there for coffee rides, root beer floats and support. Major McKinney maintained a special bond with his fellow Special Forces and SonTay Raid comrades.

Major McKinney followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the Army in 1965. Before retiring, he served four tours in Vietnam. He was a proud and distinguished Green Baret. Dan received the respect and admiration of all he served with and was known as a “Soldiers Soldier”. Dan was awarded the Silver Star (SonTay), four Bronze Stars, The Army Commendation for Valor, Vietnamese Silver Star, two Vietnamese Bronze Stars, and Cross of Gallantry Unit Citation with Palm, Parachutist Badge, Special Forces Tab and Combat Infantry Badge. Dan and his father were the only father son to both receive the Silver Star in Montana. After 22 years of honorable service he retired to Helena, cared for his mother and father and worked in a variety of enterprises. Dan graduated from Helena High School and received a Bachelor of Science from Troy University.

Dan told us not to be sad, he had a good run. Sorry Dan – we are sad, we will miss your quick wit, the twinkle you often had in your eyes and your unfailing support.

A graveside service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, July 7th at the Montana State Veterans Cemetery at Fort Harrison with Military Honors. A reception will follow and will be announced at the service. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to: Special Operations Warrior Foundation PO Box 89368 Tampa, Florida 33689 ( or a charity of your choice. Retz Funeral home is caring for arrangements. Please visit below for more information or to offer the family a condolence.


Read the thoughts and memories, then feel free to add your own.

  1. James C Johnson says:

    RIP Warrior, Vaya con Dios
    My deepest condolences to the family and fellow warriors.

  2. Bubba Hamm says:

    Bought My 1st boat from Dan! I believe it was his 1st boat too! What a good time We had! Thanks for the memories Dan, thanks for the good times and thanks for Your Service to Our Great Country! Good Bless You Dan McKinney and God Bless America! DOL

  3. Becky Dedie says:

    Dan we neighbor’s, you pic up from the airport when came back from Africa and took me to Bennigan’s to eat a real hamburger and have a real milkshake.Lots of good times! Enjoyed staying at the cabin in Montana when Mike Sutton and I were married.RIP MY FRIEND LOVE YA BECKY.

  4. Dick Ciccolella says:

    The epitome of the American Soldier; the very best of friends. Rest in Peace, Dan; and thank you.

  5. Thomas Juhl says:

    R.I.P. Dan you were a true Patriot and a good friend……

  6. Yvonne Olson Pate says:

    You were always respected, Dan, and your patriotism just made you greater. May you Rest In Peace.

  7. Allan Stricker says:

    A soldier of the utmost order – one that so few knew, when so many should have. Those of us who truly knew Dan were indeed privileged.

  8. Peter A. Olson says:

    Take care my friend. Thank you for your service.
    I still remember the camping trips when we were younger.
    You will be missed.

  9. Nancy Foley says:

    To the family of Dan H. Mckinney. My family sends their deepest sympathy to you. Our thoughts and prayers goes out to you. John 5:29

  10. Candace M Stenson & Tom Samec says:

    We will always remember the fun times you shared with us, your house had our wedding! R.I.P. you will be missed!

  11. Larry Lee says:

    Deb and I, along with Nancy and Mike our children. Celebrate who you were and how you lived a Warriors life. You did it your way! The Lee Family

  12. B..d. Mccann says:

    Going to miss you Dan. I have many fond memories of our time together.

  13. Duane, Janine, Kory, and Kelly Danielson says:

    The North Dakota Danielsons will cherish their memories of “The Cabin Guy”. Love to you all.

  14. We will miss cuz! We will carry on your memory with some of your quick wit. Love you and the memories!

  15. Oh for the laughter and love….will miss you cuz! Our cabin bar is so special because of you!

  16. Virginia McGinnis says:

    Virginia McGinnis: You will be missed my friend. I will always have fond memories of you and the fun times we spent together when you came to Culbertson. Rest in Peace.

  17. Virginia McGinnis says:

    You will be missed my friend. I will always have fond memories of you and the fun times we spent together when you came to Culbertson. Rest in Peace.

  18. Nancy Sundvold says:

    Dear Dan my friend. You were always fun 2 be around the many laughs we had . The sat. Spent at the Bob And Vicky’s place watching TV and the white lines. I will never for get you you were a great friend and a lot of fun 2 be around. Linda I know you will miss him the most, love 2 you .

  19. T. Kelly says:

    May the family find comfort in loving memories, and in knowing that God is “close to those that are broken at heart; and he saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) Our loving Creator, Jehovah God, has promised to soon “swallow up death forever…and wipe the tears from all faces” (Isaiah 25:8). With deepest sympathy.

  20. Col. (r) Ike Slaughter says:

    Dan and family, please accept our thoughts and prayers! Dan was a great American Patriot and Green Beret Warrior! We will miss you Dan.
    From all of us at the Montana Special Forces Association.

  21. Frank T. Polk says:

    Prayers, condolences good friend Dan. Served with Dan McKinney in 83 – last of 84 As Team Sargent with SFQC phase III. Love my time there, he was the OIC of Phase III. Had several good times together in field, as well as back at Ft. Bragg. Always hoped I could get up to Montana to visit him. RIP Brother SF Warrior Friend.

  22. Joseph M. Murray says:

    Diane and I were so sorry to hear of your passing. We enjoyed your friendship and camaraderie especially at the Son Tay Raid Assn Reunions over these last many years. Sorry we were never able to connect with you when we were in Helena years ago. You were busy out of town working on your place in the woods I believe. It was an honor to know and serve with you within the Special Forces Community and we will miss you. Condolences to your Family.

  23. Nancy Lee says:

    I will never forget my trip to Montana Dan. Thank you for making it special. Rest in peace

  24. Michael Lee says:

    I will forever cherish the memories you provided, from teaching me how to ride a 4-wheeler, to teaching me how to drive a bobcat. Thank you for showing a boy the great outdoors of Montana and being such a great family friend. You will be missed sir. Rest In Peace to a true American patriot, Major Dan McKinney

  25. BL Qualls says:

    To the family and friends,
    I am very sorry to hear of the loss of your loved one.
    When Jesus was on earth his friend Lazarus died. He was in the tomb for 4 days already when Jesus arrived. Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters were grieving and Jesus gave way to tears. Jesus compared death to sleep. He called to Lazarus and Lazarus came back to life! You can read this wonderful true account in the Bible at John chapter 11. Jusus demonstrated what he will do for mankind when his kingdom government is ruling over all the earth. Our loved ones will come back to life! At time there will be no more pain or death (Revelation 21:3,4.)
    If you would like a free Bible study to bring you comfort, please go to the bottom of the home page of

  26. Quentin Enderle says:

    Dan….my friend and a fellow Patriot….the best damn neighbor one could have at the “Cabin” Your father, my father were close friends…heck you and I had a great friendship…it is rare to have a friend like you and will 5gink of you everytime I go to the mountains…Your stories will be missed but passed on and retold around hunting camp.
    To his family and friends Dan will be truely missed but the memories I have of him helped shape me into who I am much respect and Mahalo,
    Quentin Enderle

  27. Kevin Blair says:

    RIP to my Jump School Company Commander. You settled this (once) young soldier’s nerves on his first jump by being first out the door – literally showing true leadership. No doubt many others thought as I did. Airborne, Sir.

  28. Paula Nurse says:

    I miss that special twinkle and indomitable spirit.

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