Among the United States Marine Corps, Sergeant Daniel Daly is something of a legend. Now that's saying something in and of itself, considering some of the men and women who have served the Corps during the years. He was no Swarchenegger or Rambo look alike. But this 5'6", 135lb soldier was fearless, tough, and well respected among officers and enlisted men.
The man epitomized what it means to be a soldier.
In January of 1899 the United States and Spain went to war over Cuba. Well Dan Daly heard about all the action that was to be had in serving his country he decided to enlist in the Marine Corps and try to get in on the fighting. Unfortunately by the time his drill instructors were done whipping him into shape old-school-style at boot camp on Parris Island, the war was already over.
When Private Daly got out of Basic he was assigned to the Asiatic Fleet, which was deployed to the Far East. Well around this time things were beginning to heat up in China, as the Qing Dynasty was in the early stages of the Boxer Rebellion. This was an uprising by the Chinese peasantry against foreign influence in their country. Since these Boxers were getting a little bit more violent every day, the U.S. decided to send in some Marines to make sure their diplomatic legation was safe. Dan Daly's Marines were deployed.
When the Marines arrived they found a small contingent of German soldiers camped outside the American embassy in Beijing. The Corpsmen didn't like this one bit and assaulted the German positions, pushing them out of there. Since the defensive positions surrounding the legation were badly damaged, the rest of the Marines headed off to gather reinforcements and supplies to rebuild the fortifications around the embassy. Private Daly volunteered to stay back and hold the fort while they were gone.
That night, shit hit the fan. Dan was just hanging out, smoking a cigarette, when all of a sudden a huge force of Chinese Boxers started bull-rushing the American Embassy with torches, rifles, and various other weaponry raised above their heads, screaming like madmen. They had come to destroy the consulate, and Daly was the only man between this rampaging horde and the diplomatic legation. In the face of this seemingly unending onslaught, Dan Daly knew it was time to be a Marine. He jammed an ammunition belt into his squad machine gun, took a deep breath, and squeezed the trigger.
The next morning, the rest of Private Daly's squad arrived at the barricade Daly had been charged with defending. Through the smoke and the carnage, they saw Dan Daly sitting on the fortifications puffing a smoke, surrounded by the bodies of 200 slain Boxers. For his actions in single-handedly defending the legation in the face of impossible odds, Private Daly received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
But his job wasn't finished yet. In 1914 Daly was transferred to Haiti during the American occupation of that country. It was here that he would distinguish himself in combat once again.
Daly, who was now a Gunnery Sergeant at this point, was part of a platoon that had been sent out on a reconnaissance patrol deep into the Haitian countryside. One day, as they were fording a small river, the Marines found themselves in the middle of a deadly ambush. 400 Haitian Cacos rebels poured fire into the 35-man platoon from three points on the river, tearing into the U.S. troops. The Marines fought hard and managed to push their way across the river, where they set up defensive positions and tried to fight off their attackers. Unfortunately, the platoon's heavy machine gun had fallen in the initial pandemonium and was now resting peacefully at the bottom of the river. Things looked pretty bleak for the heavily-outnumbered Marines.
Then Sergeant Daly stepped up. He made his way out from the American positions in the middle of the night, jumped into the river, pulled the machine gun up, strapped it to his back and snuck back to join his platoon. The following morning, the now-heavily-armed Marines split into three fire teams and swept through the jungle completely annihalating the rebel units. Sergeant Daly earned his SECOND Congressional Medal of Honor.
After Haiti, Daly served fleet duty aboard the USS Newark, Panther, Cleveland, Marietta, Mississippi, Ohio, and Machias, saw combat in Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Panama, and served on Marine bases in eight different U.S. cities. The man got around, because when you're as tough as Dan Daly was you're usually in pretty high demand.
In 1917 the United States once again needed the help of Sergeant Daly. Around this time France and Germany were in the middle of the biggest and deadliest war the planet had ever seen, and the U.S. decided to send in the Marines to help kick some ass in "The Great War", as it was now being called. Well Daly surely did not want to miss out on an opportunity to fight in a World War, so he shipped out at age 44 for some more adventures. He fought in several campaigns with the American Expeditionary Force in France, and won combat medals three more times - once when he crawled out under heavy enemy fire and rescued a half-dozen wounded Marines who were pinned down, once when he single-handedly captured 13 German soldiers, and once when he took out a heavily-fortified German machine gun nest all by himself using nothing more than a handful of grenades and a Colt .45 Automatic. He was also wounded three times, but yeah right like that could slow him down.
Daly's greatest moment in World War I came during the intense fighting at the Battle of Belleau Wood. Daly's Marines were in the middle of heavy fighting. They were outnumbered two-to-one, outgunned, and facing down the barrels of numerous German machine gun nests. They had been pinned down for hours by a non-stop hail of artillery and gunfire, and things were looking bleak as hell for the troops. Well all of a sudden, just as things were looking hopeless, a lone figure jumped up onto the earthworks the American Marines had been using for cover. Sergeant Dan Daly looked down the line, clutched his rifle and shouted, "Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?" before charging out to meet the enemy. The men of the United States Marine Corps saw this act of bravery and decided, no, they did not want to live forever. They went "over the top" and charged the German positions.
On 26 June 1917 the U.S. High Command in France received the following telegram:
For his actions in the Belleau Woods, Sergeant Daly received the Navy Cross and the French Croix de Guerre.
Daly would serve in the occupation army, then work in Fleet Reserve until he finally retired from the Corps. He worked as a banker for 17 years after his service and died in 1937 at age 65. He is one of only two Marines to ever receive two Congressional Medals of Honor, and to this day remains one of the most legendary figures in American military history. A true hero.
Even after his death the spirit of Dan Daly lived on in the American destroyer DD-519 -- the USS Daly. The Daly fought bravely in the Pacific Fleet, earning eight Battle Stars during 27 months of service in World War II. Even death couldn't stop the spirit of Sergeant Major Dan Daly from kicking asses and taking names.
The USS Daly
Quote of the Day
"God has a hard-on for Marines, because they kill everything they see." Movie Full Metal Jacket