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Michael J. Daly
Captain Michael J. Daly
Born (1924-09-15)September 15, 1924
Died July 25, 2008(2008-07-25) (aged 83)
Place of birth New York City, New York
Place of death Fairfield, Connecticut
Place of burial Oak Lawn Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1942–1946
Rank Captain
Unit 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division

World War II

Awards Medal of Honor
Silver Star (3)
Bronze Star with "V"
Purple Heart (2)

Michael Joseph Daly (September 15, 1924 – July 25, 2008) was a United States Army officer who received the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in World War II. He received the medal for single-handedly eliminating 15 German soldiers, an entire German patrol and destroying three machine-gun nests.

He resigned from the United States Military Academy after one year to fight in the war and was sent to Europe, participating in the D-Day landings at Omaha Beach. After the D-Day invasion he was sent to fight in Germany where he was wounded, received a battlefield commission to second lieutenant and participated in the action that would get him the Medal of Honor.

After being presented the Medal of Honor in a ceremony at the White House by President Harry S. Truman he went back to his home town, made a family and became a businessman. He died of cancer at his home in 2008, at the age of 83.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Daly was born September 15, 1924 in New York City,[1] but resided his entire life in Fairfield, Connecticut, except for one year he and his wife lived in County Wicklow, Ireland.[2] His father, Colonel Paul Daly, was a World War I and World War II veteran who was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross and was also nominated for the Medal of Honor twice, but did not receive it.[3] His great-grandfather Thomas F. Gilroy was an Irish immigrant who was the mayor of New York City in the 1890s.[4] Michael Daly had three brothers, Gilroy, Daniel and Dermot and three sisters, Madeleine Potter, Bevin Patterson and Alison Gerard.[2]

Military service[edit | edit source]

After graduating from Georgetown Preparatory School in 1941, he joined the Army from Fairfield's Southport neighborhood[1] in 1942 and attended the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, where he was a classmate of George Patton III.[5] While he was at the academy he was, by his own admission, a mediocre student. After having severe disciplinary problems and continuously being placed on special confinement and walking off punishment tours he resigned his appointment after only one year to fight in World War II.[6] Sent to Europe as an eighteen-year-old infantry private, he trained in England and took part in the D-Day landings at Omaha Beach with the 1st Infantry Division.[4] His father also volunteered to serve in the war and was sent first to Guadalcanal, then as a regimental commander to France.[7]

A black and white image of troops leaving an amphibious troop transport. They are walking through the water to a beach.

Into the Jaws of Death: Troops from the First Division landing on Omaha Beach - photograph by Robert F. Sargent

After participating in the drive through France, he was wounded in Aachen, Germany, and sent to England to recover. He rejoined the front lines as a part of the 3rd Infantry Division and was given a battlefield commission to second lieutenant.[4] By April 18, 1945, he was a first lieutenant in command of Company A, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, 7th Army. On that day, he led his company in their advance through Nuremberg, Germany, and single-handedly engaged German forces several times.[1] As his unit passed a city square, a German machine gun opened fire, causing several casualties. Daly rushed the position and killed the three gunners. Advancing ahead of his men, he came across a German patrol preparing to use rocket launchers to ambush American tanks. He again attacked alone and, despite being outnumbered and outgunned, killed all six patrol members. When a machine gun opened fire at close range, he picked up a dead man's rifle and killed the two-man German crew. The next day, on April 19, he was shot through the head; a bullet entered at his ear and exited from the opposite cheek. He was sent to England and eventually the United States to recuperate.[4] At about the same time, his father, who had been wounded in France, was also being evacuated to the United States.[7]

He was subsequently promoted to captain and, on August 23, 1945, awarded the Medal of Honor.[2] Although still recovering from his wounds, for which he would continue to receive treatment until mid-1946,[4] he attended a ceremony at the White House where President Harry S. Truman formally presented him with the medal.[2] In addition to the Medal of Honor, Daly received three Silver Stars, two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star with valor device.[8] Commenting on his Medal of Honor citation in a speech at Fairfield High School sometime later, Daly said, "We all lose our courage at times. It is something we pray for in the morning, that God will give us the strength and courage to do what is right."[6]

Later life[edit | edit source]

After the war, he returned to Fairfield and began a business career. Daly worked very briefly as a salesman for an oil company before starting his own manufacturer's representative business, Michael Daly & Associates, in the Southport neighborhood.[2] He was also involved in the operations of St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport, serving on the hospital's board of directors for more than thirty years, as well as being a trustee and helping to obtain financial support for the hospital.[9] A Democrat, he also supported the political careers of his brother, Judge T. F. Gilroy Daly, and friend, city politician John J. Sullivan, but dismissed suggestions to run for office himself.[2] Daly married Margaret Noble Wallace (great-granddaughter of Lew Wallace) in the 1950s and together they had two children, Deirdre and Michael.[8] His brother, T. F. Gilroy Daly, who died in 1996, was a federal judge in Connecticut who had gained prominence as a lawyer for helping win the exoneration of Peter Reilly, who had been convicted of killing his mother in a highly publicized case of the 1970s.[6] Daly died of pancreatic cancer at his Fairfield home on July 25, 2008. His funeral was held on July 29, 2008 at St. Pius X Church in Fairfield and he was buried at Oak Lawn Cemetery with full military honors.[10] The 10th Mountain Division of Fort Drum and the United States Military Academy of West Point performed the ceremony.[8] The ceremony included a three round volley and West Point's bugle sounding "Taps" as preludes to a military helicopter flying over the cemetery.[9]

Honors and awards[edit | edit source]

Due to the National Personnel Records Center fire of 1973,[11] Michael J. Daly's exact awards and honors as recorded by the military are unknown; his was one of the approximately 16-18 million people whose records were destroyed in the blaze.[12] As a consequence, what follows below is an incomplete list of the awards either confirmed or thought to have been awarded to Daly for his service.

A light blue ribbon with five white five pointed stars
Gold star
Gold star
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Medal of Honor Silver Star
with two gold award stars
Bronze Star Medal
with Valor device
Purple Heart Medal[n 1]

Medal of Honor citation[edit | edit source]

Captain Daly's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

Early in the morning of 18 April 1945, he led his company through the shell-battered, sniper-infested wreckage of Nuremberg, Germany. When blistering machinegun fire caught his unit in an exposed position, he ordered his men to take cover, dashed forward alone, and, as bullets whined about him, shot the 3-man guncrew with his carbine. Continuing the advance at the head of his company, he located an enemy patrol armed with rocket launchers which threatened friendly armor. He again went forward alone, secured a vantage point and opened fire on the Germans. Immediately he became the target for concentrated machine pistol and rocket fire, which blasted the rubble about him. Calmly, he continued to shoot at the patrol until he had killed all 6 enemy infantrymen. Continuing boldly far in front of his company, he entered a park, where as his men advanced, a German machinegun opened up on them without warning. With his carbine, he killed the gunner; and then, from a completely exposed position, he directed machinegun fire on the remainder of the crew until all were dead. In a final duel, he wiped out a third machinegun emplacement with rifle fire at a range of 10 yards. By fearlessly engaging in 4 single-handed fire fights with a desperate, powerfully armed enemy, Lt. Daly, voluntarily taking all major risks himself and protecting his men at every opportunity, killed 15 Germans, silenced 3 enemy machineguns and wiped out an entire enemy patrol. His heroism during the lone bitter struggle with fanatical enemy forces was an inspiration to the valiant Americans who took Nuremberg.[1]

St. Vincent's Medical Center emergency wing[edit | edit source]

St. Vincent's Medical Center, Bridgeport, Connecticut plans to name its new emergency wing in his honor.[9]

Captain Michael J. Daly Highway[edit | edit source]

Connecticut State Representative Carl Dickman proposed legislation to name a section of Interstate Route 95 from Bridgeport to Westport north bound and south bound for Captain Daly. When proposing this bill Representative Dickman said:

This naming of the highway would honor a well-respected Fairfield resident for his extraordinary service to the people of the United States. I encourage the legislature to adopt this proposal.

The legislation, House Bill No. 5711 reads as follows:


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

That the segment of Interstate Route 95 from Bridgeport to Westport north bound and south bound be renamed the "Captain Michael J. Daly Highway".[13]

Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame[edit | edit source]

In 2007, Daly along with nine other Connecticut veterans were inducted into the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame and at the time he was one of only two living inductees who had received the Medal of Honor.

Mr. Daly is a U.S. Army veteran of World War II who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for extreme heroism while leading his infantry company through the shell-battered, sniper-infested wreckage of Nuremberg, Germany, in April 1945. Following his distinctive military service, he became very involved in veterans’ and community affairs, serving on the Board of Directors of St. Vincent’s Hospital and founding the hospital’s Daly Foundation. He has also providing decades of volunteer service to handicapped children, the Town of Fairfield and served as a member of the Connecticut Judicial Review Council.[14]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. "Based on the image displayed in the infobox it appears that Daly had other medals as well as those shown and listed here. Although not mentioned specifically in any reference it is probable that he also received the World War II Victory Medal in addition to the medals listed and displayed here.”

References[edit | edit source]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Medal of Honor recipients - World War II (A–F)". Medal of Honor citations. United States Army Center of Military History. June 8, 2009. http://www.history.army.mil/html/moh/wwII-a-f.html. Retrieved July 6, 2009. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 "M.J. Daly dies, Medal of Honor recipient". Connecticut Post. July 25, 2008. 
  3. Ochs, Stephen J (2012). A Cause Greater than Self: The Journey of Captain Michael J. Daly, World War II Medal of Honor Recipient. United States: Texas A&M University Press. p. 6. ISBN 9781603447836. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 "Michael J. Daly". The Daily Nightly. MSNBC. June 18, 2007. http://dailynightly.msnbc.com/2007/06/medal_of_honor__10.html. Retrieved July 29, 2008. 
  5. Sobel, Brian M. (1997). The Fighting Pattons. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 27. ISBN 0-275-95714-4. http://books.google.com/books?id=p4ootbf49WsC. Retrieved July 7, 2009. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Godstein, Richard, "Michael Daly, 83, Dies; Won Medal of Honor", New York Times, July 29, 2008, Pg. B6.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Owens, Ron (2004). Medal of Honor: Historical Facts & Figures. Kentucky: Turner Publishing Company. p. 121. ISBN 1-56311-995-1. http://books.google.com/books?id=s65pmBAUmD4C. Retrieved July 7, 2009. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Michael J. Daly". Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients. Find a Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/memorial/28540357. Retrieved June 5, 2009. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 "Medal of Honor recipient dies at Fairfield home". Connecticut Post. July 26, 2008. http://www.ctpost.com/default/article/Medal-of-Honor-recipient-dies-at-Fairfield-home-223518.php. Retrieved February 1, 2010. 
  10. "Michael J. Daly; Credited His Valor In WWII to Luck". Associated Press. August 2, 2008. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/01/AR2008080103290.html. Retrieved February 1, 2010. 
  11. Stender, Walter W.; Evans Walker (October 1974). "The National Personnel Records Center Fire: A Study in Disaster". Society of American Archivists. http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/nprc-fire.pdf. Retrieved January 31, 2009. 
  12. "The 1973 Fire at the National Personnel Records Center (St. Louis, MO)". Archives.gov. College Park, Maryland: National Personnel Records Center, National Archives and Records Administration. 2007-06-19. http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/fire-1973.html. Retrieved January 31, 2009. 
  13. "Rep. Dickman Proposes Naming Highway for Medal of Honor recipient, Michael Daly". Press release 132b. State of Connecticut. February 6, 2003. http://www.housegop.state.ct.us/Old/Dickman/pressrel/Dickman/2003/press132b.htm. Retrieved July 8, 2009. 
  14. "Governor Rell Announces New Inductees Into Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame". Michael J. Daly of Fairfield – Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. State of Connecticut. November 26, 2007. http://www.ct.gov/governorrell/cwp/view.asp?a=2791&q=399652. Retrieved July 8, 2009. 

Further reading[edit | edit source]

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