Two-Time Medal of Honor Recipient Daniel ~'Dan~' Daly

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

To win a Medal of Honor takes guts, composure, and selfless bravery. To win a second one takes something else entirely. In this lesson we'll explore the military career of SgtMjr Dan Daly, and see just what it takes.

The Congressional Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor is the absolute highest award that can be bestowed upon military personnel in the United States. To earn one, a service member must distinguish him or herself through incredible bravery and selflessness. To earn two of them, well, that's a whole separate level.

In American history, there have only been 19 soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor twice. Of those, only seven were Marines. Of those seven, only two received two medals for fighting in two different conflicts. Today we'll talk about one of those men, Sergeant Major Daniel 'Dan' Joseph Daly.

SgtMaj Dan Daly
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Sergeant Major Daly's Legacy

Born in New York in 1873, Daniel Daly was an amateur boxer who enlisted in the Marines hoping to fight in the Spanish-American War. However, the war ended before he finished training, and he never saw action.

His chance to fight would come soon enough, and by the time of his retirement in 1929, Daly was lauded by Major General Smedley Butler (the other double Medal of Honor recipient among Marines) as 'the fightin'est Marine I ever knew'. He was also hailed by Marine Commander Major General John Lejeune as 'the outstanding Marine of all time', and, as mentioned, had been awarded two separate Medals of Honor. He died in 1937, leaving a legacy of service that sets the bar for Marines to this day.

Medal of Honor #1

Daly's first Medal of Honor came from his service during the Boxer Rebellion, an armed rebellion of Chinese insurgents against their pro-Western, pro-industrialization government. The Marines were sent to secure American interests, Daly among them.

In 1900, Daly's squad landed near Beijing and was engaged by enemy combatants. According to witnesses, Daly, a private at the time, was among those on top of the Tartar Wall, the wall surrounding Beijing (called Peking at the time) that was under heavy siege. By the end of the battle, a mixed force of American, Chinese, European, and Japanese soldiers managed to break the siege and occupy the city.

But during this battle, Pvt. Daly found himself alone on part of the Tartar Wall as his captain left to find them reinforcements. Daly managed to single-handedly defend the position, evading enemy snipers and by many accounts fighting off as many as 200 enemy combatants.

The formal citation for the Medal of Honor simply states that Daly is recognized for 'meritorious conduct', which may be something of an understatement. In 1901, he was formally awarded the Medal of Honor by then president, William McKinley.

The Siege of Peking
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Medal of Honor #2

After the Boxer Rebellion, Daly went on to serve as a Gunnery Sergeant in the years just before America joined WWI. One of his missions was to help the Marines put down a rebellion in Haiti.

The Marines were occupying Haiti because they believed Germany would attempt to seize the island to gain a naval base in the Caribbean. However, their occupation sparked armed uprisings by the locals. During this occupation, Sgt. Daly was among a patrol to leave the fort on a 6-day reconnaissance mission in October of 1915.

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