July 15, 1900 ~ Dan Daly: The Volunteer Spirit
There are countless acts of bravery, selfless courage, and distinguished conduct that our men and women of the armed forces have demonstrated throughout the history of the United States Military.
More than 3500 medals of Honor have been awarded since its inception.
But only 19 men have have earned the military’s highest award for valor twice.
The most notable two-time Medal of Honor recipient Dan Daly.
Daly received his two Medals of Honor for actions in China and Haiti.
He later became one of the most famous servicemen of World War I for rescuing wounded troops and single-handedly charging an enemy machine gun during the Battle of Belleau Wood.
Marine Pvt. Dan Daly received his first Medal of Honor for volunteering to defend a position alone while undergoing constant fire from the enemy on the night of July 15.
The year was 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion in China.
The Boxers were an anti-imperialist, anti-foreign, and anti-Christian group who wanted to rid China of foreign influence.
At one point during the uprising, the boxers surrounded the foreign legations in Peking (now Beijing) and laid siege to foreign diplomats, citizens and soldiers of 12 nations, including the United States.
PVT Dan Daly and his Captain found themselves the lone defenders of the Tartar Wall.
With the intensity of the Boxer attacks, it became obvious they needed reinforcements.
Daly, armed with a bolt-action rifle and bayonet, volunteered to hold the position while the captain went to find help.
As is common in military operations, things did not go according to plan.
Reinforcements were delayed, and the captain did not return until the next day.
When they finally arrived, they found Dan Daly still patrolling the Tartar Wall.
He had fought all night long, single-handedly repelling numerous attacks.
He said he would hold the position, and he did.
Marine Corps tradition says that they counted the bodies of 200 Boxers in front of Daly’s.
For his heroic defense, he received his first Medal of Honor.
Fifteen years later, now Gunnery SGT Dan Daly was fighting with US forces supporting the government in Haiti against insurgents.
On the night of October 24, 1915, in the Battle of Fort Dipitie, he was part of a group of 35 Marines who were ambushed by a force of approximately 400 Haitian insurgents.
He led one of the three groups of men during the fight to reach a nearby fort.
For his valor and selfless courage, Dan Daly received his second Medal of Honor for his conspicuous actions.
Then, with United States entry to World War I, Dan Daly was sent to France.
At one point during the Battle of Belleau Wood in June 1918, Daly, now a First Sergeant, was pinned down with his men and outnumbered by two-to-one.
His unit had been battling the Germans for hours, and many were beginning to lose hope.
Recognizing that morale was sinking, Daly rose up among his men and yelled out, “For Christ’s sake, men, come on! Do you want to live forever?”
And then, in true Daly style, he single-handedly charged a machine gun placement and invigorated a successful attack that helped break the German lines and led to the American victory.
His actions that day earned Daly a recommendation for yet another Medal of Honor—a record third—
Ultimately he was awarded the Navy Cross for “repeated deeds of heroism and great service.”
Dan Daly received his Medals of Honor and Navy Cross for his valor and selfless courage.
But in reality, Daly’s valor is not his most significant action.
Marines, after all, are expected to be brave.
The fact that he volunteered was his most important act.
He volunteered to hold the position at the Tarter Way in China; to get his men to the Fort in Haiti; and to lead his men into the breach despite overwhelming odds at Belleau Wood.
Dan Daly did his duty.
Dan Daly passed away on April 27, 1937. His memory lived on in the form of the American destroyer DD-519, the USS Daly.
The Daly saw 27 months of service during World War II.