Marine Sergeant Dan Daly entered World War I as one of the United States’ most famous Marines, having already won the Medal of Honor on two separate occasions for his service during the Boxer Rebellion and the U.S. occupation of Haiti. The 44-year-old continued to write his name into the history books during June 1918’s Battle of Belleau Wood, a month-long offensive that was one of the first major World War I battles fought by U.S. troops. On June 5, Daly bravely extinguished a fire on the verge of igniting a cache of explosive ammunition. Two days later, as his Marines were being shredded by enemy machine gun fire, Daly urged them to leave their cover and counterattack by supposedly screaming the famous words, “Come on, you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever?!”
Daly’s near-suicidal courage was put on display once again on June 10, when he singlehandedly charged a German machine gun nest, killing its commander and taking 14 prisoners. That same day, he made several trips into “no man’s land” to drag wounded troops to safety. Daley was wounded later that month during a second solo rescue mission, and suffered two more injuries during the Meuse-Argonne offensive in October 1918. While he was again recommended for the Medal of Honor for his actions at Belleau Wood, the military balked at the prospect of any soldier receiving the award three times, and he was instead given the Distinguished Service Cross and the French Medaille Militaire. General Smedley Butler—himself a double Medal of Honor winner—would later describe Daly as, “the fightingest Marine I ever knew.”
We honor you, Dan Daly.