Medal of honor: Michael J. Daly
Every weekday for 110 straight days we will feature a different living recipient of the Medal of Honor. These are the men who have received their nation's highest military honor. Brian is a board member of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. The words and photos are courtesy of Artisan Books, publishers of "Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty by Peter Collier with photographs by Nick Del Calzo.
MICHAEL J. DALY
First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Company A, 15th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division
Michael Daly entered West Point in 1942, buthe left after one year to enlist as a private in the infantry. He trained in England and waded ashore on Omaha Beach on D-Day with the 1st Infantry Division, known as “the Big Red One.” After moving through France and into Germany, Daly was wounded near Aachen; he recuperated in England, then returned to action assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division and was given a battlefield commission as a second lieutenant.
Early on the morning of April 18, 1945, First Lieutenant Daly was in command of an infantry company moving through the rubble on the outskirts of Nuremberg, where bombed-out houses provided good cover for German snipers. As the Americans were going down the city’s main thoroughfare, an enemy machine gun suddenly opened up from across a city square. As his men fell all around him, Daly charged the German position and killed the three-man crew with his carbine. Continuing on ahead of his unit, he came upon an enemy patrol armed with rocket launchers entrenched in the shell of a house and ready to ambush American tanks. He again opened fire with his carbine. Though the Germans responded by firing rockets, he held his ground and kept shooting until he had killed all six members of the patrol.
As he continued to move ahead of his company, Daly entered what had been a city park. A German machine gun began firing from close range. When one of his men was killed, he picked up the soldier’s rifle and used it to shoot both enemy gunners. In all, he killed fifteen Germans that afternoon and took out three machine-gun positions.
The next day, as he was leading his company into action, Daly was shot in the face; the bullet entered at one ear and exited the opposite cheek. Falling to the ground, he felt that he might drown in his own blood until one of his men cleared his throat.
Daly received medical treatment in England and in the States until mid-1946 but was well enough to travel to the White House on Aug. 23, 1945, to receive the Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman. The next day, he was back home in Connecticut, riding in a motorcade. Alongside him was his father, Paul Daly, a World War I recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross who had twice been recommended for the Medal of Honor. The elder Daly had reentered the Army after Pearl Harbor, was severely wounded while serving as a regimental commander in northern France, and was sent back to the States to recuperate. Sitting next to him that day, Michael wished his father had received the medal he was wearing around his neck.
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