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First Name: Michael

Last Name: Daly

Birthplace: New York City, NY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Joseph

Date of Birth: 15 September 1924

Date of Death: 25 July 2008

Rank: Captain

Years Served: 1942-1946
Michael Joseph Daly

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Michael Joseph Daly
Captain, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

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

Michael J. Daly was born on 15 September 1924 in New York City, but resided in Fairfield, CT, his entire life, except for one year that he and his wife lived in County Wicklow, Ireland. 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. His great-grandfather, Thomas F. Gilroy, was an Irish immigrant who was the mayor of New York City in the 1890s. Michael Daly had three brothers, Gilroy, Daniel and Dermot and three sisters, Madeleine Potter, Bevin Patterson and Alison Gerard.

Military Service

After graduating from Georgetown Preparatory School in 1941, Daly joined the Army from Fairfield's Southport neighborhood in 1942 and attended the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY, where he was a classmate of George Patton IV. While 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. 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. His father also volunteered to serve in the war and was sent first to Guadalcanal, then as a regimental commander to France.

After participating in the drive through France, Daly 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. By 18 April 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. 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, 19 April, 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 to the U.S. to recuperate. At about the same time, his father, who had been wounded in France, was also being evacuated to the U.S.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Captain (then Lieutenant), U.S. Army, Company A, 15th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division.

Place and date: Nuremberg, Germany, 18 April 1945.

Citation: 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.

Daly was subsequently promoted to Captain. Although still recovering from his wounds (he would continue to receive treatment until mid-1946), on 23 August 1945, he attended a ceremony at the White House where President Harry S. Truman formally presented him with the Medal of Honor.

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."

Post-War Life

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. 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. 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.

Daly married Margaret Wallace in the 1950s and together they had two children, Deirdre and Michael. 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.

Medals and Awards

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


Due to the National Personnel Records Center fire of 1973, 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. 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.

St. Vincent's Medical Center Emergency Wing

St. Vincent's Medical Center, Bridgeport, CT, plans to name its new emergency wing in his honor.

Captain Michael J. Daly Highway

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:

AN ACT RENAMING A SEGMENT OF INTERSTATE ROUTE 95 FROM BRIDGEPORT TO WESTPORT. 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."

Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame

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.

Death and Burial

Captain Michael J. Daly died of pancreatic cancer at his Fairfield home on 25 July 2008. His funeral was held on 29 July 2008 at St. Pius X Church in Fairfield and he was buried at Oak Lawn Cemetery in Fairfield, CT, with full military honors.

The 10th Mountain Division of Fort Drum and the U.S. Military Academy of West Point performed the ceremony. The ceremony included a three round volley and West Point's bugle sounding "Taps" as preludes to a military helicopter flying over the cemetery.

Honoree ID: 1355   Created by: MHOH




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