The Figthingest Marine

Veteran: Sergeant Major Daniel “Dan” Joseph Daly, WWI
Artist: Michael Koulermos

Today’s mega-blockbuster action heroes don’t hold a candle to the man who could have inspired them all, Sergeant Major Daniel “Dan” Joseph Daly. 

Daly is one of the few elite heroes to receive the Medal of Honor twice — and is remembered by another of those heroes as “the fightingest Marine I ever knew.”

Daly enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1899 and was assigned to the Asiatic Fleet. Stationed in China when the Boxer Rebellion broke out, Daly single-handedly defended his post on Tartar Wall the night of August 14, 1900. While waiting for reinforcements to arrive, Daly was repeatedly attacked; he fought off dozens of combatants (Marine lore holds the number at 200) and emerged unscathed, earning his first Medal of Honor.

By 1914, he had risen to the rank of Gunnery Sergeant and was transferred to Haiti. While out on a reconnaissance trip, his platoon was ambushed while crossing a river. Although the Marines made it to shore, their machine gun sunk to the bottom of the river. Hours later, under the cover of darkness, Daly slipped back to the water and recovered the weapon, enabling his platoon to defeat the rebels at Fort Dipitie. 

Once again, his country awarded him a Medal of Honor. 

Daly continued to serve during World War I, where his combat injuries took their toll. He was placed on the list of the Fleet Marine Corps Reserves in 1919 and retired a hero in 1929.