Valor Friday

| November 1, 2019

Today Mason “Crosses the Tee” as it were, with his third post of those who have been awarded the Congressional Medal Of Honor more than once.

Mason

Part three of our series on men who have received two Medals of Honor (MoH) continues. We’ve so far explored the five men who received Medals of Honor for actions during the Civil War and subsequently received a second MoH (three of them for another act during the Civil War, the other two for actions during the Indian Wars and peacetime). Today we’ll have moved forward into the early 20th Century as we explore two incredible men who first were honored with their medals during the Boxer Rebellion.

The Boxers were a group of Chinese militiamen, so named because many had been involved in martial arts, that started an uprising inside China in 1899. The Boxers were upset at the foreign influence taking place in China from Western powers.

Starting in June 1900, the Boxers started an armed insurrection against foreigners and Christians in the country. Seeking refuge in the Legation Quarter in Beijing, the foreigners were besieged for 55 days. In response, an eight nation alliance consisting of America, Austria-Hungary, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Russia sent up to 20,000 men to China to relieve the siege on the Legation Quarter.

John McCloy was a young officer aboard USS Newark in the Philippines when they were sent to China as part of the China Relief Expedition, commonly known as the Boxer Rebellion. Although only 24, he was an experienced seaman, having joined the Merchant Marine at age 15.

A coxswain, he was part of a detachment of men sent ashore from Newark to fight with the Allied forces. From June 13 to the 22nd 1900, he repeatedly distinguished himself through meritorious conduct in the face of the enemy. For his gallant performance he received the Medal of Honor.

After the Boxer Rebellion, he remained in the service. He was warranted as a boatswain in 1903 and then promoted to chief boatswain (chief warrant officer today) six years later. In 1914, McCloy was part of the 2,300 man force sent to occupy Veracruz, Mexico.

The occupation of Veracruz by the United States started on April 21 1914. It was in response to deteriorating relations between the US and Mexico, amidst a Mexican Revolution. The occupation lasted until November and is not remembered as one of America’s best moments. However, the men who were sent there to fight and die did so with great skill and bravery.

McCloy was a part of one of the three Navy rifle companies sent ashore to secure the city. Arriving on the morning of April 21st, the landing and initial occupation of the waterfront was largely uncontested. However, by that evening, the decision was made by the admiral in charge of the operation to take control of the whole city. Thus the Battle of Veracruz began.

During the battle, McCloy was cited “for distinguished conduct in battle and extraordinary heroism.” He was given the Medal of Honor for his actions at Veracruz. The occupation force eventually departed on November 23rd. McCloy continued serving. Upon the US entry into World War I, he was commissioned an ensign in 1917 and temporary lieutenant in 1918. I can find no records of what he did during the war, but he took command of a newly commissioned ship, USS Curlew (a minesweeper) in 1918.

While in command of Curlew, from January 1919 through November 1920, he led his ship through the dangerous task of clearing mines from the North Sea after the end of hostilities. For his role in that operation, he was awarded a Navy Cross.

Made a permanent lieutenant in 1920, he was later assigned to command USS Lark (another minesweeper) in 1923. He retired from the Navy in 1928 as a lieutenant. In 1942, just three years before his death of a heart attack at age 69, he was promoted on the retired list to lieutenant commander.

The US Marine Corps has several very notable men in its history. Some, like Chesty, have become near mythic figures to Marines. Our second subject today is one of those men.

Daniel Daly, who would eventually retire from the Marines as a sergeant major, would distinguish himself repeatedly in combat. Reportedly offered a commission on more than one occasion, he refused. Allegedly saying that he’d rather be “an outstanding sergeant than just another officer.” I have a feeling that Daly was the type of man more at home in the fight than performing staff duties.

Born in 1873, Daly enlisted in 1899 with the Marines during the Spanish-American War, hoping to see action. The war ended before he finished training, but in 1900 he was part of the American force sent to China for the Boxer Rebellion.

With only a year and a half of service, Daly was a private with Captain Newt Hall’s Marine contingent, part of the 1st Marine Regiment. Newt Hall, for his bravery during the battle that was to come would receive a brevet promotion to Major and later the Marine Corps Brevet Medal to denote this honor. The Brevet Medal was second in precedence to the Medal of Honor and ranked above the Navy Cross. Hall’s Brevet Medal was the last one awarded.

As part of the eight-nation force, the 1st Marines were part of the roughly 18,000 men and supporting artillery, marching from Tientsien (modern Tianjin) to Peking (modern Beijing) where the foreign dignitaries and their families had been under siege since June.

Setting off on August 4 1900, the alliance forces fought Chinese army personnel (aligned with the Boxers) at the Battles of Beicang (now Peitsang) and Yangcun (now Yangtsun) on the 5th and 6th of August respectively. On the 12th, the troops arrived near Peking.

The journey had been arduous. Heat stroke and exhaustion had depleted the ranks down to around 10,000 men. The British, American, and Japanese wanted to press the attack into Peking on the 13th, however the Russian commander insisted on a day to prepare. The 13th was used for reconnaissance and the main attack happened on the 14th.

Arriving at the Legation Quarter, Hall, Daly, and the other Marines were posted on Tartar Wall just south of the American legation. Intense enemy fire forced their retreat. Hall and Daly, bayoneted rifle in hand, mounted the wall bastion to defend their position. When Hall left to bring up reinforcements this left Daly alone.

Defending the bastion single-handedly, he came under sniper fire and the enemy stormed his position. He alone held them off until reinforcements arrived. By some estimates, Daly inflicted 200 casualties on the attacking Boxers.

Private Daly received the Medal of Honor for his actions on this day. He remained in the Marine Corps. Daly rose to the rank of Gunnery Sergeant by 1915. Along the way he’d earned the respect of the officers and Marines he worked with. Though a strict disciplinarian, he was well liked by both the enlisted and officers.

1914 saw the start of the First World War, however the US remained officially neutral. Since 1911, Haiti, half of a strategic island in the Caribbean (the other half being the Dominican Republic), had been politically unstable. A series of assassinations and militia forces battling for control of the country, with six men being president from 1911 to 1915. Worried about Imperial German ambitions on the island and to secure American investments, President Wilson ordered 330 Marines to occupy Port-au-Prince, Haiti on July 28 1915.

Gunnery Sergeant Daly was in Haiti and on October 22nd he set off as part of a company of men for a six day reconnaissance. After nightfall on the 24th, as the men were crossing a river in a deep ravine, they were suddenly attacked from three sides by an estimated 400 Caco rebels.

The Marines pushed through the ambush to a defensive position. They maintained this position, under constant fire, through the night. Organizing into three squads, the Marines advanced in three different directions at daybreak. The sudden offensive surprised the Cacos and caused them to scatter.

For his bravery and leadership during this battle, Daly was awarded a second Medal of Honor. He was the first Marine to have received two MoHs and to this day is only one of two Marines to have received two Medals of Honor for separate actions.

Despite believing that medals were “a lot of foolishness”, Daly continued his service into World War I. Smedly Butler, another Marine Corps legend and the other man who received two MoHs for separate events, called Daly “The fightinest Marine I ever knew.” He proved this during his time in Europe.

Arriving in Europe as a First Sergeant on the 4th of November 1917, he served in several major campaigns on the Western Front. From March to May 1918 he was in the Toulon Sector, Aisne in June 1918, and Chateau-Thierry (Belleau Wood) in June as well. It was in Belleau Wood that Daly (and the US Marines as a whole) earned immense respect among their European peers.

On the outskirts of Belleau Wood at Lucy le Bocage (“Lucy Birdcage” to the Americans) on the 5th of June he put out a fire at an ammo dump, at extreme personal risk. Then on the 7th his men were under heavy enemy shelling. He personally visited all of his company’s machine gun crews, spread out over a large area, to cheer them on. On the 10th he single-handedly attacked a German machine gun emplacement, using hand grenades and a machine pistol to capture it. Later that day, during an enemy attack on a village, he brought three wounded men back under heavy enemy fire.

For these actions he received the Navy Cross and the equivalent Army award, the Distinguished Service Cross. He also received the French Médaille Militaire (English:Military Medal, which is somewhat analogous to a modern Bronze Star Medal w/ “V”) and a Silver Citation Star (to be placed on the WWI Victory Medal) for these acts. The Silver Citation

Star later became the Silver Star medal.


DSC

At Belleau Wood, the Marines were outnumbered, outgunned, and pinned down. First Sergeant Daly ordered an attack. In what might be one of the greatest lines of all time, he leapt up and motioned to his men to join him, saying “Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?” The quote is widely attributed to him, but may have come from a different man. It does sound like something he’d say though.

Wounded in combat on June 8 and twice on October 8th, at the conclusion of the war in November 1918 Daly was assigned to the American army of occupation in Germany. Having remained single his entire life, on his return to the US in 1919 he transferred Fleet Marine Corps Reserve. Taking a job as a bank guard on Wall Street (which I’ll guess nobody ever tried to rob), he retired officially from the Marines in 1929. He held that guard job for 17 years.

Sergeant Major Dan Daly passed away of natural causes in 1937 at age 63. His record of awards makes him one of the most decorated Marines of all time. His tale makes him one of the most legendary as well.

Hand salute. Ready, two!

Thanks, Mason.

Category: Marines, Navy, The Warrior Code, Valor

Comments (3)

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  1. ChipNASA says:

    HA! Tried to catch us…..
    PPPbbbhhhhtttttt!!!

  2. 5th/77th FA says:

    “…that such men lived”

    Gunners to your Posts…Load…Fire by the piece from right to left 2 second interval…Prepare… Commence Firing!

    Thank you, again, Mason. I look forward to these posts every Friday.

  3. ninja says:

    Mason:

    Appreciate the time and effort you put in recognizing these brave Gentlemen.

    Heroes. All of them. Salute.

    IMHO, bet Sergeant Major Dan Daly never spoke of his Awards to others.

    Thank You for sharing again these stories of Valor. Always enjoy reading and learning.