b. 15/09/1924 New York. d. 25/07/2008 Fairfield, Connecticut.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 18/04/1945 Nuremberg, Germany.
Daly was born September 15, 1924 in New York City, but resided his entire life in Fairfield, Connecticut, except for one year 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.
Daly graduated from Georgetown Preparatory School in 1941 and joined the Army from Fairfield’s Southport neighborhood in 1942. He attended the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, where he was a classmate of George Patton III. While he was 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.
He participated in the drive through France and was wounded in Aachen, Germany and was sent to England to recover. After he recovered, he rejoined the front lines reassigned to the 3rd Infantry Division and was given a battlefield commission to second lieutenant.
By April 18, 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.
On April 19, 1945, Daly was shot through the head; a bullet entered at his ear and exited from the opposite cheek. He was sent to England and eventually the United States to recuperate. At about the same time, his father, who had been wounded in France, was also being evacuated to the United States.
Daly was subsequently promoted to captain and, on August 23, 1945, was awarded the Medal of Honor. Although still recovering from his wounds, for which he would continue to receive treatment until mid-1946, he attended a ceremony at the White House where President Harry S. Truman formally presented him with the medal. In addition to the Medal of Honor, Daly received three Silver Stars, a Bronze Star with “V” device, and two Purple Hearts. 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.”
Daly returned to Fairfield after he was discharged from the army and began a business career. He 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 Noble Wallace (great-granddaughter of Lew Wallace) in the 1950s and together they had two children, Deirdre M. Daly 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.
Daly died of pancreatic cancer at his Fairfield home on July 25, 2008. His funeral was held on July 29, 2008 at St. Pius X Church in Fairfield and he was buried at Oak Lawn Cemetery with full military honors.
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.
BURIAL LOCATION: OAK LAWN CEMETERY, FAIRFIELD, CONNECTICUT.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.