In August 14, 1900, a
U.S. Marine by the name of Daniel J. Daly so distinguished himself by his
gallant conduct in the Battle of Peking, during the Boxer Rebellion, that
he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Fifteen years later on
October 25, 1915, in the capture of Fort Liberte, Haiti, he won a second
Medal of Honor for his valorous actions.
Sergeant Major Daniel Daly USMC
By now a legend in the
Corps, he was amongst the “first to fight” in World War I. For his
gallantry and heroism during that conflict he was decorated by the U.S.
Army, the U.S. Navy and the French government which bestowed on him the
Croix de Guerre.
Many years later, in
World War II, the U.S. Navy remembered that Marine’s brave exploits by
naming a fighting ship in his honor.
Early in 1943 a young
navy commander, fresh from duty at U.S. Fleet Headquarters in Washington,
D.C., took command of the destroyer USS. Daly (DD-519). The ship was in
its final stage of completion and was commissioned on March 10, 1943.
Daly’s skipper together with her officers and men immediately set about
molding themselves into an efficient fighting unit of the Navy. Within
weeks the “tincan”, as these thin-hulled vessels are called, found herself
on patrol in the Atlantic off the coast of Newfoundland. By the end of
June 1943 she was enroute to the Pacific. In August she participated in
the invasion of Kiska in
the Aleutians and remained in Alaskan waters for several months on
patrol. Late in the year she sailed south to warmer waters.
On the day after
Christmas her gunners drew enemy blood by downing two attacking Japanese
bombers during an assault on Cape Glousester, New Britain. In that
operation her sister ship, USS. Brownson (DD-518), was sunk by the enemy.
Exploding depth charges from the sinking destroyer did not deter Daly’s
intrepid captain from rescuing 168 of Brownson’s crew.
Throughout most of 1944
the ship operated continuously in the combat zone. She carried her share
of duties in the westward advance of Allied forces in the Southwest
Pacific campaigns which included eight assault landings.
Under orders to render
fire support to our invading troops on Leyte, Philippines, USS. Daly began
operations in the vicinity of Surigao Strait on October 24, 1944. At the
same time a strong Japanese fleet was entering the lower end of the strait
in an attempt to destroy the several hundred American landing craft and
supply vessels in Leyte Harbor. Thus the stage was set for the opening
surface action, in what later became known as the Battle of Letye Gulf,
which would result in the definitive destruction of the Japanese Navy.
U.S. Task Force
Commander, Rear Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf, deployed his force –
battleships, cruisers, destroyers and PT boats – for what was to be the
last engagement of a classic battle line formation in naval history.
Sources for this article were:
The directory of American Naval Fighting Ships.
U.S. Navy Historical Foundation, Washington, D.C.
NIMITZ by E.B. Potter, U.S.N.I. Press, 1976
Photos from USS Daly Cruise book 1945