Michael J. Daly, who received the Medal of Honor for heroism as a 20-year-old lieutenant in World War II, died of cancer Friday at his home in Fairfield, Conn. He was 83.
President Truman presented Daly with the medal for valor in combat for his actions on April 18, 1945, in Nuremberg, Germany.
According to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society website, Daly engaged in four single-handed firefights to protect his men, killing 15 Germans, silencing three enemy machine guns and wiping out an entire enemy patrol. He was later promoted to captain.
“I’m no hero,” Daly often said, according to the Connecticut Post. “The heroes are those who gave their lives.”
Daly was born Sept. 15, 1924, in New York City to a prominent family. His great-grandfather Thomas F. Gilroy was an Irish immigrant who was mayor of New York City in the 1890s. Daly’s father, Paul, was a lawyer and a decorated veteran of World Wars I and II. One of Daly’s brothers was T.F. Gilroy Daly, an Army Ranger who became a well-known trial lawyer and federal judge.
Reared in Fairfield, Daly attended the U.S. Military Academy but left after one year. He enlisted in the Army and became an infantryman in the Third Division of the Seventh Army during World War II.
Daly was also awarded three Silver Stars, two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star with “V” for acts of bravery. Fewer than 30 World War II Medal of Honor recipients are still alive.
Daly was modest about his military accomplishments.
“Anybody would have done what I did,” he told a friend. “Luck is important in life, but in combat it is crucial. The bravest things are often done with God the only witness.”
Following the war, Daly returned to Fairfield and began a career as a manufacturer’s representative and an entrepreneur.
He devoted a substantial part of his life to St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, Conn. He was one of the hospital’s first lay trustees and served on its board for more than 30 years. He was also instrumental in developing financial support for the hospital.
Ronald J. Bianchi, St. Vincent’s corporate senior vice president, announced that the new St. Vincent’s emergency wing would be named after Daly.
Survivors include his wife of 50 years, Margaret Wallace Daly; two sisters; a daughter; a son; a stepson; four stepdaughters; and three grandsons.