Ultimate Marine (Daly vs Basilone) (Marines Uncovered)

Who is the Ultimate Marine’s Marine? Each day, we’ll compare two Marine Corps legends across three categories: Service (actions while in uniform), Legacy (how their service continued to impact the Corps and the world) and Motivation (esprit de corps and overall badassery). The Marines Blog will judge initial rounds internally and guest writers will take over for the final rounds. Be sure to make your voice heard by voting in our simultaneous fan bracket here on the Marines Blog. Share your opinion on our Facebook page, or tweet your thoughts with us @usmc using the hashtag: #UltimateMarine

Who is the Ultimate Marine’s Marine? Each day, we’ll compare two Marine Corps legends across three categories: Service (actions while in uniform), Legacy (how their service continued to impact the Corps and the world) and Motivation (esprit de corps and overall badassery). The Marines Blog will judge initial rounds internally and guest writers will take over for the final rounds. Be sure to make your voice heard by voting in our simultaneous fan bracket here on the Marines Blog. Share your opinion on our Facebook page, or tweet your thoughts with us @usmc using the hashtag: #UltimateMarine

ViewBracketIf your wife has ever asked you, “Do these pants make me look fat?” then you know the feeling of not having the perfect answer. When I looked at the bracket this afternoon and saw Sgt. Maj. Dan Daly and Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone, I had that exact feeling. 

SERVICE

ViewFanBracketDaly was dubbed “the fightin’est Marine I ever knew” by Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler and it suits him well. He’s fought in three conflicts, lending his deadly arts to the most brutal fighting in all three.

First, there was the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900. Standing a mere 5’6” and weighing only 132 pounds, Daly laid waste to more than 200 enemy attackers single-handedly, earning his first Medal of Honor.

Then, during the Haitian campaign, at 42 years old, Daly led three Marine squads to victory against 400 Haitian insurgents in an intense all-night firefight.

Finally, three years later in World War I, Daly would earn the Distinguished Service Star, the Navy Cross and a Silver Star medal for a slew of heroic actions. In one day of the war alone, Daly captured a machinegun emplacement, unassisted, with a pistol and hand grenades and saved wounded men from the battlefield under intense enemy fire.

Daly kicked more ass in his forties than most Marines during their entire career! And he only lived to be 63, so that’s saying something.

Basilone is no stranger to intense fighting himself. He’s most notably known for his actions on Guadalcanal in 1942, where he and his two machinegun sections crushed a Japanese regiment. Through a trifecta of machinegun fire, mortar and grenades, Basilone rearmed one his disabled sections with a new gun. He then repaired another gun, manned it with deadly effect and repelled the enemy until reinforcements arrived. Later that day, Basilone ran through enemy lines to retrieve ammunition for his Marines. All in a day’s work for ol’ Manila John.

Basilone’s life was cut short later in the war during the battle on Iwo Jima. He kept up his recently established tradition of cramming more heroic acts into one day than most do in a lifetime. While earning the Navy Cross, Basilone destroyed an enemy blockhouse, then the supporting enemy strong point and eventually the entire garrison. That was all before freakin’ breakfast. Then, for lunch, he fought with Marines up a sloping, machinegun-riddled hill to reach an airfield. Later, he led a tank through an enemy minefield. He was finally killed assaulting toward the edge of the airfield by a nearby mortar shell. Once again, all in a day’s work.

When I read Basilone’s citations, I feel that even if you could schedule out a day of war, and perform at 100 percent efficiency, a normal man could never accomplish the heroics Basilone did in just one day. It’s astonishing.

These men represent the Marines’ stouthearted, fighting spirit and that’s why they both continue to be honored through multiple rounds of the bracket. But one must move on.

As far as fighting and winning goes, Daly wrote the book, not to mention most of his medals were earned at an age when many are becoming grandpas. For that, he takes the service category.

LEGACY

However, legacy goes the other way. Although Daly lived longer, fought in more wars and even had a Navy destroyer named after him, his legacy in today’s culture doesn’t match up to Basilone’s.

Those of you who have done the Basilone Challenge during The Crucible at boot camp know what I’m talking about. There’s something about the legacy of Basilone that embeds itself that everything Marines do. Manila John comes up in conversation nearly as often as Chesty.

His legacy lead to the christening of the USS Basilone Destroyer in 1949. The memory of Basilone has fostered more recent traditions like the 22-year-running Basilone memorial parade in his hometown and the release of the “Distinguished Marines” stamps by the U.S. Postal Service in 2005.

Basilone was also the focus of the 2010 HBO Series, “The Pacific.”

Although Basilone keeps appearing, every few years, in things from stamps to TV shows, Daly keeps his legacy eternally relevant with one of the Corps’ most famous quotes.

“Come on, you sons of bitches, Do you want to live forever?”

I’d like to think Basilone heard that quote a time or two coming up as a Marine because he followed it to his death. His tenacious spirit has allowed his legacy to live on for generations, and I think that would make Daly proud.

Legacy goes to Basilone.

MOTIVATION

Both of these Marines motivate everyone who knows about them, but there are some little-known details about the two that set them apart.

If you’ve ever been a Marine, then you know about Oceanside, Calif. outside of Camp Pendleton (AKA Marine Town). Basilone knew about it too. In fact, he was married in Oceanside to a Marine by the name of Sgt. Lena Mae Riggi. He took his new bride to honeymoon at an onion farm in Oregon.

Almost immediately after the festivities, he requested to go back overseas to continue fighting.

Pretty motivating trash, right?

Daly does him one better.

Supposedly, Daly was offered a commission twice, to which Daly said he would rather be, “an outstanding sergeant than just another officer.” He didn’t like medals either, saying that they are, “a lot of foolishness.”

In addition to combat in China, Haiti and France, he served in Panama, Cuba, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

In all, Daly fought against more than five different nations, making him probably the most wanted man in the world at his time.

After his Marine Corps career, Daly served as a bank guard on Wall Street, New York City. It was known as the most dangerous bank in the world, not really, but I’d be scared to look at someone wrong with Daly on guard.

Although it won’t please everyone, I have to give the round to Sgt. Maj. Dan Daly. As an older man of smaller stature, he proved there is no job too big and no enemy too strong for a fighting Marine.

— — — — — —

Round One

Daly vs Lejeune

Foss vs Hulbert

Diamond vs Gray

Basilone vs Johnson

Puller vs Barnum

Hathcock vs Mawhinney

Vittori vs Glenn

Butler vs Davis

Round Two

Daly vs Foss

Diamond vs Basilone

Puller vs Hathcock

Glenn vs Butler

Final Four

Daly vs Basilone

Puller vs Butler

The Ultimate Marine’s Marine

Daly vs Puller

— — — — — —


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Ultimate Marine (Daly vs Basilone) (Marines Uncovered)