The bravery and courage shown by the service members in US history cannot be quantified and ranked, but they deserve honorable commemorations.
Every person who has given their blood and sweat, and many times their very lives, for the sake of freedom of the country, is an extraordinary human being, and they deserve the highest of respects.
However, many times, we find a few legends in history who stand out even amid all the heroes because of their outstanding commitment to rise above the call of duty.
Veterans of American Legion Post 307 observe the first flag ceremony held at the new Cumming Regional Readiness Center. | Source: Wikimedia Commons
Here are a few of such legends, some of the most decorated service members in US history, who deserve special mention:
1. SERGEANT MAJOR DANIEL J. DALY
Daly was the winner of several medals and awards for his valorous actions taken on various missions and operations. Enlisted in the US Marine Corps on January 10, 1899, he earned a Medal of Honor two times and was recommended for a third.
Portrait of Seegeant Major Daniel J. Daly, a double recipient of the Medal of Honor | Source: Wikimedia Commons
His first Medal of Honor came for his outstanding service and contribution during the Boxer Rebellion in China. He received his second Medal of Honor after he was on reconnaissance in Haiti.
Daly never married but helped raise his sister’s children. Little is known about Daly’s early life, but according to his enlistment records, he was born in Glen Cove on Nov. 11, 1873.
The U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp series called "Distinguished Marines." It features U.S. Marines Lewis B. Puller, Daniel J. Daly, John Basilone and John A. Lejeune | Source: Getty Images
Despite earning his two Medals of Honor by 1915, he served in World War I in France. He was known as a motivator at the camp Lucy le Bocage. He was known to cheer on his fellow soldiers during heavy bombings by German forces.
By the end of his military career, Daly had earned the Medals of Honor and the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Cross, three Letters of Commendation, a Good Conduct Medal with two bronze stars, and the China Relief Expedition Medal.
New "Distinguished Marines" commemorative stamps are seen on envelopes during the unveiling ceremony for the new stamp on November 10, 2005 in San Francisco | Source: Getty Images
He also won the Philippine Campaign Medal; the Expeditionary Medal with one bronze star; the Mexican Service Medal; the Haitian Campaign Medal; the World War I Victory Medal with Aisne; the St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, and Defensive-Sector clasps; the Medaille Militaire; the Croix de Guerre with Palm; and the Fourragere.
After his service, he took a job as a security guard at a Wall Street bank and worked there for 17 years. He died on April 28, 1937, at 63 and was buried at Cypress Hills National Cemetery.
Captain Audie Murphy is sworn in to the Texas National Guard by U. S. Army Major General H. Miller Ainsworth 14 July 1950 | Source: Wikimedia Commons Images
2. MAJOR AUDIE MURPHY
Major Audie Murphy was one of the greatest heroes of the Second World War. He received the Medal of Honor, a Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, a Legion of Merit with Combat Valor, and two Bronze Stars with Combat Valor for his service.
Besides these honors in his own country, he also received foreign honors, including French Forrager, Legion of Honor, Croix de Guerre with Palm and Silver Star, and the Belgian Croix de Guerre with Palm.
Major Audie Murphy promotion photo | Source: Wikimedia Commons
He bagged a total of 37 medals for his outstanding bravery and courage during the time of war. Murphy was also wounded three times and fought in nine major campaigns across Europe.
Enlisted in the US Army in 1942 at 17, he was with the 3rd Infantry Division at Holtzwihr, France. This was when he and his men were attacked by six German Panzer tanks and 250 infantrymen.
Major General Thomas Plewes unveils the new "Distinguished Soldiers" stamp that honors Alvin C. York, John L. Hines, Audie L. Murphy, and Omar N. Bradley | Source Getty Images
However, Murphy bravely held the attack for an hour by himself while he ordered the rest of his men to return to the safety of the woods. He wounded his leg during the combat.
By 1950, Universal Pictures awarded him an acting contract where he played himself in the movie "To Hell and Back." He also had roles in films such as “The Red Badge of Courage.”
He suffered severe depression, became addicted to sleeping pills, and died in a plane crash while on a business trip in 1971 at 46.
U. S. Army publicity photo taken after Murphy's 1948 trip to Paris to receive the Chevalier légion d'honneur and Croix de guerre with palm | Source: Wikimedia Commons
3. COLONEL EDWARD VERNON RICKENBACKER
Colonel Rickenbacker, also known as America’s Ace of Aces, was in the US Army during World War I. He was born in 1890 and the third out of eight children born to Swiss immigrants.
At 12, the burdens of the family fell on him after his father passed on. In trying to make ends meet, he sold newspapers, peddled eggs, and goat’s milk.
He worked in a glassmaking factory, foundry, a brewery, a shoe factory, and a monument works, where he carved and polished his father’s tombstone.
Eddie Rickenbacker (1890-1973) stands in miltary uniform | Source: Getty Images
He fell in love with engines, and fate smiled on him in 1906 when he went to work for the race car driver, Lee Frayer, and head of the Frayer-Miller Automobile Co.
After his first ride in an aircraft in 1916, he decided he wanted to learn to fly and volunteered to join the war even though he was overaged for flight training and had no college degree.
Rickenbacker sits in his Nieuport 28 fighter plane and smiles at the camera, 1910s | Source: Getty Images
With a background as a race car driver, he was originally made a driver in the army but was later reassigned to join the Army Air Corps.
In around nine months of his service, Rickenbacker shot down 26 enemy aircraft as the pilot of the US Air Force. He received one Medal of Honor and seven Distinguished Service Crosses for his service.
Then First Lieutenant Edward V. Rickenbacker, 94th Aero Squadron, American ace, standing up in his Spad plane near Rembercourt, France. | Source: Wikimedia Commons
He won his Medal of Honor for his bravery shown during combat in 1918. On September 25, 1918, Rickenbacker was alone on a volunteer patrol flight over France when he was attacked by seven German planes.
Although he was outnumbered, Rickenbacker managed to fight off all the enemy aircraft and even shot down two. He received the French Croix de Guerre medal for this bravery.
First Lieutenant Edward Vernon Rickenbacker | Source: Getty Images
By October 1, 1918, he already had 12 victories and was promoted to the rank of captain. He was the most successful U.S. Air Service fighter pilot alive at the time. When he left active duty, he was promoted to major.
He became a businessman and a speaker and was credited with helping to persuade the city fathers of 25 cities to develop airports.
Captain Edward Vernon Rickenbacker leaves the offices of the House Aircraft Inquiry Committee, 1925 | Source: Getty Images
As president of Eastern, the airline became the first and only airline to operate as a free-enterprise company. In 1937, it became the first airline to receive an award from the National Safety Council for seven consecutive years of flying more than 141 million passenger miles without a passenger fatality.
In October 1972, Rickenbacker suffered a stroke, traveled to Switzerland, and died there of pneumonia on July 23, 1973. He left behind a wife and two sons.
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