Joseph W. Dailey

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Joseph W Dailey
Dailey JW.jpg   USMC-E9-SGMMC.svg
5th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps (1969-1973)
Born (1917-02-17)February 17, 1917
Black Mountain, Arkansas
Died July 5, 2007(2007-07-05) (aged 90)
Newport Beach, California
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1941–1945, 1948–1973
Rank Sergeant Major
Commands held Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
Battles/wars World War II
-New Guinea campaign
-Battle of the Bismarck Sea
-Battle of Okinawa
Korean War
Vietnam War
Awards Navy Cross
Silver Star
Bronze Star
Purple Heart

Joseph W. Dailey (17 February 1917 – 5 July 2007) served as the fifth Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps from 1 August 1969 until he retired from active duty in the Marine Corps on 31 January 1973. Dailey was the oldest living former Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps when he died in 2007. Dailey served in combat in three wars — World War II, Korea, and Vietnam — earning the Silver Star for actions during the Battle of Okinawa and the Navy Cross and the Bronze Star for actions during the Korean War. He was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Born 17 February 1917, in Black Mountain, Arkansas, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1941 at Portland, Oregon and underwent recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in California.

During World War II, Sergeant Major Dailey served with the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, and participated in combat operations in Eastern New Guinea; Bismarck Archipelago; Western Caroline Islands and on Okinawa. He was awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry in action against the enemy while serving as Acting Gunnery Sergeant of Company A, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines on Okinawa, 3 May 1945.

Upon his return to the United States, Dailey was discharged from the Marine Corps Reserve on 23 November 1945. On 18 June 1948, he re-enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve, and was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant. He remained inactive until October 1950, when ordered to active duty at the Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton in California, where he served as a company First Sergeant with the 4th Infantry Training Battalion. He was promoted to technical sergeant in August 1951.

In October 1952, he joined the 1st Marine Division in Korea where he earned the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism while serving as Platoon Leader with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division on 25 February 1953; the Bronze Star with Combat "V" and the Purple Heart for wounds received on 26 March 1953, while serving as Company Gunnery Sergeant with Company F. Dailey integrated into the Regular Marine Corps in 1953 and was promoted to Master Sergeant in August 1953.

Following his return to the United States in December 1953, he was again assigned to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, and served, successively, as Company First Sergeant and Company Gunnery Sergeant with Communications-Electronics Schools Battalion. From July 1955 until November 1956, he served as the First Sergeant with the Marine Detachment, USS Bremerton. He next became Battalion Sergeant Major of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton through June 1959. He was promoted to first sergeant on 30 December 1955 and to Sergeant Major on 31 December 1955.

Sergeant Major Dailey reported to Houston, Texas, where he was assigned duty as Sergeant Major on the Inspector-Instructor Staff, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division serving in that capacity until July 1962. Ordered to the Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, he saw duty as Regimental Sergeant Major with the 2nd Marines, 2nd Marine Division. He deployed with the 2nd Marines during the Cuban contingency operations.

In August 1963, Dailey reported to Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, D.C., for duty as G-3 Division Sergeant Major until May 1964. For the next two years, he served as Post Sergeant Major at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C..

Detached in July 1966, Dailey arrived in the Republic of Vietnam the following month, where he became Battalion Sergeant Major, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. In November 1966, he was medically evacuated from Vietnam as a result of injuries sustained in a vehicle accident. In July 1968, he returned to the Republic of Vietnam where he served as Battalion Sergeant Major of the 11th Engineer Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Amphibious Force until November of that year. He then served as the 3rd Marine Division Sergeant Major until July 1969. He earned the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat "V" for his service during the latter tour.

Joseph W Dailey died in Newport Beach, California on July 5, 2007 at age 90.[1] He is survived by his wife, two daughters, fourteen grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren.

Awards and decorations[edit]

Sergeant Major Dailey's personal decorations include:

Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Gold star
Gold star
1st Row Navy Cross Silver Star
2nd Row Bronze Star w/ valor device Purple Heart Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ valor device Combat Action Ribbon
3rd Row Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 2 service stars Navy Unit Commendation Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal w/ 6 service stars American Campaign Medal
4th Row Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 4 service stars World War II Victory Medal Navy Occupation Service Medal National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star
5th Row Korean Service Medal w/ 3 service stars Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Vietnam Service Medal w/ 2 service stars Order of National Security Merit, Gwangbog Medal
6th Row Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ 2 gold stars Korean Presidential Unit Citation United Nations Korea Medal Vietnam Campaign Medal

Navy Cross citation[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hoellwarth, John (July 9, 2007). "5th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps dies". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  2. ^ "Dailey, Joseph W (citation)". Full Text Citations for Award of the Navy Cross to U.S. Marine Corps Personnel, Korean War 1950-1953 (224 Awards). Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

Military offices
Preceded by
Herbert J. Sweet
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
Succeeded by
Clinton A. Puckett