Sergeant Major Joseph W. Dailey served as the 5th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps from 1 August 1969 until he retired from active duty in the Marine Corps on 31 January 1973. 


Born 17 February 1917, in Black Mountain, Arkansas, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1941 at Portland, Oregon and underwent recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, 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 Medal 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 reenlisted 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, 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, 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division on 25 February1953; the Bronze Star Medal 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 Detachment First Sergeant with the Marine Detachment, USS Bremerton. He next became Battalion Sergeant Major of the 3d 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, 23d 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 2d Marines, 2d Marine Division. He deployed with the 2d 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. 


Detached in July 1966, Dailey arrived in the Republic of Vietnam the following month, where he became Battalion Sergeant Major, 2d 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, 3d Marine Division, III Marine Amphibious Force until November of that year. He then served as the 3d Marine Division Sergeant Major until July 1969. He earned the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat "V" for his service during the latter tour. 


Sergeant Major Dailey passed away of natural causes on 5 July 2007 in Newport Beach, California. He was 90. 

His personal decorations include: the Navy Cross; the Silver Star; the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V"; the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat "V"; the Purple Heart; and the Combat Action Ribbon.

Sergeants Major of the Marine Corps