Birth and Early Life:
Mary Hennessy gave birth to her third child on May 20, 1914. He was named for his father, Daniel, a grain company manager in the town of Reynolds, North Dakota. Joseph Hennessy (as he was known on the 1930 Census) was raised in Reynolds and married Elizabeth Jeanette Phillips, a pretty graduate of North Dakota University. They settled in Mandan.
Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Daniel Hennessy accepted a Second Lieutenant‚??s commission in the Marine Corps in July, 1936. He attended the Schools Detachment at the Philadelphia Navy Yard for training, and received his confirmed commission on March 31, 1937. Lieutenant Hennessy was assigned to the Marine Detachment aboard fleet carrier¬†USS Lexington.
Service Prior to 1941:
Hennessy served aboard the ‚??Lex‚?? until June 1938, when he was detached to the Rifle Range at MCB San Diego. He assisted the Chief Range Officer through January 1939, when he became a company officer of the base‚??s headquarters company. Hennessy applied for aviation training, and was approved in May. Shortly after starting his Naval Aviator training, Hennessy was promoted to First Lieutenant. On July 10, 1940, Marine Bombing Squadron One received a new personnel and gunnery officer. Lieutenant Hennessy would remain with Bombing One through the end of 1940, seeing service at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Hennessy was promoted to captain sometime in 1941; he joined fighter squadron VMF-221 on May 26, 1942 and was made executive officer, reporting to the squadron commander¬†Major Floyd Parks. In addition to his duties as XO, Captain Hennessy piloted an¬†F2A-3 Brewster Buffalo¬†and led the squadron‚??s Second¬†Division.
Date Of Loss:
Captain Hennessy piloted Buffalo #01522 (squadron markings MF-7) on the morning of June 4, 1942; his division was instructed to take off a few minutes after 0600 and, instead of being vectored to the incoming Japanese aircraft, stood off Midway on the chance that a second strike would approach from another direction. By 0624, Midway‚??s radar operators decided that no threat was incoming, and Hennessy and Captain Kirk Armistead were ordered to take their divisions to help Major Parks‚??s pilots, who were already engaged. Hennessy, accompanied by his wingman Lieutenant Ellwood Lindsay, led the Second Division into action against the Japanese bombers. A swarm of enemy fighters entered the fray, and Hennessy‚??s division was shot to pieces. The captain from North Dakota was one of those who fell from the sky in flames. Daniel Hennessy was awarded a Navy Cross for his part in the battle.
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Captain Daniel J. Hennessy (MCSN: 0-5356), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession while serving as Executive Officer and a Pilot in Marine Fighting Squadron TWO HUNDRED TWENTY-ONE (VMF-221), Marine Air Group TWENTY-TWO (MAG-22), Naval Air Station, Midway, during operations of the U.S. Naval and Marine Forces against the invading Japanese Fleet during the Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942. Leading his squadron in a dauntless and aggressive attack against a vastly superior number of Japanese bomber and fighter planes, Captain Hennessy aided in disrupting the plans of the enemy and lessening the effectiveness of their attack, thereby contributing materially to the success of our forces. As a result of his courageous and daring tactics and because of the circumstances attendant upon this engagement, there can be little doubt that Captain Hennessy gallantly gave up his life in the service of his country. He displayed the characteristics of a fine leader and excellent airman, in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. Action Date: 4-Jun-42