January 29, 1947 (Norwalk, CT) – May 14, 1969; 22 years old
Last local address: 5 St. John Street, East Norwalk
Enlistment date: unknown
MOS: 91A10, Corpsman
Tour Start Date: March 27, 1969
Service number: 52725281
Unit: Americal Division, 196th Infantry Brigade, 21st Infantry, 3rd Battalion, Headquarters and Headquarters Company
Born to Raymond Paul (1914-1950) and Olive Stow Shea Salancy (1918-2003). Olive remarried to Alex Salancy on August 30, 1963. One brother, Dennis; one sister Paula Ray.
Casualty Location: Quang Tin Province, South Vietnam
Awarded the Medal of Honor and Purple Heart Medal
From The Norwalk Hour May 19, 1969
Daniel J. Shea, U.S. Army Medic, Killed In Vietnam
“The mountains around Chulai are so beautiful you wouldn’t believe a war is being fought here.” Private First Class Daniel J. Shea, 22, of 5 St. John Street, wrote that sentence to his mother recently upon arriving at the U.S. base in Chulai. He died in those mountains Wednesday night while on a search and destroy sweep with Company C, 196th Regiment of the Americal Division. Mrs. Olive Stow Shea Salancy received word of the death Saturday morning when an Army sergeant visited her East Norwalk home. Confirmation came later in the day when an Army colonel reiterated the fact. Still later, on Sunday, a telegram from the Department of the Army gave added corroboration. It said that PFC Shea had been “killed while at a night defensive position.” It thanked Mrs. Shea in teh name of the President and the Secretary of the Army. Mrs. Salancy was courageous this morning when talking about the event and about her oldest son. “I have a lot of fellings, but I keep them inside. I hope President Nixon can solve the Vietnam problem, but I hope the solution doesn’t give the country to the Communists. We’ve spent too much there. It wouldn’t be right.” PFC Shea had been in the Far East only six weeks and in the Army just two weeks more than a year. He was a medic, a job he learned at Fort Sam Houston in Texas after previous training at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. He had also been stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. His mother described him as a quiet young man who had enjoyed most to be around boats on the East Norwalk waterfront. He didn’t like war and didn’t look forward to Vietnam, but he said little about these feelings and when the time came to shoulder the burden, he did so without fuss. A younger brother, Marine Lance Corporal Dennis Shea, had enlisted two years before and had already served a tour in Vietnam. He expects to be discharged soon. And Daniel’s late father, Raymond Paul Shea, had served illustriously in World War II, especially during the Normandy invasion where he had received the Bronze Star Medal and several Unit Citations. Mr. Shea suffered multiple wounds in battle and they may have contributed to his early death in 1950. Also surviving are a sister, Paula Ray Shea; an uncle, Everett Stow of Rowayton and his paternal grandmother, Mrs. Helen Shea of Port Chester, New York. Arrangements are incomplete and will be announced by the Collins Funeral Home.
From The Norwalk Hour May 28, 1969
Just three days before the nation pauses to pay tribute to its dead from all wars, Norwalk paid final honors to Private First Class Daniel J. Shea, its 13th son to fall in combat in Vietnam. Between the time his family was informed of his death and the services were held Tuesday, still another Norwalk GI, Specialist 4th Class Willie Davis, was added to the casualty list. Full military honors were given the young medic, who died during enemy action while on a search and destroy mission with the 196th Regiment of the Americal Division. He had been in the Army just over a year, and had arrived in the combat zone about six weeks before his death. Representatives of veterans organizations, city officials and a large contingent of uniformed policemen and firemen were on hand for the funeral. The flag-draped casket was borne between the ranks of uniformed men by an Army detachment from Fort Hamilton, New York. The sun shone brightly on the knot of mourners assembled on the flat plain of St. John’s Cemetery where the interment took place. Earlier, a requiem mass had been celebrated in St. Thomas the Apostle Church, home parish of the young GI whose mother, Mrs. Olive Stow Shea Salancy lives at 5 St. John Street. Reverend John Smiley, assistant pastor was the celebrant, and Right Reverend John F. Cavanaugh, pastor, was seated in the sanctuary. At the cemetery, committal prayers were read by Father Smiley.
CITATION FOR AWARD OF THE CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR
QUANG TRI PROVINCE, REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM
MAY 14, 1969
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. PFC Shea, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, distinguished himself while serving as a medical aidman with Company C, 3rd Battalion, during a combat patrol mission. As the lead platoon of the company was crossing a rice paddy, a large enemy force in ambush positions opened fire with mortars, grenades and automatic weapons. Under heavy crossfire from three sides, the platoon withdrew to a small island in the paddy to establish a defensive perimeter. PFC Shea, seeing that a number of his comrades had fallen in the initial hail of fire, dashed from the defensive position to assist the wounded. With complete disregard for his safety and braving the intense hostile fire sweeping the open rice paddy, PFC Shea made four trips to tend wounded soldiers and to carry them to the safety of the platoon position. Seeing a fifth wounded comrade directly in front of one of the enemy strong – points, PFC Shea ran to his assistance. As he reached the wounded man, PFC Shea was grievously wounded. Disregarding his welfare, PFC Shea tended his wounded comrade and began to move him back to the safety of the defensive perimeter. As he neared the platoon position, PFC Shea was mortally wounded by a burst of enemy fire. By his heroic actions PFC Shea saved the lives of several of his fellow soldiers. PFC Shea’s gallantry in action at the cost of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.
The award of the CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR
was presented to his family on 16 February 1971
at The White House
by the President of the United States of America, Richard M. Nixon
From The Norwalk Hour February 17, 1971
SMILES, TEARS AS MOTHER RECEIVES SON’S MEDALS
“I want to thank you for your dedication and love of country.” These words of thanks and praise were given Mrs. Olive S. Salancy of this city Tuesday by President Richard M. Nixon as he presented her the Congressional Medal of Honor awarded posthumously to her son, PFC Daniel J. Shea, for extraordinary gallantry in Vietnam. Mrs. Salancy was flanked by her son, Dennis, and daughter Mrs. Walter June, as she stood before the President in the East Room of the White House. She was smiling through tears as the President took her hand firmly and offered the framed decoration and plaque representing the nation’s highest military honor. She took the frame tenderly and looked at it admiringly as the President shook hands with Dennis and Mrs. June before moving to another bereaved family receiving identical honors. There were some 400 people in the East Room when the President walked in, accompanied by Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, Army Secretary Stanly Resor, Navy Secretary John Chaffee and Air Force Secretary Dr. Robert Seaman. The President remained in the room for almost an hour making the 12 awards and shaking hands with every member of every family. The press was excluded from the ceremony and this account was furnished by Representative Stewart McKinney of Fairfield who was present. He reported it was a somber event. Little advance notice had been afforded of the citation by which PFC Shea had merited the Medal of Honor. White House aides explained this by noting that President Nixon believes it is the right of the family to know the citation in person before it is released to the press. It was with some difficulty that The Hour learned of the citation Tuesday just before the press run, again through the efforts of Mr. McKinney. Mrs. Salancy and her children were the guests of the federal government while in Washington for three days. They were housed at the Mayflower Hotel. They were not registered by name and it was impossible to reach them for comment. They are scheduled to return here tonight. Accompanying them throughout their trip from Kennedy International Airport were two Army officers and one enlisted man. PFC Shea is the second Norwalker ever awarded the Medal of Honor and the second Connecticut man to be awarded it in the Vietnam War. Marine Captain Harry Darman of Cheshire is also a recipient. He also received it posthumously. Decorations were unpopular during the nation’s early years because many people considered them symbols of European monarchies. The establishment of the Medal of Honor by Congress in 1861 evoked much debate. More than 1,900 servicemen received it during the Civil War and Indian Wars. The Medal of Honor remained the only U.S. decoration until World War I when Congress created others and restricted its award to persons who performed only the most extraordinary acts of heroism. The medal is predated only by the Badge of Military Merit which General George Washington created in 1782 to honor soldiers for extraordinary bravery during the Revolutionary War. Only three persons received it. This decoration became the Purple Heart in 1932 by Presidential decree in celebration of Washington’s birthday. It had not been awarded in the intervening years.
From The Bridgeport Telegram April 15, 1971
DANIEL SHEA DAY RITES, JUNE 13 ON RAM ISLAND
Extensive plans to honor local posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor recipient PFC Daniel Shea were announced at Tuesday night’s Common Council meeting by Councilman Thomas C. O’Connor and William A. Collins. Mr. O’Connor said that President Richard M. Nixon has been invited to attend the ceremonies on June 13 (Daniel Shea Day), at which Ram Island will be renamed Shea Island, and a stone and bronze “working memorial” on Beach road in Calf Pasture park will be unveiled. Ram Island was chosen for renaming because young Shea had grown up as a local boating and water sports enthusiast, and spent much of his time on the island. The memorial, which is being designed by Norwalk architect James Conte, was described as a three walled court holding two bronze tablets commemorating Shea and 14 other Norwalk servicemen killed in Vietnam. Located adjacent to the Coast Guard station, the memorial will face out to Ram Island and might also include a flag pole and an “eternal flame.” Tuesday night, James Romano of the Norwalk Building Trades council said his organization will provide free labor, and Mr. O’Connor said local merchants will provide free building materials. Mr. O’Connor said some $2,000 to pay for the two plaques will be sought from public donations. For that day, Mr. O’Connor said he has asked Mr. Nixon for a naval vessel to fire a salute, a fly-over of jets and an Army band. The day will also feature a boat parade and fireworks, he said. PFC Shea was killed in May of 1969, while serving in Vietnam. His mother, Mrs. Olive Salancy of 5 St. John Street, was presented the Medal of Honor by the President at a White House ceremony this January.
Private Shea is buried in St. John’s Cemetery; Section A, Lot 113, Grave 2.
Plaque at the Shea – Magrath Memorial at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, Connecticut