Medal of Honor Recipients
for Pearl Harbor
THOMAS JAMES REEVES
9 December 1895 7 December 1941
Rank and organization: Radio Electrician (Warrant Officer), Chief Petty Officer (Chief Radioman) U.S. Navy
Years of service: 1917 - 1919 (Navy Reserve),
1920 - 1941 (Navy)
Accredited to: Connecticut
Awards: Medal of Honor, Awarded Posthumously
Thomas James Reeves, born in Thomaston, Connecticut, 9 December 1895, was a US Navy radioman who became the namesake of the destroyer escort USS Reeves. Reeves was killed during the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
He enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve as Electrician third class on 20 July 1917. Released from duty 21 July 1919, he was recalled to active duty and was transferred to the regular Navy 16 April 1920 and served until discharged 21 August 1921. On 12 October 1921 he re-enlisted in the Navy making it his career.
Advanced through the rates to chief radioman, Reeves was serving in the battleship California (BB-44) when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941. During that attack the mechanized ammunition hoists in the battleship were put out of commission. Reeves "... on his own initiative, in a burning passageway, assisted in the maintenance of an ammunition supply by hand to the antiaircraft guns until he was overcome by smoke and fire which resulted in his death." For his distinguished conduct, RMC Reeves was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Medal of Honor Citation: "For distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, extraordinary courage and disregard of his own safety during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. After the mechanized ammunition hoists were put out of action in the U.S.S. California, Reeves, on his own initiative, in a burning passageway, assisted in the maintenance of an ammunition supply by hand to the antiaircraft guns until he was overcome by smoke and fire, which resulted in his death."
In 1943, the destroyer escort USS Reeves (DE-156) was named in his honor.
Lieutenant Donald K. Ross, circa 1944
DONALD KIRBY ROSS
8 December 1910 27 May 1992
Rank and organization: Machinist, U.S. Navy
Entered service at: Denver, Colorado
Years of service: 1929 - 1956
Ending Rank: Captain
Battles: Attack on Pearl Harbor, Battle of Normandy, Operation Dragoon
Awards: Medal of Honor
Place of death: Bremerton, Washington
Donald Kirby Ross (8 December 1910 27 May 1992), born Beverly, Kansas was an officer of the United States Navy who received the Medal of Honor.
Ross enlisted in the U.S. Navy in Denver, Colorado, on 3 June 1929 and graduated company honorman from basic training, San Diego, Calif.. He completed Machinist Mate School, Norfolk, Va. first in his class and was assigned to USS Henderson (AP-1) on a China service run.
While serving in hospital ship Relief (AH-1), Ross saw his first action (with the Marines) in Nicaragua in 1931. Advancing through the rates on the minesweeper Brant (AM-24), destroyer Simpson (DD-221) and cruiser Minneapolis (CA-36), he attained the rank of Warrant Officer Machinist in October 1940, and was assigned to the battleship Nevada (BB-36).
During the 7 December 1941 Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor, Nevada was badly damaged by bombs and torpedoes. Ross distinguished himself by assuming responsibility to furnish power to get the ship underway - the only battleship to do so during the Japanese attack.
Medal of Honor Citation: "For distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, extraordinary courage and disregard of his own life during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. When his station in the forward dynamo room of the U.S.S. Nevada became almost untenable due to smoke, steam, and heat, Machinist Ross forced his men to leave that station and performed all the duties himself until blinded and unconscious. Upon being rescued and resuscitated, he returned and secured the forward dynamo room and proceeded to the after dynamo room where he was later again rendered unconscious by exhaustion. Again recovering consciousness he returned to his station where he remained until directed to abandon it."
Ross was promoted to Chief Machinist in March 1942. He was presented the Medal of Honor by Admiral Chester Nimitz on 18 April 1942, and was commissioned an Ensign in June 1942. Later in the war, he also participated in the landings at Normandy and Southern France.
He rose steadily in temporary rank to Lieutenant Commander by the end of the war, reverting to Lieutenant at its conclusion. He again received promotion to Lieutenant Commander in 1949 and to Commander in November 1954. Upon his retirement from active duty in July 1956, after twenty-seven years' of service aboard every type of surface ship then afloat, he was promoted to Captain on the basis of his combat awards.
Making his home in Washington state after leaving the Navy, Captain Ross was active in farm life and community affairs, and in perpetuating the memory of the Pearl Harbor attack, which he described as "not a story about a defeat. It's a story about a job well done". He attended 50th Anniversary ceremonies at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1991, during which a memorial was dedicated to his old ship, USS Nevada. Captain Donald K. Ross died at Bremerton, Washington, on 27 May 1992.
In 1997, the guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG-71) was named in honor of Captain Ross.
ROBERT R. SCOTT
July 13, 1915 - December 7, 1941
Rank and organization: Machinist's Mate First Class (Petty Officer First Class), U.S. Navy
Years of service: 1938-1941
Accredited to Ohio
Awards: Medal of Honor, Awarded Posthumously
Photo submitted by Bill Gonyo
Arlington National Cemetery, #34-3939
Entered the US Navy from Ohio
Earned the Medal of Honor for heroism at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Died: December 07, 1941 age: 26
Robert R. Scott was born in Massillon, Ohio, on 13 July 1915 and enlisted in the United States Navy on 18 April 1938. Machinist's Mate First Class Scott was assigned to USS California (BB-44) when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. The compartment containing the air compressor to which Scott was assigned as his battle station was flooded as a result of a torpedo hit. The remainder of the personnel evacuated the space, but Scott refused to leave, saying words to the effect that This is my station and I will stay and give them air as long as the guns are going. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism.
Medal of Honor Citation: For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. The compartment, in the U.S.S. California, in which the air compressor, to which Scott was assigned as his battle station, was flooded as the result of a torpedo hit. The remainder of the personnel evacuated that compartment but Scott refused to leave, saying words to the effect "This is my station and I will stay and give them air as long as the guns are going.''
In 1943, the destroyer escort USS Scott (DE-214) was named in his honor. Scott was also a former student at Ohio State University where the Scott House dormitory is named after him.
June 3, 1893 December 7, 1941
Rank and organization: Chief Watertender, U.S. Navy
Accredited to: New Jersey
Years of service: World War I (Army), 1919 - 1941 (Navy)
Served on: USS Litchfield (DD-336), USS Utah (AG-16)
Awards: Medal of Honor, Awarded Posthumously
Photo is from the Naval Historical Center.
Peter Tomich (June 3, 1893 December 7, 1941), born Prolog, Austria-Hungary was an ethnic Croat born in Prolog near Ljubuki, Austria-Hungary, in what later became Bosnia and Herzegovina. During World War I he served in the US Army. After enlisting in the United States Navy in January 1919, he initially served in the destroyer Litchfield (DD-336).
By 1941, he had become a Chief Watertender on board the training and target ship Utah (AG-16). On December 7, 1941, while the ship lay in Pearl Harbor, moored off Ford Island, she was torpedoed during Japan's raid on Pearl Harbor. Tomich was on duty in a boiler room. As Utah began to capsize, he remained below, securing the boilers and making certain that other men escaped, and so lost his life. For his "distinguished conduct and extraordinary courage" at that time, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. His Medal of Honor was on display at the Navy's Senior Enlisted Academy (Tomich Hall) until it was posthumously awarded to members of his family on 18 May 2006, aboard the USS Enterprise in the Adriatic Sea, off the coast of Croatia.
Medal of Honor Citation: For distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, and extraordinary courage and disregard of his own safety, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor by the Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Although realizing that the ship was capsizing, as a result of enemy bombing and torpedoing, Tomich remained at his post in the engineering plant of the U.S.S. Utah, until he saw that all boilers were secured and all fireroom personnel had left their stations, and by so doing lost his own life.
The destroyer escort USS Tomich (DE-242), 19431974, was named in honor of Chief Watertender Tomich.
FRANKLIN VAN VALKENBURGH
5 April 1888 7 December 1941
Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Navy
Years of service 1905 - 1941
Appointed from: Wisconsin
Commands: USS Talbot (DD-114), Destroyer Squadron Five, USS Melville (AD-2), USS Arizona (BB-39)
Awards: Medal of Honor, Awarded Posthumously
Photo from the Naval Historical Center sent by Bill Gonyo
Franklin Van Valkenburgh (5 April 1888 7 December 1941), born Minneapolis, Minnesota was the last captain of the USS Arizona. He was killed when the Arizona exploded and sank during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Franklin Van Valkenburgh was appointed a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy on 15 September 1905 and graduated on 4 June 1909. After service in the battleship Vermont (BB-20) and in South Carolina (BB-26), Van Valkenburgh was commissioned ensign on 5 June 1911. Traveling to the Asiatic Station soon thereafter, he joined the submarine tender Rainbow (AS-7) at Olongapo, Philippine Islands, on 11 September. He reported to the gunboat Pampanga (PG-39) as executive officer on 23 June 1914 for a short tour in the southern Philippines before his detachment on 4 August.
After returning to the United States, Lt. (jg.) Van Valkenburgh joined Connecticut (BB-18) on 11 November. Following postgraduate work in steam engineering at the Naval Academy in September 1915, he took further instruction in that field at Columbia University before reporting to Rhode Island (BB-17) on 2 March 1917. The entry of the United States into World War I found Van Valkenburgh serving as the battleship's engineering officer. Subsequent temporary duty in the receiving ship at New York preceded his first tour as an instructor at the Naval Academy. On 1 June 1920, Van Valkenburgh reported on board Minnesota (BB-22) for duty as engineer officer, and he held that post until the battleship was decommissioned in November 1921.
He again served as an instructor at the Naval Academy - until 15 May 1925 - before he joined Maryland (BB-46) on 26 June. Commissioned commander on 2 June 1927 while in Maryland, he soon reported for duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations on 21 May 1928 and served there during the administrations of Admirals Charles F. Hughes and William V. Pratt. Detached on 28 June 1931, Van Valkenburgh received command of the destroyer Talbot (DD-114) on 10 July and commanded Destroyer Squadron 5 from 31 March 1932.
After attending the Naval War College, Newport, R.I., and completing the senior course in May 1934, Comdr. Van Valkenburgh next served as inspector of naval materiel at the New York Navy Yard before going to sea again as commanding officer of Melville (AD-2) from 8 June 1936 to 11 June 1938. Promoted to captain while commanding Melville - on 23 December 1937 - he served as inspector of materiel for the 3d Naval District from 6 August 1938 to 22 January 1941.
On 5 February 1941, Van Valkenburgh relieved Capt. Harold C. Train as commanding officer of Arizona (BB-39). Newly refitted at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Arizona served as flagship of Battleship Division 1 for the remainder of the year, based primarily at Pearl Harbor with two trips to the west coast. On 4 December, the battleship went to sea in company with Nevada (BB-36) and Oklahoma (BB-37) for night surface practice and, after conducting these gunnery exercises, returned to Pearl Harbor independently on the 6th to moor at berth F-7 alongside Ford Island.
Both Capt. Van Valkenburgh and the embarked division commander, Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, spent the next Saturday evening, 6 December, on board. Suddenly, shortly before 08:00 on 7 December, Japanese planes roared overhead, shattering the Sunday peace and punctuating it with the explosion of bombs and the staccato hammering of machine guns. Capt. Van Valkenburgh sped forward from his cabin and arrived on the navigation bridge where he immediately began to direct his ship's defense. A quartermaster in the pilot house asked if the captain wanted to go to the conning tower -a less-exposed position in view of the Japanese strafing - but Van Valkenburgh refused to do so and continued to man a telephone, fighting for his ship's life.
A violent explosion suddenly shook the ship, throwing the three occupants of the bridge - Van Valkenburgh, an ensign, and the quartermaster, to the deck, and shattering the bridge windows. Dazed and shaken, the ensign stumbled through the flames and smoke and escaped, but the others were never seen again. A continuing fire, fed by ammunition and oil, blazed for two days until finally put out on 9 December. A subsequent search recovered only Capt. Van Valkenburgh's class ring.
The captain was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in gallantly fighting his ship, he directed its defense in the tragically short time allotted him.
Medal of Honor Citation: "For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor T. H., by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. As commanding officer of the U.S.S. Arizona, Captain Van Valkenburgh gallantly fought his ship until the U.S.S. Arizona blew up from magazine explosions and a direct bomb hit on the bridge which resulted in the loss of his life."
In 1943, the destroyer USS Van Valkenburgh (DD-656) was named in his honor.
JAMES RICHARD WARD
September 10, 1921 - December 7, 1941
Rank and organization: Seaman First Class, U.S. Navy
Years of service: 1940-1941
Entered service at: Springfield, Ohio
Awards: Medal of Honor, Awarded Posthumously
James Richard Ward (10 September 1921 7 December 1941) was born in Springfield, Ohio. He enlisted in the United States Navy at Cincinnati, Ohio, on 25 November 1940. After basic training, he reported on board the battleship Oklahoma (BB-37).
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Oklahoma took three torpedoes soon after the attack began. She listed dangerously, and it was soon apparent that she would capsize. The order was given to abandon ship, but Seaman First Class Ward remained in a turret holding a flashlight, thus sacrificing his own life to permit other members of the crew to escape. For his heroism at that time, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Medal of Honor Citation: "For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. When it was seen that the U.S.S. Oklahoma was going to capsize and the order was given to abandon ship, Ward remained in a turret holding a flashlight so the remainder of the turret crew could see to escape, thereby sacrificing his own life."
In 1943, the destroyer escort USS J. Richard Ward (DE-243), was named in honor of Seaman First Class Ward.
March 6, 1894 - November 13, 1942
Rank and organization: Commander, U.S. Navy
Appointed from: Wisconsin
Place of death: killed in action in Guadalcanal
Awards: Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, Awarded Posthumously
Cassin Young (March 6, 1894 November 13, 1942) was an officer of the United States Navy who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Young was born in Washington, D.C., on March 6, 1894. After graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy on June 3, 1916, he served on the battleship Connecticut (BB-18) into 1919, then spent several years in submarines. During that period, he commanded the Submarines R-23 and R-2. During the mid and late 1920s, he served in Naval Communications on the staff of Commander Submarine Divisions, Battle Fleet, and at the Naval Academy.
During 193133, Lieutenant Commander Young served on the battleship New York (BB-34). He was subsequently awarded command of the destroyer Evans (DD-78) and was assigned to the Eleventh Naval District in 193537. After promotion to the rank of Commander, he commanded Submarine Division Seven and was stationed at Naval Submarine Base New London, in Groton, Connecticut.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, he was Commanding Officer of the repair ship Vestal (AR-4), which was badly damaged by enemy bombs and the explosion of the battleship Arizona (BB-39). Commander Young rapidly organized offensive action, personally taking charge of one of Vestal's antiaircraft guns. When Arizona's forward magazine exploded, the blast blew Young overboard. Although stunned, he was determined to save his ship by getting her away from the blazing Arizona. Swimming back to Vestal, which was already damaged and about to be further damaged, Young got her underway and beached her, thus insuring her later salvage. His heroism was recognized with the Medal of Honor.
Promoted to Captain in February 1942, he later was given command of the heavy cruiser San Francisco (CA-38). In the Solomon Islands campaign, Captain Young commanded San Francisco in the Battle of Cape Esperance and the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal with great distinction. On 13 November 1942, during the latter battle, he guided his ship in action with a superior Japanese force and was killed by enemy shells while closely engaging the battleship Hiei. Captain Young was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during the campaign and San Francisco received the Presidential Unit Citation.
Medal of Honor citation: "For distinguished conduct in action, outstanding heroism and utter disregard of his own safety, above and beyond the call of duty, as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Vestal, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, by enemy Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Commander Young proceeded to the bridge and later took personal command of the 3-inch antiaircraft gun. When blown overboard by the blast of the forward magazine explosion of the U.S.S. Arizona, to which the U.S.S. Vestal was moored, he swam back to his ship. The entire forward part of the U.S.S. Arizona was a blazing inferno with oil afire on the water between the two ships; as a result of several bomb hits, the U.S.S. Vestal was afire in several places, was settling and taking on a list. Despite severe enemy bombing and strafing at the time, and his shocking experience of having been blown overboard, Commander Young, with extreme coolness and calmness, moved his ship to an anchorage distant from the U.S.S. Arizona, and subsequently beached the U.S.S. Vestal upon determining that such action was required to save his ship."
In 1943, the destroyer USS Cassin Young (DD-793) was named in his honor.
Source: Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships <http://history.navy.mil/danfs/c4/cassin_young.htm>
Naval Historical Center's bio of Cassin Young <http://history.navy.mil/photos/pers-us/uspers-xz/c-young.htm>
Sources: Naval Historical Center, Medal of Honor Citations, Wikipedia
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