07 December 2008

Medal of Honor: 7 Dec 1941

MERVYN SHARP BENNION

Captain, US Navy; commanding USS West Virginia (BB 48)

Born: 5 May 1887, Vernon, Utah
Died: 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii

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. As Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. West Virginia, after being mortally wounded, Capt. Bennion evidenced apparent concern only in fighting and saving his ship, and strongly protested against being carried from the bridge.

Note: USS Bennion (DD 662) was named in his honour.

*******

JOHN WILLIAM FINN

Lieutenant (then Chief Aviation Ordnanceman), US Navy; NAS Kaneohe Bay (Territory of Hawaii)

Born: 23 July 1909, Los Angeles, California
Died: 27 May 2010, Chula Vista, California

Citation: For extraordinary heroism distinguished service, and devotion above and beyond the call of duty. During the first attack by Japanese airplanes on the Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, on 7 December 1941, Lt. Finn promptly secured and manned a .50-caliber machinegun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machinegun strafing fire. Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to man this gun and to return the enemy's fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety. It was only by specific orders that he was persuaded to leave his post to seek medical attention. Following first aid treatment, although obviously suffering much pain and moving with great difficulty, he returned to the squadron area and actively supervised the rearming of returning planes. His extraordinary heroism and conduct in this action were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

*******

FRANCIS C FLAHERTY

Ensign, US Naval Reserve; USS Oklahoma (BB 37)

Born: 15 March 1919, Charlotte, Michigan
Died: 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii

Citation: For conspicuous devotion to duty and 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. When it was seen that the U.S.S. Oklahoma was going to capsize and the order was given to abandon ship, Ens. Flaherty remained in a turret, holding a flashlight so the remainder of the turret crew could see to escape, thereby sacrificing his own life.

Note: USS Flaherty (DE 135) was named in his honour.

*******

SAMUEL GLENN FUQUA

Lieutenant Commander, US Navy; USS Arizona (BB 39)

Born: 15 October 1899, Laddonia, Missouri
Died: 27 January 1987, Decatur, Georgia

Citation: For distinguished conduct in action, outstanding heroism, and utter disregard of his own safety above and beyond the call of duty during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Upon the commencement of the attack, Lt. Comdr. Fuqua rushed to the quarterdeck of the U.S.S. Arizona to which he was attached where he was stunned and knocked down by the explosion of a large bomb which hit the guarterdeck, penetrated several decks, and started a severe fire. Upon regaining consciousness, he began to direct the fighting of the fire and the rescue of wounded and injured personnel. Almost immediately there was a tremendous explosion forward, which made the ship appear to rise out of the water, shudder, and settle down by the bow rapidly. The whole forward part of the ship was enveloped in flames which were spreading rapidly, and wounded and burned men were pouring out of the ship to the quarterdeck. Despite these conditions, his harrowing experience, and severe enemy bombing and strafing, at the time, Lt. Comdr. Fuqua continued to direct the fighting of fires in order to check them while the wounded and burned could be taken from the ship and supervised the rescue of these men in such an amazingly calm and cool manner and with such excellent judgment that it inspired everyone who saw him and undoubtedly resulted in the saving of many lives. After realizing the ship could not be saved and that he was the senior surviving officer aboard, he directed it to be abandoned, but continued to remain on the quarterdeck and directed abandoning ship and rescue of personnel until satisfied that all personnel that could be had been saved, after which he left his ship with the final boatload. The conduct of Lt. Comdr. Fuqua was not only in keeping with the highest traditions of the naval service but characterizes him as an outstanding leader of men.

*******

EDWIN JOSEPH HILL

Chief Boatswain, US Navy; USS Nevada (BB 36)

Born: 4 October 1894, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died: 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii

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. During the height of the strafing and bombing, Chief Boatswain Hill led his men of the linehandling details of the U.S.S. Nevada to the quays, cast off the lines and swam back to his ship. Later, while on the forecastle, attempting to let go the anchors, he was blown overboard and killed by the explosion of several bombs.

Note: USS Hill (DE 141) was named in his honour.

*******

HERBERT CHARPOIT JONES

Ensign, US Naval Reserve; USS California (BB 44)

Born: 1 December 1918, Los Angeles, California
Died: 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii

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. Ens. Jones organized and led a party, which was supplying ammunition to the antiaircraft battery of the U.S.S. California after the mechanical hoists were put out of action when he was fatally wounded by a bomb explosion. When 2 men attempted to take him from the area which was on fire, he refused to let them do so, saying in words to the effect, "Leave me alone! I am done for. Get out of here before the magazines go off."

Note: USS Herbert C Jones (DE 137) was named in his honour.

*******

ISAAC CAMPBELL KIDD

Rear Admiral, US Navy; commanding Battleship Division One

Born: 26 March 1884, Cleveland, Ohio
Died: 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii

Citation: For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Rear Adm. Kidd immediately went to the bridge and, as Commander Battleship Division One, courageously discharged his duties as Senior Officer Present Afloat until the U.S.S. Arizona, his Flagship, blew up from magazine explosions and a direct bomb hit on the bridge which resulted in the loss of his life.

Note: USS Kidd (DD 661), USS Kidd (DDG 993) and USS Kidd (DDG 100) were named in his honour.

*******

JACKSON CHARLES PHARRIS

Lieutenant, US Navy; USS California (BB 44)

Born: 26 June 1912, Columbus, Georgia
Died: 17 October 1966, Los Angeles, California

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while attached to the U.S.S. California during the surprise enemy Japanese aerial attack on Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941. In charge of the ordnance repair party on the third deck when the first Japanese torpedo struck almost directly under his station, Lt. (then Gunner) Pharris was stunned and severely injured by the concussion which hurled him to the overhead and back to the deck. Quickly recovering, he acted on his own initiative to set up a hand-supply ammunition train for the antiaircraft guns. With water and oil rushing in where the port bulkhead had been torn up from the deck, with many of the remaining crewmembers overcome by oil fumes, and the ship without power and listing heavily to port as a result of a second torpedo hit, Lt. Pharris ordered the shipfitters to counterflood. Twice rendered unconscious by the nauseous fumes and handicapped by his painful injuries, he persisted in his desperate efforts to speed up the supply of ammunition and at the same time repeatedly risked his life to enter flooding compartments and drag to safety unconscious shipmates who were gradually being submerged in oil. By his inspiring leadership, his valiant efforts and his extreme loyalty to his ship and her crew, he saved many of his shipmates from death and was largely responsible for keeping the California in action during the attack. His heroic conduct throughout this first eventful engagement of World War II reflects the highest credit upon Lt. Pharris and enhances the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Note: USS Pharris (DE 1094) was named in his honour.

*******

THOMAS JAMES REEVES

Radio Electrician (Warrant Officer), US Navy; USS California (BB 44)

Born: 9 December 1895, Thomaston, Connecticut
Died: 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii

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.

Note: USS Reeves (DE 156) was named in his honour.

*******

DONALD KIRBY ROSS

Machinist, US Navy; USS Nevada (BB 36)

Born: 8 December 1910, Beverly, Kansas
Death: 17 May 1992, Bremerton, Washington

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.

Note: USS Ross (DDG 71) was named in his honour.

*******

ROBERT R SCOTT

Machinist's Mate First Class, US Navy; USS California (BB 44)

Born: 13 July 1915, Massillon, Ohio
Died: 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii

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."

Note: USS Scott (DE 214) was named in his honour.

*******

PETER TOMICH

Chief Watertender, US Navy; USS Utah (AG 16)

Born: 3 June 1893, Prolog, Austria
Died: 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii

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.

Note: USS Tomich (DE 242) was named in his honour.

*******

FRANKLIN VAN VALKENBURGH

Captain, US Navy; commanding USS Arizona (BB 39)

Born: 5 April 1888, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Died: 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii

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, Capt. 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.

Note: USS Van Valkenburgh (DD 656) was named in his honour.

*******

JAMES RICHARD WARD

Seaman First Class, US Navy; USS Oklahoma (BB 37)

Born: 10 September 1921, Springfield, Ohio
Died: 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii

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.

Note: USS J Richard Ward (DE 243) was named in his honour.

*******

CASSIN YOUNG

Commander, US Navy; commanding USS Vestal (AR 4)

Born: 6 March 1894, Washington, DC
Died: 13 November 1942, off Guadalcanal

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. Comdr. 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 2 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, Comdr. 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.

Note: USS Cassin Young (DD 793) was named in his honour.

Update 1314 2 Jun 2010: Added date of Lieutenant Finn's death.


No, I'm not discriminating or being chauvinistic by only listing Navy personnel. No member of the US Army, Army Air Corps, Marine Corps or Coast Guard was awarded the Medal of Honor in connexion with the Japanese attacks on Hawai`i.

3 comments:

TetVet68 said...

I view your blog from time to time, particularly your postings of Medal of Honor recipients.

You may choose to visit my photo album tribute to:

America's oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, living his 100th year, former enlisted Chief Petty Officer, Aviation Chief Ordnanceman (ACOM), later wartime commissioned Lieutenant John W. Finn, USN (Ret.). He is also the last surviving Medal of Honor, "The Day of Infamy", Japanese Attack on the Hawaiian Islands, Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941.

http://news.webshots.com/album/141695570BONFYl

I note that you are RM1(SS), USN (Ret.).

You may also choose to view my photo album tribute to my 103 year old father, who was World War One Radio Operator Striker (1919) later graduate of Navy Radio School, 1920-1921. See 'Navy Centenarian Sailor', 103 year old, former enlisted Aviation Chief Radioman (ACRM, Combat Aircrewman), later wartime commissioned Chief Warrant Officer Julio 'Jay' Ereneta, U. S. Navy (Ret.), thirty year career veteran of World War One and World War Two. First flew aircrewman in August 1922. Flew rearseat radioman/gunner in air squadrons of the Navy's first aircraft carriers, USS LANGLEY (CV-1) and USS LEXINGTON (CV-2). At the time of his recent demise, he was the Navy's oldest living radio operator, minesweeper sailor, battleship sailor, aircrewman, and Aviation Officer.

Enlisted Aviation Ratings Finn (Ordnance) and Ereneta (Radio) served in the Asiatic Fleet on China Station/Yangtze Patrol in the 1920s/1930s.


http://news.webshots.com/album/123286873BFAAiq

San Diego, California

a. fortis said...

It was interesting to read the stories of the Pearl Harbor honorees. My grandfather was a Pearl Harbor survivor on the USS West Virginia, where he served as a Gunner's Mate 1st Class. His description of being below decks when the ship was hit, and then scrambling to help people get out when it started listing, and then swimming to the Tennessee for safety, were really vivid.

This is a very nice tribute.

John McAllister said...

Great post. I am the Nephew of John W. Finn. We are looking forward to the Christening of the USS John Finn on May 2nd 2015 at the Ingalls Ship yards in Pascagoula MS.

There is one correction you need to make. Capt. Ross passed away on May 27th 1992. 18 years to the day to John Finn's Passing.

Best regards and thank you for keeping there memories alive.