The Canadian Holders of the United States Naval Medal of Honor

by John M. MacFarlane 2015

Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the United States Congress on members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States." Medals of Honor can only be awarded to members of the United States armed forces – although being a United States citizen is not a prerequisite. Sixty–one Canadians who were serving in the United States armed forces have been awarded the Medal of Honor, with a majority awarded for actions in the American Civil War. Since 1900, only four have been awarded to Canadians and in the Vietnam Conflict, Peter C. Lemon was the only Canadian recipient of the Medal of Honor.

Canadians Who Have Won the United States Naval Medal of Honor

Quarter Gunner Charles Asten (USN) He was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1834. His citation states: "Served on board the U.S.S. Signal, Red River, 5 May 1864. Proceeding up the Red River, the U.S.S. Signal engaged a large force of enemy field batteries and sharpshooters, returning their fire until the Federal ship was totally disabled, at which time the white flag was raised. Although on the sick list, Quarter Gunner Asten courageously carried out his duties during the entire engagement." His medal was accredited to Illinois. G.O. No.: 45, 31 December 1864.

Seaman Frank Bois (USN) He was born in 1841 in St. Jean, Lower Canada. Awarded for actions while "He served as quartermaster on board the U.S.S. Cincinnati during the attack on the Vicksburg batteries and at the time of her sinking, 27 May 1863. Engaging the enemy in a fierce battle, the Cincinnati, amidst an incessant fire of shot and shell, continued to fire her guns to the last, though so penetrated by enemy shellfire that her fate was sealed. Conspicuously cool in making signals throughout the battle, Bois, after all the Cincinnati’s staffs had been shot away, succeeded in nailing the flag to the stump of the forestaff to enable this proud ship to go down, "with her colors nailed to the mast." His medal was awarded 24 November 1916. G.O. No.: 17, 10 July 1863.

Landsman Louis G. Chaput (USN) He was born in 1845, Montreal, Quebec. Awarded for actions "On board the U.S.S. Lackawanna during successful attacks against Fort Morgan, rebel gunboats and the rebel ram Tennessee in Mobile Bay, 5 August 1864. Severely wounded, Chaput remained at his gun until relieved, reported to the surgeon and returned to his gun until the action was over. He was then carried below following the action which resulted in the capture of the prize ram Tennessee and in destruction of batteries at Fort Morgan." His medal was accredited to New York. G.O. No.: 45, 31 December 1864.

Gunner’s Mate (3rd Class) John Everetts (USN) He was appointed as a Gunner’s Mate, Third Class USN. His medal was accredited to New York G.O. No.: 489, 20 May 1898. Citation: Serving on board the U.S.S. Cushing, 11 February 1898, Everetts displayed gallant conduct in attempting to save the life of the late Ensign Joseph C. Breckinridge, U.S. Navy, who fell overboard at sea from that vessel.

Coxswain Thomas Fitzpatrick (USN) He was born in Canada in 1837. Awarded for actions while "As captain of the No. 1 gun on board the flagship U.S.S. Hartford, during action against rebel gunboats, the ram Tennessee and Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay, 5 August 1864. Although struck several times in the face by splinters, and with his gun disabled when a shell burst between the 2 forward 9-inch guns, killing and wounding 15 men, Fitzpatrick, within a few minutes, had the gun in working order again with new track, breeching and side tackle, had sent the wounded below, cleared the area of other casualties, and was fighting his gun as before. He served as an inspiration to the members of his crew and contributed to the success of the action in which the Tennessee was captured." His medal was awarded by G.O. No.: 45, 31 December 1864.

Seaman Thomas Kersey (USN) He was appointed as a Ordinary Seaman, U.S. Navy. Accredited to: Massachusetts. G.O. No.: 215, 9 August 1876. Citation: "Serving on board the U.S.S. Plymouth at the Navy Yard, New York, 26 July 1876, Kersey displayed bravery and presence of mind in rescuing from drowning one of the crew of that vessel."

Seaman George Low (USN) He was appointed as a Seaman, U.S. Navy. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 326, 18 October 1884. Citation: For jumping overboard from the U.S.S. Tennessee at New Orleans, LA, 15 February 1881, and sustaining, until picked up by a boat's crew, N. P. Petersen, gunner’s mate, who had fallen overboard.

Seaman Edward Maddin (USN) He was appointed as a Seaman, U.S. Navy. His medal was accredited to New York. G.O. No.: 326, 18 October 1884. Citation: "For jumping overboard from the U.S.S. Tennessee at New Orleans, LA, 15 February 1881, and sustaining, until picked up by a boat’s crew, N. P. Petersen, Gunner’s Mate, who had fallen overboard."

Captain of the Top James McIntosh (USN) He was born in 1834 in Canada. "On board the U.S.S. Richmond during action against rebel forts and gunboats and with the ram Tennessee in Mobile Bay, 5 August 1864. Despite damage to his ship and the loss of several men on board as enemy fire raked her decks, Mclntosh performed his duties with skill and courage throughout the prolonged battle which resulted in the surrender of the rebel ram Tennessee and in the successful attacks carried out on Fort Morgan." His medal was accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 45, 31 December 1864.

Harry Miller

Harry Herbert Miller (Photo from the Wikepedia)

Quartermaster (3rd Class) Harry Herbert Miller (USN) He was born on May 4, 1879 at Noel Shore Nova Scotia the brother of Williard Dwight Miller. He died on March 12, 1968 in Costa Rica. He was awarded the medal for awarded the Medal of Honor for exhibiting "extraordinary bravery and coolness during the 11 May 1898 telegraph cable cutting operation off Cienfuegos, Cuba." His citation reads "On board the U.S.S. Nashville during the operation of cutting the cable leading from Cienfuegos, Cuba, 11 May 1898. Facing the heavy fire of the enemy, Miller displayed extraordinary bravery and coolness throughout this action."

Willard Miller

Willard Miller (Photo from Wikepedia)

Seaman Willard Dwight Miller (USN) He was born 05 June 1877, the brother of Harry Herbert Miller. He was awarded the medal while serving in USS Nashville (Gunboat #7) during the Spanish-American War. Both he and his brother, Harry H. Miller, were awarded the Medal of Honor for exhibiting "extraordinary bravery and coolness" during the 11 May 1898 telegraph cable cutting operation off Cienfuegos, Cuba. His citation reads "On board the U.S.S. Nashville during the operation of cutting the cable leading from Cienfuegos, Cuba, 11 May 1898. Facing the heavy fire of the enemy, Miller displayed extraordinary bravery and coolness throughout this action." He served in the U.S. Light House Service after leaving the US Navy.

Seaman Philip Moore (USN) By September 21, 1880, he was serving as an Ordinary Seaman on the USS Trenton. On that day, while the Trenton was at Genoa, Italy, he and Seaman John Russell jumped overboard and rescued Ordinary Seaman Hans Paulsen from drowning. For this action, both Moore and Russell were awarded the Medal of Honor four years later, on October 18, 1884. Moore’s official Medal of Honor citation reads: For jumping overboard from the U.S.S. Trenton, at Genoa, Italy, 21 September 1880, and rescuing from drowning Hans Paulsen, Ordinary Seaman.

Signalman (1st Class) Douglas Albert Munro (USCG). Munro was born on October 11, 1919, in Vancouver, BC. The family moved to Vancouver, Washington, where his father worked as an electrician for Warren Construction Company. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1922 along with his sister and mother and grew up in South Cle Elum, Washington. His citation states: "For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action above and beyond the call of duty as Officer–in–Charge of a group of Higgins boats, engaged in the evacuation of a Battalion of Marines trapped by enemy Japanese forces at Point Cruz, Guadalcanal, on September 27, 1942. After making preliminary plans for the evacuation of nearly 500 beleaguered Marines, Munro, under constant risk of his life, daringly led five of his small craft toward the shore. As he closed the beach, he signaled the others to land, and then in order to draw the enemy's fire and protect the heavily loaded boats, he valiantly placed his craft with its two small guns as a shield between the beachhead and the Japanese. When the perilous task of evacuation was nearly completed, Munro was killed by enemy fire, but his crew, two of whom were wounded, carried on until the last boat had loaded and cleared the beach. By his outstanding leadership, expert planning, and dauntless devotion to duty, he and his courageous comrades undoubtedly saved the lives of many who otherwise would have perished. He gallantly gave up his life in defense of his country." Munro is buried at Laurel Hill Memorial Park in Cle Elum, Washington. Two ships, the Coast Guard's USCGC Munro (WHEC–724) and the Navy’s USS Douglas A. Munro (DE–422) are named for him.

Quarter Gunner John Neil (USN). His medal was accredited to Virginia. G.O. No.: 45, 31 December 1864. Citation: Neil served on board the U.S.S. Agawam, as one of a volunteer crew of a powder boat which was exploded near Fort Fisher, 23/12/1864. The powder boat, towed in by the Wilderness to prevent detection by the enemy, cast off and slowly steamed to within 300 yards of the beach. After fuses and fires had been lit and a second anchor with short scope let go to assure the boat’s tailing inshore, the crew again boarded the Wilderness and proceeded a distance of 12 miles from shore. Less than 2 hours later the explosion took place, and the following day fires were observed still burning at the forts.

Seaman Joseph B. Noil (USN). He was born in Nova Scotia in 1841. He enlisted in the Navy from New York. While serving on USS Powhatan at Norfolk, Virginia on December 26, 1872, Noil saved a drowning shipmate, Boatswain J.C. Walton. His citation states: "Serving on board the U.S.S. Powhatan at Norfolk, 26 December 1872, Noil saved Boatswain J. C. Walton from drowning." His award is accredited to New York.

Landsman William Pelham (USN). His citation states: "On board the flagship U.S.S. Hartford during successful actions against Fort Morgan, rebel gunboats and the ram CSS Tennessee (1863) in Mobile Bay, 5 August 1864. When the other members of his gun crew were killed or wounded under the enemy’s terrific shellfire, Pelham calmly assisted the casualties below and voluntarily returned and took his place at an adjoining gun where another man had been struck down. He continued to fight his gun throughout the remainder of the battle which resulted in the capture of the Tennessee."

Machinist 1st Class George Frederick Phillips (USN). He served in the Spanish American War. He earned The Medal of Honor During the Spanish-American War For heroism June 03, 1898 at Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. "After chasing the fleet of Pascual Cerveza for months, Rear Admiral Sampson located the Spanish ships on May 28, in Santiago Harbor. Approach would require American vessels to pass through a dangerous, narrow and mined channel well protected by shore batteries. Unable to attack with his own ships, Sampson chose to blockade the channel and trap the enemy fleet. On the night June 6 George Phillips was 1 of 7 volunteers who, under the leadership of Richmond Hobson, guided the old collier Merrimac beneath the enemy guns in an attempt to scuttle the 333–foot vessel in the channel. Within 500 feet of the mouth of the channel the Merrimac came under enemy fire. Despite this, and in spite of numerous direct hits on the ship, the vessel continued ahead. When the steering gear was disabled by enemy fire, momentum carried the Merrimack further towards its goal, but the charges set to destroy it were damaged. Finally the ship drifted to the shoreline, Hobson’s men leaving the destroyed ship to cling through the night to a small buoy. Admiral Cerveza personally supervised the launch that captured them the following day, greeting his enemies with one word – "VALIANTE!" "

Boatswain’s Mate Charles Robinson (USN). He was born in 1841 in Nova Scotia. He earned the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Civil War for heroism December 23-27, 1862 at Yazoo River Expedition, MS. "During the period of December 23-27, 1862, the U.S.S. Baron De Kalb proceeded under orders up the Yazoo River in Mississippi with the objective of capturing or destroying the enemy’s transports. The ship encountered the steamers John Walsh, R.J. Locklan, Golden Age and the Scotland, sunk on a bar where they were ordered to be burned. Continuing up the river, the Baron De Kalb was fired upon but, upon returning the fire, caused the enemy’s retreat. Returning down the Yazoo, she destroyed and captured large quantities of enemy equipment and several prisoners. During the various actions of this "Yazoo River Expedition", Boatswain’s Mate Charles Robinson was one of four members of the crew of the U.S.S. Baron De Kalb who received the Medal of Honor for his distinguished bravery throughout the action. Also receiving Medals of Honor were his crew mates Ordinary Seaman Peter Cotton, Captain of the Forecastle Pierre Leon, and Boatswain’s Mate John McDonald. Boatswain’s Mates William Martin, William Moore, Charles Morton, and Signal Quartermaster Robert Williams, all of the U.S.S. Benton, also earned Medals of Honor on the last day of this expedition."

Private John Shivers (USMC). He was born in 1830 in Canada. He was awarded the medal for actions while "On board the U.S.S. Minnesota, in the assault on Fort Fisher, 15 January 1865. Landing on the beach with the assaulting party from his ship, Pvt. Shivers advanced to the top of the sandhill and partly through the breach in the palisades despite enemy fire which killed or wounded many officers and men. When more than two_thirds of the men became seized with panic and retreated on the run, he remained with the party until dark when it came safely away, bringing its wounded, its arms and its colors." His medal was accredited to New Jersey. G.O. No. 59, 22 June 1865.

Seaman Robert Sweeney (USN). He was born 1853 Montreal, Canada. He was appointed as a Seaman USN. Sweeney won his first Medal of Honor in 1881 which was accredited to New Jersey. G.O. No.: 326, 18 October 1884. His second award citation reads "Serving on board the U.S.S. Kearsarge, at Hampton Roads, VA, 26 October 1881, Sweeney jumped overboard and assisted in saving from drowning a shipmate who had fallen overboard into a strongly running tide."

Carpenter’s Mate Henry Williams (USN). He was born in Canada in 1833. He was appointed as a Carpenter’s Mate, U.S. Navy. The award was accredited to Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 326, 18 October 1884 (Citation: For going over the stern of the U.S.S. Constitution, at sea, 13/02/1879, during a heavy gale, and performing important carpenter’s work upon her rudder.)

Coxswain Horatio Nelson Young (USN). He was born in Calais ME USA on 18/07/1845. Following the outbreak of the American Civil War, Horatio Young traveled to Boston, Massachusetts where he joined the United States Navy. On November 16, 1863, the 18 year–old boy was serving aboard the USS Lehigh, when his ship ran aground in the Charleston, South Carolina harbor. In rough waters, and under heavy enemy fire trying to stop him, Horatio Young made several attempts until he succeeded in passing in a small boat from his ship to the USS Nahant with a line wrapped on a hawser that would enable the Lehigh to be freed from her position. His citation states: "On board the U.S.S. Lehigh, Charleston Harbor, 16 November 1863, during the hazardous task of freeing the Lehigh, which had grounded, and was under heavy enemy fire from Fort Moultrie. After several previous attempts had been made, Young succeeded in passing in a small boat from the Lehigh to the Nahant with a line bent on a hawser. This courageous action while under severe enemy fire enabled the Lehigh to be freed from her helpless position." He died in Halifax NS Canada on 03/07/1913.


To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. (2015) Canadian Holders of the US Naval Medal of Honor. Nauticapedia.ca 2015 http://nauticapedia.ca/Articles/Canadian_Naval_Medal_of_Honor_Holders.php

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