Appendix A – Distinguished Service Medal Citations

 

Distinguished Service Medal Citations

 Law Establishing Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal………………….

Cadet-Midshipman William M. Thomas…………………………………………………………

Cadet-Midshipman Edwin Joseph O’Hara……………………………………………………..

Cadet-Midshipman Francis A. Dales………………………………………………………………

Cadet-Midshipman Frederick R. Zito……………………………………………………………..

Cadet-Midshipman Walter G. Sittman…………………………………………………………….

Cadet-Midshipman Phil Cox Vannais………………………………………………

Cadet-Midshipman Elmer C. Donnelly…………………………………………………………..

Second Mate George W. Alther, Jr…………………………………………………………………..

Cadet-Midshipman Carl M. Medved………………………………………………………………

Law  Establishing Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal

PUBLIC LAW 524 — 77th CONGRESS

CHAPTER 241 — 2d Session

H. J. Res. 263

JOINT RESOLUTION

To provide decorations for outstanding conduct or service by persons serving in the American merchant marine

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the United States Maritime Commission is hereby authorized and directed, under such rules and regulations as it may prescribe, to provide and award a medal of such material and design and with such devices and inscriptions as the Commission may deem suitable to each person who in the American merchant marine, on or after September 3, 1939, has distinguished himself or during the war distinguishes himself by outstanding conduct or service in the line of duty. Such medals shall be presented with appropriate ceremony as specified by the Commission.

SEC. 2. There may be issued with each medal a rosette or other device to be worn in lieu of the medal. Not more than one medal shall be issued hereunder to any person, but for each succeeding instance sufficient to justify the award of a medal to such person the Commission may award a suitable bar or other emblem or insignia to be worn with the medal and the corresponding rosette or other device. In case any person who so distinguishes himself as to justify the award of a medal or decoration hereunder dies before the award can be made to him, the award may be made and the medal or decoration presented to such representative of the deceased as the Commission deems proper. Approved April 11, 1942


Cadet-Midshipman William M. Thomas

Thomas’ award was presented on March 15, 1943, on the fifth anniversary of the founding of the Cadet Corps.  Thomas received his citation from Deputy Administrator Captain Edward Macaulay at the War Shipping Administration Headquarters in Washington, D.C.Anniversary ceremonies were also held at the Academy, both basic schools, and on board the Emery Rice, then berthed at Pier 1, North River, as a receiving ship for men returning from sea training.

The President of the United States takes Pleasure in Presenting the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal to

 William M. Thomas, Jr.

Engine Cadet-Midshipman on S.S. Edgar Allen Poe, 11/8/42

For extraordinary heroism above and beyond the line of duty.

The ship upon which he was serving was loaded in all holds with highly explosive war material when attacked by torpedo and shell fire from enemy submarine.  The torpedo struck amidship, demolishing the engine and rupturing all steam and fuel pipes.  The engineer and fireman on watch met immediate death. An oiler, blown to the top of the cylinder heads, lay helpless as a result of multiple wounds.  Hearing his cries, Thomas descended into the darkness of the steam-filled wreckage and carried the injured man to the deck.  By this time all undamaged lifeboats were away. Launching a small balsa liferaft, he succeeded in getting the wounded man over the side and lashed him securely to the raft.   Thomas then swam alongside the raft for about twenty hours until they were picked up by a rescue ship.

His magnificent courage and disregard of his own safety in saving the life of a shipmate constitute a degree of heroism which will be an enduring inspiration to seamen of the United States Merchant Marine everywhere.

For the President

Admiral Emory Scott Land

Cadet-Midshipman Edwin Joseph O’Hara

O’Hara’s award was also presented on March 15, 1943, on the fifth anniversary of the founding of the Cadet Corps. O’Hara’s medal was presented to his mother, Mrs. Elma O’Hara, at Lindsay, CA by Cadet Corps Pacific District Supervisor Arthur O. Brady. Anniversary ceremonies were also held at the Academy, both basic schools, and on board the Emery Rice, then berthed at Pier 1, North River, as a receiving ship for men returning from sea training.

The President of the United States takes Pleasure in Presenting the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal to

Edwin Joseph O’Hara

Engine Cadet-Midshipman on S.S. Stephen Hopkins, 9/27/42

 For extraordinary heroism under unusual hazards.

Two enemy surface raiders suddenly appeared out of the morning mist to attack the small merchantman upon which he was serving.  Heavy guns of one raider pounded his ship, and machine guns from the other, sprayed her decks for one-half hour at close quarters.  The heroic gun crew of O’Hara’s ship exchanged shot for shot with the enemy, placing thirty-five shells into the waterline of one of the raiders until its crew was forced to abandon their sinking ship.  The gun commander was mortally wounded early in the action, and all of the gun crew were killed or wounded when an enemy shell exploded the magazine of their gun.

At the explosion, O’Hara ran aft and single-handedly served and fired the damaged gun with five live shells remaining in the ready box, scoring direct hits near the waterline of the second raider.  O’Hara was mortally wounded in this action. With boilers blown up, engines destroyed, masts shot away, and ablaze from stem to stern, the gallant merchantman finally went under carrying O’Hara and several of his fighting shipmates with her.

The magnificent courage of this young cadet constitutes a degree of heroism which will be an enduring inspiration to seamen of the United States Merchant Marine everywhere.

For the President

Admiral Emory Scott Land

Cadet-Midshipman Francis A. Dales

Dales’ award was presented on May 22, 1943, National Maritime Day, in the first ceremonies held in the newly constructed O’Hara Hall. Dales received the Award from Deputy Administrator Captain Edward Macauley, USN (ret.), in front of the Regiment of Cadets.

The President of the United States takes Pleasure in Presenting the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal to

 

Francis A. Dales

Deck Cadet-Midshipman on S.S. Santa Elisa/S.S. Ohio, 8/11-8/15/42

For heroism above and beyond the call of duty.

His ship was a freighter carrying drums of high-octane gasoline, one of two American ships, in a small British convoy to Malta.  Orders were to “get through at all costs.” Heavily escorted, the convoy moved into the Mediterranean, and before noon of that day the enemy’s attack began.  From then on the entire convoy was under constant attack from Axis planes and submarines.  Assigned the command of an anti-aircraft gun mounted on the bridge, Dales contributed to the successful defense of his ship for three days.

At 4:00 on the morning of the fourth day, torpedo boats succeeded in breaking through and two attacked from opposite sides.  Sneaking in close under cover of darkness one opened point-blank fire on Dales’s position with four .50 caliber machine guns, sweeping the bridge and killing three of his gun crew in the first bursts.  The other sent its deadly torpedo into the opposite side of the freighter. Neither the heavy fire from the first torpedo boat nor the torpedo from the second drove Dales and his crew from their gun.  With only flashes to fire at in the darkness, he found the target and the first boat burst into flames and sank.  But the torpedo launched by the other had done its deadly work.  The high-test gasoline cargo ignited and the American ship was engulfed in flames.  Reluctantly, orders were given to abandon her.

Two hours later, the survivors were picked up by a British destroyer, which then proceeded to take in tow a tanker that had been bombed and could not maneuver.  After five hours of constant dive-bombing, the tanker was hit again—her crew abandoned her—and the destroyer was forced to cut her loose.  But the cargo she carried was most important to the defense of Malta, and it had to get through.  The rescue destroyer and another destroyer steamed in—lashed themselves to either side of the stricken tanker—and dragged her along in a determined attempt to get to port.

Dales and four others volunteered to go aboard the tanker and man her guns in order to bring more fire power to their defense.  The shackled ships, inching along and making a perfect target, were assailed by concentrated enemy airpower.  All that day wave after wave of German and Italian bombers dived at them and were beaten off by a heavy barrage.  Bombs straddled them, scoring near misses, but no direct hits were made until noon the next day, when the tanker finally received a bomb down her stack which blew out the bottom of her engine room. Though she continued to settle until her decks were awash, they fought her through until dusk that day brought them under the protection of the hard fighting air force out of Malta.

The magnificent courage of this young cadet constitutes a degree of heroism which will be an enduring inspiration to seamen of the United States Merchant Marine everywhere.

For the President

Admiral Emory Scott Land

Cadet-Midshipman Frederick R. Zito

Zito’s medal was presented on 30 September, 1943, as part of the Academy’s dedication ceremonies. Zito received the medal from Capt Edward Macauley, USN (ret.), Deputy Administrator of the War Shipping Administration and Commander, U.S. Maritime Commission.

The President of the United States takes Pleasure in Presenting the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal to

Frederick R. Zito

Engine Cadet-Midshipman on S.S. Fitz John Porter, 3/1/43

 For heroism beyond the line of duty.

The ship in which he served was torpedoed at night.  The crew abandoned the fast-sinking ship in an orderly fashion except for one man.  This man, a fireman weighing 250 pounds, lost his hold in descending the Jacobs ladder. In his struggles to catch himself, he became so fouled in the boat falls that he was hanging head down and helpless.  Zito left his position in the lifeboat; climbed hand over hand up the falls, and attempted to extricate the now thoroughly panic-stricken man.  Thwarted in his efforts to free the fireman, the young cadet cut the falls above them with his clasp knife and both men fell into the sea.   Zito worked desperately to remove the ropes from the still struggling fireman.  Failing in this, he, now at the point of exhaustion, took the entangled man in tow until both were picked up by a lifeboat.

Zito’s heroism in thus saving the life of one of his shipmates at great risk to his own is in keeping with the finest traditions of the United States Merchant Marine.

For the President

Admiral Emory Scott Land

Cadet-Midshipman Walter G. Sittman

Sittman received the Distinguished Service Medal from Superintendent Stedman during formal exercises held in Formation Square on 27 November, 1943.  Several hours later, Sittman (now an Ensign in the U.S Naval Reserve) was married to Miss Mary John McKenna in St. Thomas’ Church Woodhaven.

The President of the United States takes Pleasure in Presenting the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal to

 Walter G. Sittman

Engine Cadet-Midshipman on S.S. William T. Coleman, 7/20/43

For exceptionally meritorious conduct and intrepidity in action.

During the evening and throughout the night of March 19, 1943, while Cadet-Midshipman Walter G. Sittman’s vessel was moored in company with several other vessels in port on the north coast ofAfrica, a concentrated air attack was made on the assembled vessels by strong formations of enemy aircraft.  As the bombing, torpedo and strafing action commenced, two ships moored to the same buoy, and one of which was fast aft to Cadet-Midshipman Sittman’s vessel was loaded with ammunition, bombs, and high octane gasoline.

The stricken vessel which was hit by several bombs forward and aft was ablaze within a matter of seconds, her cargo of ammunition and bombs exploding and flying in all directions.  Immediately preparations were underway to slip moorings in order to stand clear of the burning vessel.  Engineers were ready below and up forward preparations were made to unmoor.  Cadet-Midshipman Sittman and the radio operator volunteered to cut the moorings aft. The stern of the vessel was but six feet from the stern of the blazing ship and the extreme heat plus bursting shells and bombs made this mission extremely hazardous. Within a few minutes the volunteers had accomplished their mission and their ship was able to proceed a safe distance from the burning vessels which soon disintegrated with a terrific explosion.

The magnificent courage and complete disregard for his own personal safety shown by Cadet-Midshipman Sittman in his effort to save his ship, cargo and the lives of his shipmates constitutes a degree of heroism which will be an enduring inspiration to seamen of the United States Merchant Marine everywhere.

For the President

Admiral Emory Scott Land

Cadet-Midshipman Phil Cox Vannais

Vannais was presented with the Distinguished Service Medal on 15 January 1944 at Kings Point by Deputy Administrator for Training Captain Edward Macauley.

The President of the United States takes Pleasure in Presenting the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal to

Phil Cox Vannais

Engine Cadet-Midshipman on S.S. Daniel Huger, 5/9/43

For heroism beyond the call of duty.

His ship was subjected to a two-hour high level bombing attack by seventeen enemy planes.  As a result of a near miss, bomb fragments pierced the hull and the cargo of high octane gasoline exploded. Despite heroic efforts to combat the flames two to three hundred feet high, the fire was soon out of control and the ship was abandoned.  Upon the arrival of the shore fire brigade it was decided to try to save the ship with foamite. It was necessary to have a few men returned to the ship, enter the adjacent hold, and play a hose on the heated bulkhead to prevent the raging fire from spreading.

Cadet-Midshipman Vannais was one of four who volunteered to risk his life in an attempt to save part of the cargo, which was so necessary to the continuance of war operations.  That the fire was eventually brought under control and most of the cargo saved, was due in no small measure to his outstanding bravery.

His willingness to risk his life to save his ship, and his heroic conduct during the fire are in keeping with the finest traditions of the sea.

For the President

Admiral Emory Scott Land

Cadet-Midshipman Elmer C. Donnelly

Donnelly’s award was presented at Kings Point on 19 August 1944 by Superintendent Giles Stedman. 

The President of the United States takes Pleasure in Presenting the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal to

 Elmer C. Donnelly

Deck Cadet-Midshipman on S.S. Daniel Huger, 5/9/43

For heroism beyond the call of duty.

His ship was subjected to a two-hour high level bombing attack by seventeen enemy planes.  As a result of a near miss, bomb fragments pierced the hull and the cargo of high octane gasoline exploded. Despite heroic efforts to combat the flames two to three hundred feet high, the fire was soon out of control and the ship was abandoned.  Upon the arrival of the shore fire brigade it was decided to try to save the ship with foamite.

It was necessary to have a few men return to the ship, enter the adjacent hold, and play a hose on the heated bulkhead to prevent the raging fire from spreading. Cadet-Midshipman Donnelly was one of the five who volunteered to risk his life in an attempt to save part of the cargo, which was so necessary to the continuance of war operations.  That the fire was eventually brought under control and most of the cargo saved, was due in no small measure to his outstanding bravery.

His willingness to risk his life to save his ship, and his heroic conduct during the fire are in keeping with the finest traditions of the sea.

For the President

Admiral Emory Scott Land

Second Mate George W. Alther, Jr.

 The President of the United States takes Pleasure in Presenting the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal to

 George W. Alther, Jr.

Second Mate on S.S. Timothy Pickering 10/14/43

For heroism above and beyond the call of duty.

The vessel in which he was serving in 1941 was bombed by enemy planes and again a ship in which he served in 1942 was bombed and sunk. During an enemy air attack on a Sicilian port his third wartime vessel, loaded with ammunition, TNT, aviation gasoline, and British troops, was hit by a 500-pound bomb.  The ship was split in two—ammunition exploded in the holds—and the water around the ship was a surface of burning gasoline.  The Gunnery Officer was wounded on the lower deck amidship which was enveloped by flames, but with utter disregard for his own safety, Second Officer Alther went to his assistance and in so doing gave his life.

In unhesitatingly risking, and subsequently giving, his life in an heroic attempt to rescue a wounded fellow officer he maintained and enhanced the finest traditions of the United States Merchant Marine.

For the President

Admiral Emory Scott Land

Cadet-Midshipman Carl M. Medved

Medved’s award was presented posthumously to surviving members of Medved’s family on August 29, 2003 by Maritime Administrator Captain William G. Schubert. Medved was one of three cadets on the Daniel Huger who qualified for the Distinguished Service Medal; because of a delay in his return to the U.S. after the war, his authorization for the medal, which had been set in motion by Superintendent Giles Stedman, was never processed. Almost sixty years later, his authorization papers were discovered in the Academy archives by Eliot Lumbard, who enlisted the help of Superintendent Stewart and Maritime Administrator Schubert to process the long delayed award. Medved was overjoyed to learn that his heroic actions would at last be recognized; sadly, however, he died only weeks before the presentation of the medal in August 2003.

It is my privilege to present the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal authorized by the Secretary of Transportation, posthumously to

Carl M. Medved

Cadet-Midshipman (Engine) on S.S. Daniel Huger 5/9/43

 For heroism beyond the call of duty.

His ship was subjected to a two-hour high level bombing attack by seventeen enemy planes. As a result of a near miss, bomb fragments pierced the hull and the cargo of high octane gasoline exploded. Despite heroic efforts to combat the flames two to three hundred feet high, the fire was soon out of control and the ship was abandoned. Upon arrival of the shore fire brigade, it was decided to try to save the ship with foamite. It was necessary to have a few men return to the ship, enter the adjacent hold, and play a hose on the heated bulkhead to prevent the raging fire from spreading. Cadet-Midshipman Medved volunteered to risk his life in an attempt to save part of the cargo, which was so necessary to the continuance of war operations. That the fire was eventually brought under control and most of the cargo saved was due in no small measure to his outstanding bravery.

His willingness to risk his life to save his ship and his heroic conduct during the fire are in keeping with the finest traditions of the sea.

Captain William G. Schubert, Maritime Administrator

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