Two days ago, I gave the story of the greatest Naval Aviator of World War II: David McCampbell. Today, we get the story of the greatest submarine officer and commander of the war, who was credited with sinking 31 Japanese vessels as the commanding officer of the USS Tang (SS-306). Richard Hetherington O’Kane was born in Dover, New Hampshire on February 2, 1911. He graduated with the United States Naval Academy class of 1934 and commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy and later volunteered for submarine duty in 1938.
With my Medal of Honor posts, I like to learn and pass along “back story” of the great men who have been decorated with our nation’s highest honor. For today’s 70th anniversary tribute to David McCampbell, the greatest United States Navy “ace” of World War II with 34 aerial victories against enemy Japanese aircraft – including five in one day and nine on another, the acts for which he received the Medal – nothing is really required besides the records of his heroism.
Robert Evan Brown, Jr. was born on September 2, 1907 in Dublin, Georgia. He was known by the nickname “Bobbie”, and that was the name he used when he enlisted in the United States Army in 1922, lying about his age.
The Army was Brown’s home, and he was a senior non-commissioned officer in the 2nd Armored Division in the early days of World War II and the North African Campaign. In 1943, he received a battlefield commission as a Second Lieutenant and transferred to the 1st Infantry Division.
Robert E. Roeder was born on July 25, 1917 in Summit Station, Pennsylvania. He lived his entire childhood there, graduating from Schuylkill Haven High School in 1935, prior to his enlistment in the United States Army in 1936. Roeder was stationed in Hawaii and was present when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Everett Parker Pope was born on July 16, 1919 in Milton, Massachusetts. He moved with his family to North Quincy and was a member of the North Quincy High School’s class of 1936. He then attended Bowdoin College in Maine. After graduating with honors in 1941, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.
Arthur Murray Preston was born in Washington, District of Columbia on November 1, 1913. He was a graduate of both Yale University and the University of Virginia, and was an attorney in Washington, DC when he volunteered to enlist in the United States Navy in September of 1940.
Preston was sent to the Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School at Northwestern University and was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Naval Reserve during March of 1941. He became an officer in motor torpedo (PT) boats and was present at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941.
In addition to Staff Sergeant George D. Keathley, there were three other Medals of Honor awarded for heroism in Europe on September 14, 1944. The American heroes who earned them were First Lieutenant Edgar H. Lloyd, Sergeant Joseph J. Sadowski, and Second Lieutenant Thomas W. Wigle.
Almond Edward Fisher was born on January 28, 1913 in Hume, New York. During World War II, he was an infantry officer with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division. The motto of the 45th was “Semper Anticus”, Latin for “Always Forward”.
On September 12-13, 1944, Second Lieutenant Fisher embodied that motto with acts of incredible courage while fighting in southern France.
Blogger’s note: this post should properly have appeared on September 3, 2014 or before. Due to the long span of the citation of this Medal of Honor recipient, I missed it in the regular sequence of the World War II 70th anniversaries. I am sincerely sorry for this oversight of one week.
Matt Louis Urban was born with the surname Urbanowicz in Buffalo, New York on August 25, 1919. He graduated from Cornell University in 1941, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army upon graduation, having been an ROTC member. As an officer with the 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division throughout World War II in Europe, he became one of the most decorated soldiers in United States’ history.
John Joseph Tominac was born in Conemaugh, Pennsylvania on April 29, 1922. He voluntarily enlisted in the United States Army, specifically the United States Army Air Corps, on November 22, 1941. At some point, he was transferred to the Infantry branch and also earned an officer’s commission.