16 April 2019


By Andy Weddington
Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Fear is not a lasting teacher of duty. Marcus Tullius Cicero

Saturday morning past was published commentary recapping the evening's prior U. S. Navy submarine service Birthday Ball - 119th anniversary - downtown Omaha, Nebraska.  

And since, some Sailors, eight to be precise, listed in the program have haunted.

To them momentarily. 

Danger finds heroism. 

Is it first character, augmented with a perfect mix of training, education, sense of purpose and duty, and more that causes one to resist flight, pause, then charge forward - afoot, aloft, under sail - into danger?

Is it no more than a matter of being faced with no other option than to do what has to be done, and setting aside fear? 

Is it courage - physical and moral - raw and plain and simple? 

Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning I spent hours reading about the eight Sailors listed in the Ball program and noted in Saturday commentary.

Digestion not complete. 

Each set aside fear. 

Is it my fault, embarrassingly so - professional shortcoming - none of the names were familiar to me?

Surely, at least in part.

But that deficiency is now corrected. And with intent to ensure others, military professionals or not, are not so deprived.

Each of the eight Sailors was awarded the Medal of Honor; one after World War I (not for combat service), and seven for heroism during World War II.

The aggregate hardware for heroism awarded to the eight Sailors ...

Medal of Honor (8)
Distinguished Service Cross (2)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal (1)
Navy Cross (16)
Legion of Merit (4)
Silver Star (4)
Bronze Star (1)
Purple Heart (3)
Navy Commendation Medal w/ V (3)

Eight American Sailors. Forty-two medals for staring down fear. And nearly all occurring during a span of a couple years. 

To attempt summary of what these submarine Sailors - men who saved the world - did would be to disparage their service.

Therefore, links provided. Take time.

TM2(SS) Henry Breault https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Breault 

Captain John Cromwell 

Commander Samuel Dealey

Commander Eugene Fluckey

Lieutenant Commander Howard Gilmore

Commander Richard O'Kane

Vice Admiral Lawson Ramage

Commander George Street

A peculiar thing about those decorated for heroism - within their character, and without fail, they turn the spotlight on those who did not survive as the heroes. 

Some of the eight did not survive their final selfless deed. 

I knew of Marines awarded hardware for heroism - Butler and Daly and Basilone and Paige come to mind. And Soldiers York and Murphy and Hackworth. Too, Sailors Halsey and Nimitz and McCain. 

Now I know of Cromwell and Gilmore and Ramage. 

Though I pause to wonder about the many others, who quietly did their duty and were decorated or not, I'll never know.  

Make time to read about these ordinary Sailors who did extraordinary acts of bravery. 

And pass along. 

For them, et al., we are today.  

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