Herbert Emery Schonland

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Herbert Emery Schonland
A light blue neck ribbon with a gold star shaped medallion hanging from it. The ribbon is similar in shape to a bowtie with 13 white stars in the center of the ribbon.
Circa 1936
Lieutenant Junior Grade Herbert E. Schonland, USN
Born (1900-09-07)September 7, 1900
Portland, Maine
Died November 13, 1984(1984-11-13) (aged 84)
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1925 - 1947
Rank Rear Admiral
Unit USS San Francisco (CA-38)
Battles/wars

World War II

Awards Medal of Honor

Herbert Emery Schonland (September 7, 1900 – November 13, 1984) was a United States Navy Rear Admiral and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in World War II.

Biography[edit]

He was born in Portland, Maine September 7, 1900 and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland in 1925. joined the Navy from his birth state of Maine. By November 12, 1942 was serving as a lieutenant commander on the USS San Francisco (CA-38). On that day, the San Francisco was heavily damaged during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal[1] and began taking on water. Schonland, as the damage control officer, worked through the night to stop the flooding and save the ship.

His actions during this encounter demonstrated his acumen. The ship had taken 85 hits in excess of five inches just above the water line and was leaking badly. At a key point during the effort to keep it from sinking, Schonland realized that the pumps for the second deck were inadequate to remove the water, but that the vessel had much higher capacity bilge pumps. So he called down to the engine room to arrange for all the bilge pumps to be pumping at full capacity, and the crew there ready for an immense amount of water. He then opened the hatches to the lower decks. This served the additional purpose of lowering the center of gravity of the ship, thus increasing its stability during the effort to save it. (John Carlton-Foss reporting a personal communication with Andrew Sims, Schonland's son in law)

He reached the rank of rear admiral before leaving the Navy. He died November 13, 1984 at age 84 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington County, Virginia.[2] His grave can be found in section 7-A, grave 168, not far from the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Honor and awards[edit]

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Schonland's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

For extreme heroism and courage above and beyond the call of duty as damage control officer of the U.S.S. San Francisco in action against greatly superior enemy forces in the battle off Savo Island, 12–13 November 1942. In the same violent night engagement in which all of his superior officers were killed or wounded, Lt. Comdr. Schonland was fighting valiantly to free the San Francisco of large quantities of water flooding the second deck compartments through numerous shell holes caused by enemy fire. Upon being informed that he was commanding officer, he ascertained that the conning of the ship was being efficiently handled, then directed the officer who had taken over that task to continue while he himself resumed the vitally important work of maintaining the stability of the ship. In water waist deep, he carried on his efforts in darkness illuminated only by hand lanterns until water in flooded compartments had been drained or pumped off and watertight integrity had again been restored to the San Francisco. His great personal valor and gallant devotion to duty at great peril to his own life were instrumental in bringing his ship back to port under her own power, saved to fight again in the service of her country.[3]

Other honors[edit]

The U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer School's Damage Control School in Newport, Rhode Island was named Schonland Hall in his honor. It is unusual for buildings to be named for someone who is still alive and in this case the event occurred near the end of his lifetime, yet he was alert enough to understand and participate in the process. There was no previous person who had ever been awarded the Medal of Honor for damage control. (John Carlton-Foss reporting a personal communication with Andrew Sims, Schonland's son in law)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Video: America Reports On Aid To Allies Etc. (1942). Universal Newsreel. 1942. Retrieved February 21, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Herbert Emery Schonland". Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients. Find a Grave. Retrieved November 6, 2007. 
  3. ^ "Medal of Honor recipients - World War II (M-S)". Medal of Honor citations. United States Army Center of Military History. June 8, 2009. Retrieved November 6, 2007.