William Halford

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For other people named William Halford, see William Halford (disambiguation).
William Halford
William Halford.jpg
Coxswain William Halford, circa 1870
Born (1841-08-18)August 18, 1841
Died February 7, 1919(1919-02-07) (aged 77)
Oakland, California
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1869 – 1910
1917 – 1919
Rank Lieutenant
Unit USS Saginaw
Awards Medal of Honor

William Halford (August 18, 1841 – February 7, 1919) was a sailor, and later an officer, in the United States Navy. He also received the Medal of Honor.


Born in England, Halford enlisted in the United States Navy in 1869. He was serving on board USS Saginaw, when she ran aground near Midway Atoll on October 29, 1870. Halford was one of four sailors who volunteered to sail the ship's boat 1,500 miles to Honolulu for help, along with Lieutenant John G. Talbot. After great suffering, and 31 days at sea, the party reached Kauai Island December 19, 1870. In attempting to land through the heavy surf, all but Halford were drowned, but he managed to reach shore and bring help to his shipmates.

Halford received the Medal of Honor for his bravery[1] and was promoted to the warrant officer rank of gunner on April 14, 1871. He was promoted to chief gunner on March 3, 1899. He served in the Navy for 32 years until August 18, 1903, when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 62.[citation needed]

When the United States entered the First World War, the Navy had a dire need for experienced officers. Provisions were made for retired chief warrant officers, like Halford, to be placed on active duty at a higher rank than that which they retired at.[citation needed] Halford returned to active duty and was promoted to lieutenant on July 1, 1918.[1]

Halford served on active duty until he died on February 7, 1919 at Oakland, California.[1] He was buried at the Mare Island Navy Yard cemetery in Vallejo, California.


Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Rank and organization: Coxswain, U.S. Navy. Born: 18 August 1841, Gloucester, England. Accredited to: California. G.O. No.: 169, 8 February 1872.


Halford was sole survivor of the boat's crew sent to the Sandwich Islands for assistance after the wreck of the Saginaw, October 1870. Promoted to acting gunner.[2]

See also[edit]