James R. Ward

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James Richard Ward
Seaman First Class James R. Ward, Medal of Honor recipient
Born(1921-09-10)September 10, 1921
Springfield, Ohio
DiedDecember 7, 1941(1941-12-07) (aged 20)
Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii
Place of burial
listed in Courts of the Missing, Honolulu Memorial, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii. A cenotaph has been placed in Ferncliff Cemetery, in his hometown of Springfield, Ohio
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service1940 – 1941
Rank Seaman First Class
UnitUSS Oklahoma
Battles/warsWorld War II
Awards Medal of Honor

James Richard Ward (September 10, 1921 – December 7, 1941) was a US Navy sailor who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the attack on Pearl Harbor.


Ward enlisted in the United States Navy at Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 25, 1940. After basic training, he reported on board the battleship USS Oklahoma (BB-37).

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Oklahoma took three torpedoes soon after the attack began. She listed dangerously, and it was soon apparent that she would capsize. The order was given to abandon ship, but Seaman First Class Ward remained in a turret holding a flashlight, thus sacrificing his own life to permit other members of the crew to escape. For his heroism at that time, he posthumously received the Medal of Honor.

On August 19, 2021, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) identified the remains of Seaman First Class James Richard Ward.

Awards and honors[edit]

A light blue ribbon with five white five pointed stars 
Bronze star
Bronze star
Medal of Honor Purple Heart
American Defense Service Medal
w/ Fleet clasp
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
w/ campaign star
World War II Victory Medal

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. When it was seen that the U.S.S. Oklahoma was going to capsize and the order was given to abandon ship, Ward remained in a turret holding a flashlight so the remainder of the turret crew could see to escape, thereby sacrificing his own life.


In 1943, the destroyer escort USS J. Richard Ward (DE-243), was named in honor of Seaman First Class Ward.

See also[edit]


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.
  • "James Richard Ward, Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Historical Center, Department of the Navy". Retrieved September 29, 2010.

External links[edit]