John Davis (Medal of Honor, 1881)

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For other people named John Davis, see John Davis (disambiguation).
John Davis
Born 1854
Kingston, Jamaica
Died August 19, 1903 (aged 48–49)
Place of burial Hampton National Cemetery, Hampton, Virginia
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch Navy
Rank Ordinary Seaman
Unit USS Trenton
Awards Medal of Honor

John Davis (1854 – August 19, 1903) was a United States Navy sailor and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor.


Born in 1854 in Kingston, Jamaica, Davis immigrated to the United States and by February 1881 was serving as an ordinary seaman on the USS Trenton.[1] Sometime during that month, while Trenton was at Toulon, France, Coxswain Augustus Ohlensen fell overboard and, because he could not swim, began to sink. Davis and another sailor, Seaman Alexander Haure Turvelin, jumped into the water and rescued Ohlensen from drowning.[2] For this action, both he and Turvelin were awarded the Medal of Honor three and a half years later, on October 18, 1884.[1]

Davis' official Medal of Honor citation reads:

On board the U.S.S. Trenton, Toulon, France, February 1881. Jumping overboard, Davis rescued Augustus Ohlensen, coxswain, from drowning.[1]

Davis left the Navy while still an ordinary seaman. He died at age 48 or 49 and was buried at Hampton National Cemetery in Hampton, Virginia.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Medal of Honor recipients - Interim Awards, 1871–1898". Medal of Honor citations. United States Army Center of Military History. August 5, 2010. Retrieved September 3, 2010. 
  2. ^ "National Capital Topics: Naval Intelligence". The New York Times (New York). March 9, 1881. Retrieved September 3, 2010. 
  3. ^ "John Davis". Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients. Find a Grave. September 24, 2003. Retrieved September 3, 2010.