Submarines: Medals of Honor

Above & Beyond Under the Seas

Throughout our nation’s history, eight different submariners have earned the Medal of Honor.  Seven of the eight recipients were commanders of attack submarines in the Pacific during World War II.  In that theater American submarines played a central role in defeating Imperial Japan, sinking more Japanese ships than any other platform. The costs for these aggressive patrols were high.  Fifty-two U.S. Navy submarines would be lost during World War II – almost 1 out of every 5.5 submarines in operation.  Learn more about these brave members of the Silent Service.

Medal of Honor Submariners

Submarine Medal of Honor Recipients

Submarine Related Medals of Honor


World War II Submarines in the Pacific: Location of Medal of Honor Actions

David Ramsey Map Collection (Japan From China by Richard Harrison, 1944)

The Medal of Honor & Submarines: Interesting Facts

1.  Three of the seven Medals of Honor awarded to submariners during World War II were posthumous.

2.  22% of all U.S. submariners became casualties during World War II – the highest rate for any branch of the U.S. military.

3.  All seven of the Medal of Honor submarine skippers during World War II were graduates of the United States Naval Academy.

4.  Torpedoman 2nd Class Henry Breault is the only enlisted submariner to have earned the Medal of Honor.  He also served in the Royal Navy prior to joining the U.S. Navy.

5.  LT Albert David led a team of sailors into the sinking German submarine U-505.  Not only did U-505 produce much valuable intelligence, but the submarine is now on display in a museum in Chicago.

6.  Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, the infamous location where President Kennedy was assassinated, is named after Medal of Honor recipient Sam Dealey’s uncle.

7.  Three of the top five submarine commanders (by tonnage of ships sunk) are Medal of Honor recipients – #1 O’Kane, #4 Eugene Fluckey, #5 Samuel Dealey.

8.  The U.S. Submarine force in the Pacific during World War II comprised less than 2% of the overall U.S. Navy in terms of men, but accounted for more than 55% of all Japanese maritime and naval losses by tonnage.

9.  In addition to the terrible damage inflicted on the Japanese merchant fleet, U.S. submarines also sank 4 Japanese fleet carriers, 4 escort carriers, 1 battleship, 4 heavy cruisers, 9 light cruisers, 38 destroyers, and 23 enemy submarines.

10.  U.S. submarines were also vital in rescuing downed pilots.  Submarines rescued 504 airmen from the waters of the Pacific in World War II.  The USS Finback rescued future U.S. president George H.W. Bush in 1944.


Learn More About U.S. Submarines in World War II



Submarine Dolphins