On 28 October 1923 Torpedoman 2nd Class Henry Breault was a member of the crew of USS O-5 (SS-66) when his ship collided with the Steamship Abangarez and sank in less than a minute. Breault was in the torpedo room when he realized the sub was sinking. Rather than leaping overboard to save his own life, he returned to the torpedo room to rescue a shipmate who was trapped on board. Closing the room’s hatch on them, they remained stuck in the compartment until rescued 31 hours later. Breault’s shipmate almost certainly would have died had Breault not intervened at the risk to this own life.
It was for this act of heroism that Breault was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Calvin Coolidge a few months later on March 8, 1924. Breault served the US Navy for the rest of his life. He died at the Naval Hospital at Newport, Rhode Island, on December 4, 1941.
Henry Breault was born in Putnam, Connecticut, on October 14, 1900. He enlisted in the British Royal Navy at sixteen. After four years of serving in the Royal Navy he joined the U.S. Navy.