Pearl Harbor’s Medal of Honor Recipients
Many heroes rose to the occasion during the attack on Pearl Harbor, but some were recognized for their heroic efforts to protect their fellow servicemen. For their service, many received America's highest military recognition – the Congressional Medal of Honor. The following sailors and Marines, stationed on Oahu and aboard the ill-fated battleships, are among those who received the Medal of Honor for their extreme efforts during Japan’s attack on December 7th, 1941.
John William Finn
Chief Aviation Ordnanceman John Finn single-handedly stood his ground against Japan’s fighters using nothing more than a .50-caliber machine gun. Exposed to enemy fire and bombing, Finn miraculously survived the attack with treatable wounds. His disregard for his own safety and his insistence on standing his ground earned him his Medal of Honor.
Flaherty’s posthumous award was in honor of his greatest sacrifice. When the USS Oklahoma started to capsize, Flaherty grabbed a flashlight and remained behind to ensure the other crewmen in the turret he manned would be able to escape. Flaherty never escaped the Oklahoma.
Samuel Glenn Fuqua
Aboard the doomed USS Arizona, then-Lieutenant Commander Samuel Fuqua suffered through incoming enemy fire to help direct relief efforts for wounded and injured sailors. Even as the Arizona threatened to sink to the harbor’s floor, Fuqua stood at his station, directing rescue teams and fire crews. When the fate of the Arizona was sealed and Fuqua was left as the commanding officer, he gave the order to abandon ship and remained behind to save the remaining men he could. He survived the attack and went on to receive a well-deserved Medal of Honor.
Isaac Campbell Kidd
The USS Arizona suffered the greatest losses during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Isaac Campbell Kidd being one of them. The Rear Admiral refused to abandon the vessel, instead insisting on performing his duties until the very end. Right up until the Arizona suffered a direct hit to her forward magazines, causing a massive explosion, Kidd remained in command. Kidd was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously, after giving his life aboard the Arizona.
Jackson Charles Pharris
Even through severe injury and other hindrances, many of the servicemen present at the Pearl Harbor attack persisted. Early into the attack, Pharris suffered a severe injury when a Japanese torpedo struck the USS California, aboard which he was in charge of the ordnance repair party. Despite nearly perishing multiple times during the attack, Pharris continued to assist his crewmates, dragging those who had fallen unconscious under noxious fumes from the vessel. For saving many of his fellow sailors on the California and for his efforts in keeping the vessel afloat, Pharris received a Medal of Honor.
Like many of his shipmates throughout the attack, Peter Tomich, who served aboard the USS Utah, risked everything to save those he worked with. As the Utah took on damage from Japan’s fighters, Tomich remained at his post to ensure all of the men in the engineering plant escaped the ship alive. His persistence to stay behind left him no time to evacuate the ship, and he perished aboard his ship.