John Robert Monaghan, born 26 March 1873 in Chawelah, Wash., was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy from the state of Washington on 7 September 1891. Classmates wrote "I've got a drop of the Irish blood in me mesilf," as a nod to his ancestry, and he played baseball at the Academy, on both the class teams (1892, 1893 and 1894), and on the Academy (1892 and 1894), playing right field during the 1894 season. He graduated from the Naval Academy in June 1895.
After service in monitor Monadnock and Alert he was assigned to the cruiser Philadelphia, flagship of the Pacific Station. During a combined American and British reconnaissance near Apia, Samoa, on 1 April 1899, the American detachment, from Philadelphia, under the command of Lt. Philip V. Lansdale, came under fire from hostile Samoans "which it was impossible to withstand."During the ensuing retreat, Lansdale fell, wounded, as he attempted to cover the retreat with a machine gun. Monaghan seized a rifle "from a disabled man [to make] a brave defense." The Samoans rushed them. Ensign Monaghan, one observer later wrote, "stood steadfast by his wounded superior and friend; one rifle against many -- one brave man against a score of savages. He knew he was doomed. He could not yield. He died in heroic performance of duty..."
(Destroyer No.32: displacement 787; length 293'11"; beam 27'; draft 8'4"; speed 30 knots; complement 89; armament 5 3", 2 .30 caliber Colt automatic guns, 6 18" torpedo tubes; class Monaghan)
The first Monaghan (Destroyer No. 32) was laid down on 1 June 1910 at Newport News, Va., by Newport News Shipbuilding Co. ; launched on 18 February 1911; sponsored by Mrs. Frank J. Gavin, sister of the late Ens. Monaghan; and commissioned on 21 June 1911, Lt. Comdr. William P. Cronan in command.
Joining the Atlantic Fleet, Monaghan took part in fleet readiness training and operations which prepared the U.S. Navy to enter action immediately when its country joined the Allies in World War I. Monaghan’s first war service was on patrol along the Atlantic coast; she then escorted troop convoys through the dangerous midocean section of their crossings. From November 1917 until the Armistice a year later, Monaghan made antisubmarine patrols against the U‑boat menace in European waters.
Monaghan was decommissioned at Philadelphia on 4 November 1919, and while inactive was redesignated DD-32 during the assignment of alphanumeric hull numbers on 17 July 1920. Transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard on 7 June 1924, Monaghan was commissioned at Philadelphia on 30 June 1925. Ordered to New London, Conn., on 22 May 1926, she arrived at her destination on 10 July. She operated off the eastern seaboard of the United States between New London and St.Petersburg, Florida, punctuating that duty with visits to Charleston, S.C. until transferred to the Boston, Mass.-based Division 3 on 1 June 1930. Monaghan ultimately returned to Philadelphia on 1 November 1930, and was decommissioned there on 29 January 1931. She was returned to the Navy on 8 May 1931.
The Navy dropped the name Monaghan on 1 July 1933 so that it might be assigned to a new construction destroyer. DD-32, as the ship was subsequently known, was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 5 July 1934. She was then sold to Michael Flynn of Brooklyn, N.Y., 22 August 1934 for scrapping in accordance with the London Treaty limiting naval armament.
Revised, Robert J. Cressman, 8 November 2006