PEOPLE--UNITED STATES

Commander Howard W. Gilmore, USN, (1902-1943)

Howard Walter Gilmore was born on 29 September 1902 in Selma, Alabama. After enlisting in the U.S. Navy, he was appointed to the Naval Academy, from which he graduated in June 1926. As an Ensign and Lieutenant Junior Grade he served on board the battleship Mississippi and destroyer Perry (DD-340). In 1931 Gilmore received instruction at the Submarine School, New London, Connecticut, then reported for duty on USS S-48 (SS-159). Following ordnance engineering training at the Naval Postgraduate School and the Washington Navy Yard during 1932-1935, he was assigned to the new submarine Shark, becoming her Executive Officer and Navigator when she was placed in commission in January 1936. Several months later he was promoted to Lieutenant.

Lieutenant Gilmore's next assignment, as Executive Officer of the submarine Dolphin in 1937-1939, was followed by nearly two years' duty at the Naval Proving Ground, Dahlgren, Virginia. Attaining the rank of Lieutenant Commander in 1941, later in that year he commanded S-48 before going to the Electric Boat Company, Groton, Connecticut, to fit out the new submarine Growler (SS-215). With Gilmore as her Commanding Officer, she went to the Pacific in the spring of 1942 and began her first war patrol in late June. Early in July Growler sank one Japanese destroyer and damaged two others off Kiska, Aleutians, earning Gilmore the Navy Cross for his "extraordinary heroism". During her second war patrol, in the East China Sea near Taiwan during August and September 1942, his submarine sank four more enemy ships, for which he was awarded a second Navy Cross.

Growler operated in the Bismarcks area on her fourth war patrol, sinking one ship and attacking several others during January and early February 1943. On 7 February she fought a desperate night battle with the Japanese supply ship Hayasaki, during which Gilmore rammed the enemy ship, badly bending Growler's bow. Wounded by machine gun fire and unable to go below, Gilmore gave the order "Take her down!", sacrificing himself so his submarine could dive to safety. For his "distinguished gallantry and valor" on this occasion and earlier in the patrol, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor and promoted to Commander. Howard W. Gilmore is listed on the Manila Cemetery's "Wall of the Missing", Manila, Philippines.

USS Howard W. Gilmore (AS-16), 1944-2006, was named in honor of Commander Howard W. Gilmore.

This page features the only images we have concerning Howard W. Gilmore.

Photo #: NH 74514

Lieutenant Commander Howard W. Gilmore, USN


Halftone reproduction of a photograph, copied from the official publication "United States Submarine Operations in World War II," page 207.
Howard W. Gilmore was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for "distinguished gallantry and valor" from 10 January to 7 February 1943 while serving as the Commanding Officer of USS Growler (SS-215) in the Bismarck Islands area.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 67KB; 470 x 765 pixels

 
hoto #: NH 106205-A

Lieutenant Commander Howard W. Gilmore, USN


Photographed circa mid-1942, just after being awarded the Navy Cross for his "extraordinary heroism" while serving as Commanding Officer of USS Growler (SS-215) from 20 June to 17 July 1942.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, Naval History and Heritage Command collection

Online Image: 69KB; 575 x 765 pixels

 
Photo #: 80-G-41356

Lieutenant Commander Howard W. Gilmore, USN


Photographed after being awarded the Navy Cross for his "extraordinary heroism" while serving as Commanding Officer of USS Growler (SS-215) from 20 June to 17 July 1942.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection

Online Image: 60KB; 580 x 765 pixels

Reproductions may also be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: NH 106205

Lieutenant Commander Howard W. Gilmore, USN


Halftone reproduction of a photograph, copied from the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 192.
Howard W. Gilmore was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for "distinguished gallantry and valor" from 10 January to 7 February 1943 while serving as Commanding Officer of USS Growler (SS-215).
This image is a retouched version of that seen in Photo #: NH 106205-A.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 74KB; 615 x 765 pixels

 
Photo #: 80-G-88577

U.S. Naval Submarine Base, New London,
Groton, Connecticut


Members of the 4th Command Class at the Submarine Base, February 1942.
Those present are, bottom row left to right:
Lieutenant Commander Mannert L. Abele;
Lieutenant Commander Thomas B. Klakring;
Commander Karl G. Hensel, Officer in Charge;
Lieutenant Commander George W. Patterson, Jr., Senior Assistant; and
Lieutenant Commander Jesse L. Hull.
Top row, left to right:
Lieutenant Commander Howard W. Gilmore;
Lieutenant Commander Philip H. Ross;
Lieutenant Commander Arthur H. Taylor;
Lieutenant Commander Albert C. Burrows; and
Lieutenant Commander Leonard S. Mewhinney.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection

Online Image: 83KB; 740 x 560 pixels

Reproductions may be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: NH 74515

USS Growler
(SS-215)

Halftone reproduction of a photograph, copied from the official publication "United States Submarine Operations in World War II," page 207.
The photo was taken while Growler was alongside USS Fulton (AS-11) at Brisbane, Australia in February 1943, after ramming a Japanese Patrol Vessel in the Bismarck Islands area on 7 February 1943. Note her badly bent bow.
Growler's Commanding Officer, Commander Howard W. Gilmore, USN, lost his life in this action.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 111KB; 620 x 765 pixels

 
Photo #: 80-G-42661

Commander Howard W. Gilmore, USN


Mrs. Howard W. Gilmore is presented with her husband's Medal of Honor by Rear Admiral Andrew C. Bennett, USN, Commander, Eighth Naval District, 18 August 1943. Standing by are the Gilmore's son, Howard Jr., and daughter Vernon Jeanne.
The medal was posthumously awarded to Commander Gilmore for heroism in action on board USS Growler (SS-215) on 7 February 1943.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection

Online Image: 75KB; 740 x 605 pixels

Reproductions may be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-42663

Commander Howard W. Gilmore, USN


Mrs. Howard W. Gilmore transfers her late husband's Medal of Honor to her son, Howard Jr., at the ceremony in which the medal was posthumously awarded to Commander Gilmore for heroism in action on board USS Growler (SS-215), on 7 February 1943. Standing by are Commander Gilmore's daughter, Vernon Jeanne, and Rear Admiral Andrew C. Bennett, USN, Commandant, Eighth Naval District. This presentation ceremony took place on 18 August 1943.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection

Online Image: 89KB; 740 x 605 pixels

Reproductions may be available at National Archives.

 


Medal of Honor citation of Commander Howard Walter Gilmore, USN (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 192):

"For distinguished gallantry and valor above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Growler during her Fourth War Patrol in the Southwest Pacific from 10 January to 7 February 1943. Boldly striking at the enemy in spite of continuous hostile air and antisubmarine patrols, Commander Gilmore sank one Japanese freighter and damaged another by torpedo fire, successfully evading severe depth charges following each attack. In the darkness of night on 7 February, an enemy gunboat closed range and prepared to ram the Growler. Commander Gilmore daringly maneuvered to avoid the crash and rammed the attacker instead, ripping into her port side at 17 knots and bursting wide her plates. In the terrific fire of the sinking gunboat's heavy machine guns, Commander Gilmore calmly gave the order to clear the bridge, and refusing safety for himself, remained on deck while his men preceded him below. Struck down by the fusillade of bullets and having done his utmost against the enemy, in his final living moments, Commander Gilmore gave his last order to the officer of the deck, 'Take her down.' The Growler dived; seriously damaged but under control, she was brought safely to port by her well-trained crew inspired by the courageous fighting spirit of their dead captain."


For higher resolution images see: Obtaining Photographic Reproductions

To the best of our knowledge, the pictures referenced here are all in the Public Domain, and can therefore be freely downloaded and used for any purpose.





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