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Photo Number NH 101647:  Boatswain's Mate Owen F.P. Hammerberg

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Boatswain's Mate Second Class Owen F.P. Hammerberg, USN (1920-1945)

Owen Francis Patrick Hammerberg was born in Daggett, Michigan, on 31 May 1920. After enlisting in the Navy in July 1941 and receiving recruit training at Great Lakes, Illinois, he served on board USS Idaho (BB-42) and USS Advent (AM-83). Promoted to Coxswain in May 1943 and to Boatswain's Mate, Second Class, in October 1943, Hammerberg attended the Deep Sea Diving School at the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C., in 1944. He was then assigned to the Pacific Fleet Salvage Force. On 17 February 1945, during salvage operations in Pearl Harbor, he lost his life while heroically working to rescue two fellow divers. Boatswain's Mate Hammerberg was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at that time.

USS Hammerberg (DE-1015), 1955-1974, was named in honor of BM2 Owen F.P. Hammerberg.

This page features our only image of Owen F.P. Hammerberg.

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Photo #: NH 101647

Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Owen Francis Patrick Hammerberg, USN

Who was awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously, for heroism in saving the lives of two fellow divers during salvage operations in the West Loch, Pearl Harbor, on 17 February 1945.
Halftone reproduction, copied from the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1948, The Navy", page 199.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 55KB; 545 x 765 pixels


Medal of Honor citation of Boatswain's Mate, Second Class, Owen F.P. Hammerberg (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 130):

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a Diver engaged in rescue operations at West Loch, Pearl Harbor, 17 February 1945. Aware of the danger when two fellow divers were hopelessly trapped in a cave-in of steel wreckage while tunneling with jet nozzles under an LST sunk in 40 feet of water and 20 feet of mud, HAMMERBERG unhesitatingly went overboard in a valiant attempt to effect their rescue despite the certain hazard of additional cave-ins and the risk of fouling his life line on jagged pieces of steel imbedded in the shifting mud. Washing a passage through the original excavation, he reached the first of the trapped men, freed him from the wreckage and, working desperately in pitch-black darkness, finally effected his release from fouled lines, thereby enabling him to reach the surface. Wearied but undaunted after several hours of arduous labor, HAMMERBERG resolved to continue his struggle to wash through the oozing, submarine, subterranean mud in a determined effort to save the second diver. Venturing still further under the buried hulk, he held tenaciously to his purpose, reaching a place immediately above the other man just as another cave-in occurred and a heavy piece of steel pinned him crosswise over his shipmate in a position which protected the man beneath from further injury while placing the full brunt of terrific pressure on himself. Although he succumed in agony 18 hours after he had gone to the aid of his fellow-divers, HAMMERBERG, by his cool judgement, unfaltering professional skill and consistent disregard of all personal danger in the face of tremendous odds, had contributed effectively to the saving of his two comrades. His heroic spirit of self-sacrifice throughout enhanced and sustained the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country."

If you want higher resolution reproductions than the "Online Library's" digital images, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

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Page made 7 July 2000
Text corrected 28 February 2006