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Online Library of Selected Images:
-- PEOPLE -- UNITED STATES --
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.
Click on the small photograph to prompt
a larger view of the same image.
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."
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Page made 7 July 2000
Text corrected 28 February 2006