Commander Arthur M. Preston, USNR, (1913-1968)
Arthur Murray Preston was born on 1 November 1913 in Washington, D.C. A graduate of Yale University and the University of Virginia, he practiced law in Washington D.C. before enlisting in the U.S. Navy's V-7 Program as an Apprentice Seaman from Maryland in September 1940. He completed training at the Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School at Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois and was commissioned an Ensign in March 1941. Following a brief tour with Motor Boat Submarine Chaser Squadron One, he received additional training at the U.S. Naval Torpedo School, Newport Rhode Island and at Packard Marine Engine School at Detroit, Michigan. In August, Preston was assigned to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron One at Hawaii and was with his squadron when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December. In June 1942, he was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade and to Lieutenant that December. In July 1943, he returned to the U.S. and instructed at Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Four at Newport, Rhode Island.
In October 1943, Preston assumed command of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Thirty-Three and joined the Seventh Fleet's Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons within the Aitape-Wewak area. Accompanied by PT 363 on 16 September 1944, he departed in PT 489 and rushed through 60 miles of heavily mined waters to rescue Ensign Harold A. Thompson, a Navy pilot from the escort carrier USS Santee shot down in Wasile Bay, near Halmahera Island. Twice turned back due to intense Japanese fire, PT 363 picked-up Thompson and both boats returned at high speed back to safety. For his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" on this occasion, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
In the Fall of 1944, Preston's squadron helped to prepare for the landings at the Battle of Leyte Gulf and at the Battle of Surigao Strait. That December, he became the Senior Squadron Commander, Motor Torpedo Boats at the Philippine Islands and Operations Officer for all PTs in the Leyte area. In the late Winter and early Spring of 1945, he participated in the various landings within the Southern Visayas of the Philippine Islands. Returning to the U.S. in May, he served as the Aide and Flag Secretary to the Commandant of the Fifth Naval District at Norfolk, Virginia. In July, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander. That November, he was released from active duty and resumed his prior military career as a lawyer in Washington, D.C. while also remaining in the inactive reserves. In November 1953, he was transferred to the retired list and promoted to Commander due to his combat awards. Arthur M. Preston died on 7 January 1968 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.
This page features the only image we have concerning Arthur M. Preston.
Medal of Honor citation of Lieutenant Arthur Murray Preston, USNR
(as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor,
1861-1949, The Navy", page 246):|
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