Lieutenant Commander Jackson C. Pharris, USN, (1912-1966)

Jackson Charles Pharris was born on 26 June 1912 in Columbus, Georgia. He enlisted from that same state in the U.S. Navy in April 1933. After reenlisting, he served on board USS Mississippi, where he was appointed to the warrant rank of Gunner in January 1941. That February, he received orders to USS California and was on board when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. During the attack, he was wounded by explosions and rendered unconscious from the nauseous fumes. Regaining consciousness, he bravely led an ordnance repair party to counterflood the vessel. For his action on this occasion, Pharris was awarded the Navy Cross. In June 1942, he was commissioned an Ensign.

In July 1944, Pharris was promoted to Lieutenant and reported to the Twelfth Naval District at San Francisco, California. That October, he was assigned to the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Company at Quincy, Massachusetts, in order to help fit out USS Saint Paul. A year later, Pharris transferred for treatment at the the Naval Hospital at Long Beach, California. Following discharge from the hospital in April 1946, he received orders to the Naval Ammunition and Net Depot at Seal Beach, California, later transferring to Terminal Island Naval Base, at San Pedro, California. During this period, he continued to be rehabilitated for the wounds he received on board California.

In March 1947, Pharris was ordered to the Naval Training and Distribution Center at Port Hueneme, California. In May 1948, he retired due to his continued disability and was promoted to Lieutenant Commander on the retired list. On 25 June, the Navy Cross awarded for his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" at Pearl Harbor was upgraded to the Medal of Honor. President Harry S. Truman presented the award during a White House ceremony. Jackson C. Pharris died on 17 October 1966 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

USS Pharris (FF-1094), 1974-1995, was named in honor of Lieutenant Commander Jackson C. Pharris.

This page features all the images we have concerning Jackson C. Pharris.

Photo #: NH 106422

Lieutenant Jackson C. Pharris, USN

Halftone reproduction of a photograph, copied from the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 239.
Jackson C. Pharris was awarded the Medal of Honor for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" while leading a repair party on board USS California (BB-44) during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 48KB; 580 x 765 pixels

Photo #: 80-G-705728

President Harry S. Truman

Presents the Medal of Honor to three former servicemen, in ceremonies at the White House, 25 June 1948.
Recipients are (left to right):
Lieutenant Commander Jackson Charles Pharris, USN (Ret);
Pharmacist's Mate First Class Francis Junior Pierce, USN;
and Staff Sergeant John R. Crews, U.S. Army.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection

Online Image: 67KB; 740 x 585 pixels

Reproductions may also be available at National Archives.


Medal of Honor citation of Lieutenant Jackson C. Pharris, USN (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 239):

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while attached to the U.S.S. California during the surprise enemy Japanese aerial attack on Pearl Harbor, T.H., 7 December 1941. In charge of the ordnance repair party on the third deck when the first Japanese torpedo struck almost directly under his station, Lieutenant (then gunner) Pharris was stunned and severely injured by the concussion which hurled him to the overhead and back to the deck. Quickly recovering, he acted on his own initiative to set up a hand-supply ammunition train for the antiaircraft guns. With water and oil rushing in where the port bulkhead had been torn up from the deck, with many of the remaining crew members overcome by oil fumes, and the ship without power and listing heavily to port as a result of a second torpedo hit, Lieutenant Pharris ordered the shipfitters to counterflood. Twice rendered unconscious by the nauseous fumes and handicapped by his painful injuries, he persisted in his desperate efforts to speed up the supply of ammunition and at the same time repeatedly risked his life to enter flooding compartments and drag to safety unconscious shipmates who were gradually being submerged in oil. By his inspiring leadership, his valiant efforts and his extreme loyalty to his ship and her crew, he saved many of his shipmates from death and was largely responsible for keeping the California in action during the attack. His heroic conduct throughout this first eventful engagement of World War II reflects the highest credit upon Lieutenant Pharris and enhances the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

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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