Lieutenant Commander Robert Semple, USN, (1887-1943)

Robert Semple was born on 18 August 1887 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy from that same state in February 1906. During his eight years of service, he was promoted to the enlisted rank of Chief Gunner. On 21 April 1914, at the intervention at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he served as the Chief Turret Captain on board USS Frederick, which provided gun support for landing forces to ensure the capture of the city. For his "meritorious service" on this occasion, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. In December 1915, Semple was commissioned to the warrant officer rank of Gunner and reported to USS Frederick.

During World War I, Semple received a temporary promotion to Ensign in August 1917, which was followed by a temporary promotion to Lieutenant Junior Grade. In September 1918, he was temporarily promoted to Lieutenant and assigned to USS Oklahoma. For his performance while patrolling minefields in the North Sea, Semple received the Navy Cross. In December 1919, he served on board the receiving ship Philadelphia at Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington. In June 1920, he was assigned to the Naval Ammunition Depot at Fort Mifflin, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and later transferred to the Naval Ammunition Depot at San Julien's Creek, Portsmouth, Virginia. While at the Ammunition Depot, Semple was reverted to the warrant officer rank of Chief Gunner. Returning to sea duty, he report first to USS Beaver, then to the respective cargo ships Pensacola and Gold Star.

In the spring of 1926, Semple was ordered to the Naval Mine Depot at Yorktown, Virginia. In August 1928, he returned for duty on board USS Oklahoma. In February 1931, he was assigned to the Naval Ammunition Depot at Hawthorne, Nevada. Two years later, he departed for overseas duty at Naval Station, Guam. In the summer of 1935, he reported to the destroyer tender Rigel. In October 1937, Semple retired and was placed on the retired list as a Lieutenant due his prior combat service. During World War II, he was recalled to active duty but died on 13 May 1943, which was also became his promotion date for Lieutenant Commander. Robert Semple is interned at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California.

This page features the only image we have concerning Robert Semple.

Photo #: NH 45602

Lieutenant Robert Semple, USN

He awarded the Medal of Honor for his "meritorious service under fire" during the intervention at Vera Cruz, Mexico while serving on board USS Florida on 21 April 1914. Semple also received the Navy Cross for patrolling minefields in the North Sea on board USS Oklahoma. Photographed circa World War I.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 57KB; 505 x 765 pixels


Medal of Honor citation of Lieutenant Robert Semple, USN (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 102):

"For meritorious service under fire on the occasion of the landing of the American naval forces at Vera Cruz on 21 April 1914. Chief Gunner Semple was then attached to the USS Florida as a chief turret 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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