Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Cromwell, John P.

Cromwell, John P.

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Captain, USN, (1901-1943)

John Philip Cromwell was born in Henry, Illinois, on 11 September 1901. Appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1920, he graduated in June 1924 and served initially in the battleship USS Maryland (BB-46). In 1926, he attended submarine school and was assigned to USS S-24 (SS-129) during 1927-29. He next had three year's diesel engineering instruction, followed by further tours of duty in submarines.


Lieutenant Cromwell commanded USS S-20 (SS-125) in 1936-37, then served on the staff of Commander Submarine Division 4. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander in 1939 and spent two years in Washington, D.C. with the Bureau of Engineering and Bureau of Ships. In May 1941, he became Engineer Officer for the Pacific Fleet submarine force. During 1942-43, he commanded Submarine Divisions 203, 44 and 43.


Following promotion to Captain, he went to sea in USS Sculpin (SS-191) as prospective commander of a mid-Pacific submarine wolf pack. While attacking a Japanese convoy on 19 November 1943, Sculpin was forced to the surface, fatally damaged in a gun battle and abandoned by her surviving crew members. Captain Cromwell, who knew secret details of the impending operation to capture the Gilbert Islands, deliberately remained on board as she sank. For his sacrificial heroism in preventing the enemy from obtaining this information, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. The text of his Medal of Honor citation is reproduced below.


USS Cromwell (DE-1014), 1954-1973, was named in honor of Captain John P. Cromwell.


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