Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Bigelow, Elmer Charles
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Bigelow, Elmer Charles

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Water Tender Second Class, USN (1920-1945)

Elmer Charles Bigelow was born in Hebron, Illinois, on 12 July 1920. He enlisted in the Naval Reserve at Chicago in September 1942 and received training at Great Lakes, Illinois, and Lawrence, Kansas, before being assigned as a Fireman Third Class on board the destroyer Fletcher (DD-445) in June 1943. While serving in that ship, he advanced in rate to Water Tender Second Class. On 14 February 1945, while assisting minesweeping operations prior to landings on Manila Bay's Corregidor Island, Fletcher was hit by an enemy shell and set afire. Bigelow heroically fought the blaze, contributing greatly to saving his ship, but was badly injured and died the next day . Water Tender Second Class Bigelow was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity".


The destroyer USS Bigelow (DD-942), 1957-1990, was named in honor of Water Tender Second Class Elmer Charles Bigelow.


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