Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command


Schonland, Herbert E.

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Rear Admiral, USN (Retired), (1900-1984)

Rear Admiral Herbert E. Schonland, USN (Retired), (1900-1984)

Herbert Emery Schonland was born on 7 September 1900 in Portland, Maine. Appointed from that state to the Naval Academy, he graduated as an Ensign in June 1925. Reporting to USS Utah for sea duty, he later transferred to USS Lawrence. In June 1928, he was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade and subsequently served in the submarine tenders Camden and Bushnell. Following instruction at the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, Rhode Island in 1932-1934, Schonland was assigned to USS Milwaukee while also serving as Torpedo Repair Officer of Cruiser Division Three, Battle Force. Transferring to USS Argonne in July 1935, he was promoted to Lieutenant in May 1936. In June 1937 he became an instructor at the Naval Training Station, Newport, Rhode Island. In June 1939, Lieutenant Schonland was assigned to the heavy cruiser San Francisco, in which he served for more than four years. He was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in July 1941 and to Commander in August 1942.

Schonland's ship played an important role during the first three months of the long and difficult fight for Guadalcanal. In the bloody 13 November 1942 night action in Iron Bottom Sound, she was flagship of Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan's U.S. Navy task force. While battling a greatly superior Japanese force that included two battleships, San Francisco was badly damaged by enemy gunfire. Rear Admiral Callaghan and the ship's Captain, Cassin Young, were among those killed, leaving Commander Schonland as senior surviving officer. Though command thereby devolved on him, he was already engaged in vital damage control efforts. Recognizing that Lieutenant Commander Bruce McCandless was skillfully conning the cruiser, Schonland remained at his post below, where his efforts were critical to saving the ship. For his "extreme heroism and courage"on this occasion, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

When San Francisco was repaired and returned to combat service in 1943, Commander Schonland served as her Executive Officer. In the fall of that year, he was assigned to staff duty with the Naval Training School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and, early in 1944, he became a damage control instructor at the Naval Training School, San Francisco, California. Schonland was promoted to Captain in August 1944, with the rank backdated to August 1943. Retiring from active service at the beginning of 1947, he was promoted to Rear Admiral on the retired list in recognition of his distinguished combat record. Herbert E. Schonland died on 13 November 1984 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.