Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Medal of Honor Citation for Lieutenant Commander James J. Madison, Commander, Ticonderoga

MADISON, JAMES JONAS

Rank and organization: Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Naval Reserve Force

Appointed from: Mississippi

Citation: For exceptionally heroic service in a position of great responsibility as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Ticonderoga,1 when, on 4 October 1918, that vessel was attacked by an enemy submarine and was sunk after a prolonged and gallant resistance.2 The submarine opened fire at a range of 500 yards, the first shots taking effect on the bridge and forecastle, 1 of the 2 forward guns of the Ticonderoga being disabled by the second shot. The fire was returned and the fight continued for nearly 2 hours. Lt. Comdr. Madison was severely wounded early in the fight, but caused himself to be placed in a chair on the bridge and continued to direct the fire and to maneuver the ship.3 When the order was finally given to abandon the sinking ship, he became unconscious from loss of blood, but was lowered into a lifeboat and was saved, with 31 others, out of a total number of 236 on board.4

Source Note: Transcript, Medal of Honor Recipients, World War I, U. S. Army Center of Military History, https://history.army.mil/html/moh/worldwari.html#MADISON, accessed 14 February 2019.

Footnote 1: A photograph of Ticonderoga is available in the September 1918 Illustrations page.

Footnote 2: Ticonderoga, formerly the German steamer Kamilla Rickmers, was actually sunk by U-152 (commanded by Kapitänleutnant Adolf Franz) on 30 September 1918. Ticonderoga fell behind its convoy due to engine problems on the 29th, and Franz’s submarine pounced early the next morning. Two survivors were taken prisoner by U-152. After the war, a German submarine admiral praised “the great courage of the American crew.” DANFS, Ticonderoga III; Still, Crisis at Sea: 369-370; Uboat.net.

Footnote 3: Although Madison survived, his wounds from the battle afflicted him the rest of his life. He later had to have one of his legs amputated, and finally died on Christmas Day 1922. He was 34. DANFS, Madison III.

Footnote 4: Other sources place the death toll at 213 or 215 and the number of survivors at 24. Ibid.; Still, Crisis at Sea: 369-370.

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