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Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Navy

Jackson Charles Pharris

Details
  • Rank: Gunner (Highest Rank: Lieutenant)
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    U.S.S. California
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Navy
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: December 7, 1941
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory, USA
Citation

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while attached to the U.S.S. California during the surprise enemy Japanese aerial attack on Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941. In charge of the ordnance repair party on the third deck when the first Japanese torpedo struck almost directly under his station, Lt. (then Gunner) Pharris was stunned and severely injuried by the concussion which hurled him to the overhead and back to the deck. Quickly recovering, he acted on his own initiative to set up a hand-supply ammunition train for the antiaircraft guns. With water and oil rushing in where the port bulkhead had been torn up from the deck, with many of the remaining crewmembers overcome by oil fumes, and the ship without power and listing heavily to port as a result of a second torpedo hit, Lt. Pharris ordered the shipfitters to counterflood. Twice rendered unconscious by the nauseous fumes and handicapped by his painful injuries, he persisted in his desperate efforts to speed up the supply of ammunition and at the same time repeatedly risked his life to enter the flooding compartments and drag to safety unconscious shipmates who were gradually being submerged in oil. By his inspiring leadership, his valiant efforts, and extreme loyalty to his ship and her crew, he saved many of his shipmates from death and was largely responsible for keeping the California in action during the attack. His heroic conduct throughout this first eventful engagement of World War II reflects the highest credit upon Lt. Pharris and enhances the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Medal of Honor Recipient Jackson Pharris
Medal of Honor Recipient Jackson Pharris
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: California
  • Awarded Posthumously: No
  • Presentation Date & Details: June 25, 1948

    At the White House Rose Garden by President Harry Truman

  • Born: June 26, 1912, Columbus, Muscogee County, GA, United States
  • Died: October 17, 1966, Sawtelle, CA
  • Buried: Arlington National Cemetery (MH) (13-16281), Arlington, VA, United States
 

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