Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Navy

John Philip Cromwell

  • Rank: Captain
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    U.S.S. Sculpin
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Navy
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: November 19, 1943
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: off Truk Island, off Truk Island, South Pacific
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commander of a submarine coordinated attack group with flag in the U.S.S. Sculpin, during the 9th war patrol of that vessel in enemy-controlled waters off Truk Island, 19 November 1943. Undertaking this patrol prior to the launching of our first large-scale offensive in the Pacific, Capt. Cromwell, alone of the entire Task Group, possessed secret intelligence information of our submarine strategy and tactics, scheduled Fleet movements, and specific attack plans. Constantly vigilant and precise in carrying out his secret orders, he moved his undersea flotilla inexorably forward despite savage opposition and established a line of submarines to southeastward of the main Japanese stronghold at Truk. Cool and undaunted as the submarine, rocked and battered by Japanese depth charges, sustained terrific battle damage and sank to an excessive depth, he authorized the Sculpin to surface and engage the enemy in a gunfight, thereby providing an opportunity for the crew to abandon ship. Determined to sacrifice himself rather than risk capture and subsequent danger of revealing plans under Japanese torture or use of drugs, he stoically remained aboard the mortally wounded vessel as she plunged to her death. Preserving the security of his mission, at the cost of his own life, he had served his country as he had served the Navy, with deep integrity and an uncompromising devotion to duty. His great moral courage in the face of certain death adds new luster to the traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Medal of Honor Recipient John P. Cromwell
Medal of Honor Recipient John P. Cromwell
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Illinois
  • Awarded Posthumously: Yes
  • Presentation Date & Details: April 24, 1946
    San Francisco, California, presented to his Widow and Son
  • Born: September 11, 1901, Henry, Marshall County, IL, United States
  • Died: November 19, 1943, off Truk Island, South Pacific
  • Buried: remains not recovered; National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl)(Wall of the Missing), Honolulu, HI, United States
  • Location of Medal: Submarine Force Library and Museum, Groton, CT

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