Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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Interim 1915 - 1916 - U.S. Navy

Robert Webster Cary

  • Rank: Lieutenant Commander (rank at time of action Ensign, highest rank: Rear Admiral)
  • Conflict/Era: Interim 1915 - 1916
  • Unit/Command:
    U.S.S. San Diego
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Navy
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: January 21, 1915
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: near La Paz on board the U.S.S. San Diego

For extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession on the occasion of an explosion on board the U.S.S. San Diego 21 January 1915. Lt. Comdr. Cary (then Ens.), U.S. Navy, an observer on duty in the firerooms of the U.S.S. San Diego, commenced to take the half-hourly readings of the steam pressure at every boiler. He had read the steam and air pressure on No. 2 boiler and was just stepping through the electric watertight door into No. 1 fireroom when the boilers in No. 2 fireroom exploded. Ens. Cary stopped and held open the doors which were being closed electrically from the bridge, and yelled to the men in No. 2 fireroom to escape through these doors, which three of them did. Ens. Cary's action undoubtedly saved the lives of these men. He held the doors probably a minute with the escaping steam from the ruptured boilers around him. His example of coolness did much to keep the men in No. 1 fireroom at their posts hauling fires, although five boilers in their immediate vicinity had exploded and boilers Nos. 1 and 3 apparently had no water in them and were likely to explode any instant. When these fires were hauled under Nos. 1 and 3 boilers, Ens. Cary directed the men in this fireroom into the bunker, for they well knew the danger of these two boilers exploding. During the entire time Ens. Cary was cool and collected and showed an abundance of nerve under the most trying circumstances. His action on this occasion was above and beyond the call of duty.

Medal of Honor Recipient Robert W. Cary
Medal of Honor Recipient Robert W. Cary
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Bunceton, Cooper County, Missouri
  • Awarded Posthumously: No
  • Presentation Date & Details: June 16, 1934

    By Captain H. G. S. Wallace, at the Bremerton Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington.

  • Born: August 18, 1890, Kansas City, Clay County, MO, United States
  • Died: July 15, 1967, Toledo, OH, United States
  • Buried: Arlington National Cemetery (6-5695-G), Arlington, VA, United States

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