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First Name: Francis

Last Name: Flaherty

Birthplace: Charlotte, MI, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Charles

Date of Birth: 15 March 1919

Date of Death: 07 December 1941

Rank or Rate: Ensign

Years Served: 1940-1941
Francis Charles Flaherty

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Francis Charles Flaherty
Ensign, U.S. Navy
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Ensign Francis Charles Flaherty (15 March 1919 - 7 December 1941) was an officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve and who was posthumously awarded America's highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for helping his crewmates escape the sinking USS Oklahoma (BB-37) at the expense of his own life, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Francis Charles Flaherty was born on 15 March 1919 in Charlotte, MI. He was a parishioner at St. Mary's Catholic Church while living in Charlotte. He enlisted in the Naval Reserve in July 1940 and was commissioned as an Ensign in December of that year.

At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Flaherty was serving on board the USS Oklahoma. The Oklahoma was based at Pearl Harbor for patrols and exercises, and was moored in Battleship Row when the attack began. Almost immediately after the first Japanese bombs fell, the ship was hit by three torpedoes and began to capsize. Those who could began to abandon ship as more torpedoes struck home. Ensign Flaherty remained in one of the ship's turrets, providing light so that the turret crew could escape. When the Oklahoma rolled completely over, he was trapped inside the hull along with many others. Thirty-two crewmembers of the Oklahoma were rescued from inside the hull over the next few days, but Ensign Flaherty was not among them. For his heroic actions, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Ensign, U.S. Naval Reserve.

Place and date: Pearl Harbor, HI, 7 December 1941.

Citation: For conspicuous devotion to duty and extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. When it was seen that the U.S.S. Oklahoma was going to capsize and the order was given to abandon ship, Ens. Flaherty remained in a turret, holding a flashlight so the remainder of the turret crew could see to escape, thereby sacrificing his own life.


• The destroyer escort USS Flaherty (DE-135), commissioned in 1943 and decommissioned in 1946, was named in honor of Ensign Flaherty.

• American Legion Post 42 (Greenawalt-Flaherty) in Charlotte, MI, is partially named after Ensign Flaherty.

Death and Burial

Ensign Francis Charles Flaherty was killed in action on 7 December 1941. Overall, 429 men were entombed in the Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor, including Flaherty. The ship was raised for salvage in 1943, and the remains inside were eventually interred in mass graves marked "Unknowns" at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, HI. Flaherty's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at that cemetery.

A memorial headstone for Ensign Flaherty is located at Maple Hill Cemetery in his hometown of Charlotte, MI, in Section 3.


Honoree ID: 1389   Created by: MHOH




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