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First Name: Donald

Last Name: Gary

Birthplace: Findlay, OH, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Arthur

Date of Birth: 23 July 1901

Date of Death: 09 April 1977

Rank or Rate: Commander

Years Served: 1919-1950
Donald Arthur Gary

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Donald Arthur Gary
Commander, U.S. Navy
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Commander Donald Arthur Gary (23 July 1901 - 9 April 1977) was an officer of the U.S. Navy who received the Medal of Honor for his heroic acts during World War II.

Donald Arthur Gary was born in Findlay, OH, on 23 July 1901. He enlisted in the Navy in December 1919 and served continuously in the enlisted ranks until November 1943, when he received a commission as a Lieutenant, Junior Grade. In 1943 and 1944, Lt (jg) Gary was assigned to the Third Naval District and as an inspector of machinery at the Babcock and Wilcox Company. In December 1944, he was sent to the aircraft carrier USS Franklin as an engineering officer.

When Franklin was severely damaged by Japanese air attack on 19 March 1945, Lt (jg) Gary discovered 300 men trapped in a blackened messing compartment and, finding an exit, returned repeatedly to lead groups to safety. Gary later organized and led fire-fighting parties to battle the inferno on the hangar deck and, braving extreme hazards, he entered number three fireroom to raise steam in one boiler. For his heroism, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Lieutenant, Junior Grade, U.S. Navy, USS Franklin.

Place and date: Japanese Home Islands near Kobe, Japan, 19 March 1945.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as an engineering officer attached to the U.S.S. Franklin when that vessel was fiercely attacked by enemy aircraft during the operations against the Japanese Home Islands near Kobe, Japan, 19 March 1945. Stationed on the third deck when the ship was rocked by a series of violent explosions set off in her own ready bombs, rockets, and ammunition by the hostile attack, Lt. (j.g.) Gary unhesitatingly risked his life to assist several hundred men trapped in a messing compartment filled with smoke, and with no apparent egress. As the imperiled men below decks became increasingly panic stricken under the raging fury of incessant explosions, he confidently assured them he would find a means of effecting their release and, groping through the dark, debris-filled corridors, ultimately discovered an escapeway. Stanchly determined, he struggled back to the messing compartment 3 times despite menacing flames, flooding water, and the ominous threat of sudden additional explosions, on each occasion calmly leading his men through the blanketing pall of smoke until the last one had been saved. Selfless in his concern for his ship and his fellows, he constantly rallied others about him, repeatedly organized and led fire-fighting parties into the blazing inferno on the flight deck and, when firerooms 1 and 2 were found to be inoperable, entered the No. 3 fireroom and directed the raising of steam in 1 boiler in the face of extreme difficulty and hazard. An inspiring and courageous leader, Lt. (j.g.) Gary rendered self-sacrificing service under the most perilous conditions and, by his heroic initiative, fortitude, and valor, was responsible for the saving of several hundred lives. His conduct throughout reflects the highest credit upon himself and upon the U.S. Naval Service.

Subsequently promoted to the ranks of Lieutenant and Lieutenant Commander, Gary remained with Franklin until she was decommissioned in February 1947. He was then assigned to the Naval Disciplinary Barracks at Terminal Island, CA, where he served until relieved of active duty pending retirement, which took place in June 1950. On the basis of his combat awards, he was advanced to the rank of Commander upon retirement.


In 1983, the guided missile frigate USS Gary (FFG-51) was named in honor of Donald A. Gary.

Death and Burial

Commander Donald A. Gary died on 9 April 1977. He is buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, San Diego County, CA, in Section A1, Grave 3B.

Honoree ID: 1405   Created by: MHOH




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