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First Name: Owen

Last Name: Hammerberg

Birthplace: Daggett, MI, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)

Rating: Boatswain's Mate Petty Officer 2nd Class

Middle Name: Francis Patrick

Date of Birth: 31 May 1920

Date of Death: 17 February 1945

Rank or Rate: Petty Officer Second Class

Years Served: 1941-1945
Owen Francis Patrick Hammerberg

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Owen Francis Patrick Hammerberg
Boatswain's Mate Second Class, U.S. Navy
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Boatswain's Mate Second Class Owen Francis Patrick Hammerberg (31 May 1920 - 17 February 1945) was a U.S. Navy sailor and diver who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for rescuing two fellow divers during World War II.

Owen Francis Patrick Hammerberg was born on 31 May 1920 at Daggett, MI. His family later moved to Flint while he was young. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on 16 June 1941 and then served in battleship USS Idaho (BB-42) and mine sweeper USS Advent (AM-83). In 1941, he underwent instruction at the Deep Sea Diving School, Washington, DC, and was assigned duty with the Salvage Unit under Service Force, Pacific Fleet.

He lost his life during rescue operations at Pearl Harbor on 17 February 1945. Disregarding all personal danger, he rescued one diver who had been trapped in a cave-in of steel wreckage while tunneling under a sunken LST. After this rescue, Hammerberg went even farther under the buried hulk and, while rescuing a second diver, was pinned down by another cave-in and perished. Boatswain's Mate Hammerberg was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Boatswain's Mate Second Class, U.S. Navy.

Place and date: West Loch, Pearl Harbor, 17 February 1945.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a diver engaged in rescue operations at West Loch, Pearl Harbor, 17 February 1945. Aware of the danger when 2 fellow divers were hopelessly trapped in a cave-in of steel wreckage while tunneling with jet nozzles under an LST sunk in 40 feet of water and 20 feet of mud. Hammerberg unhesitatingly went overboard in a valiant attempt to effect their rescue despite the certain hazard of additional cave-ins and the risk of fouling his lifeline on jagged pieces of steel imbedded in the shifting mud. Washing a passage through the original excavation, he reached the first of the trapped men, freed him from the wreckage and, working desperately in pitch-black darkness, finally effected his release from fouled lines, thereby enabling him to reach the surface. Wearied but undaunted after several hours of arduous labor, Hammerberg resolved to continue his struggle to wash through the oozing submarine, subterranean mud in a determined effort to save the second diver. Venturing still farther under the buried hulk, he held tenaciously to his purpose, reaching a place immediately above the other man just as another cave-in occurred and a heavy piece of steel pinned him crosswise over his shipmate in a position which protected the man beneath from further injury while placing the full brunt of terrific pressure on himself. Although he succumbed in agony 18 hours after he had gone to the aid of his fellow divers, Hammerberg, by his cool judgment, unfaltering professional skill and consistent disregard of all personal danger in the face of tremendous odds, had contributed effectively to the saving of his 2 comrades. His heroic spirit of self-sacrifice throughout enhanced and sustained the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.


• In 1955, the destroyer escort USS Hammerberg (DE-1015) was named for him.

• A street in Flint, MI, is also named Hammerberg in his honor.

Death and Burial

Boatswain's Mate Second Class Owen Francis Patrick Hammerberg died while trying to save fellow divers on 17 February 1945. He is buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield, Oakland County, MI, in Section 4, Lot 145, Graves 4 & 5.

Honoree ID: 1425   Created by: MHOH




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