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First Name: Albert

Last Name: Rooks

Birthplace: Colton, WA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Home of Record: Annapolis, MD
Middle Name: Harold

Date of Birth: 29 December 1891

Date of Death: 01 March 1942

Rank or Rate: Captain

Years Served: 1914 - 1942
Albert Harold Rooks

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1914

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Albert Harold Rooks

Captain, U.S. Navy

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Captain Albert Harold Rooks (29 December 1891 - 1 March 1942) was a U.S. Navy officer who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during World War II.

Albert Harold Rooks was born in Colton, WA, on 29 December 1891. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy as a Midshipman on 13 July 1910 and was commissioned in the rank of Ensign upon graduation 6 June 1914. During the next seven years, including the World War I years of 1917-18, he served in several ships, including USS West Virginia (ACR-5) and USS St. Louis (C-20). He commanded the submarines USS Pike (SS-6); USS B-2 (SS-11); USS F-2 (SS-21); and USS H-4 (SS-147).

In 1921 Lieutenant Rooks joined the staff of the Twelfth Naval District, at San Francisco, CA, remaining there until 1925; the year he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander. He next spent three years on board the battleship USS New Mexico (BB-40), followed by duty at the U.S. Naval Academy. In 1930, he helped commission the new cruiser USS Northampton (CA-26) and served on her until 1933, when he returned to the Naval Academy for a second tour.

In February 1936 Commander Rooks placed the new destroyer USS Phelps (DD-360) in commission and remained as her Commanding Officer until 1938. His next assignment was as a student at the Naval War College, and, upon completion of his studies, he served on that institution's staff. He was promoted to the rank of Captain on 1 July 1940, while still at the War College. In 1941 Rooks took command of the heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA-30), flagship of the Asiatic Fleet. He took his ship through the painfully difficult first three months of the Pacific War, when the Asiatic Fleet and its British and Dutch counterparts fought desperately against an over-whelming Japanese onslaught into Southeast Asia, the Philippines and the East Indies. Both Houston and her Commanding Officer were lost in the Battle of Sunda Strait on 1 March 1942. Captain Rooks was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his acts of heroism during that battle.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Navy.

Citation: For extraordinary heroism, outstanding courage, gallantry in action and distinguished service in the line of his profession, as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Houston during the period 4 to 27 February 1942, while in action with superior Japanese enemy aerial and surface forces. While proceeding to attack an enemy amphibious expedition, as a unit in a mixed force, Houston was heavily attacked by bombers; after evading 4 attacks, she was heavily hit in a fifth attack, lost 60 killed and had 1 turret wholly disabled. Capt. Rooks made his ship again seaworthy and sailed within 3 days to escort an important reinforcing convoy from Darwin to Koepang, Timor, Netherlands East Indies. While so engaged, another powerful air attack developed which by Houston's marked efficiency was fought off without much damage to the convoy. The commanding general of all forces in the area thereupon canceled the movement and Capt. Rooks escorted the convoy back to Darwin. Later, while in a considerable American-British-Dutch force engaged with an overwhelming force of Japanese surface ships, Houston with H.M.S. Exeter carried the brunt of the battle, and her fire alone heavily damaged 1 and possibly 2 heavy cruisers. Although heavily damaged in the actions, Capt. Rooks succeeded in disengaging his ship when the flag officer commanding broke off the action and got her safely away from the vicinity, whereas one-half of the cruisers were lost.


In 1944, the destroyer USS Rooks (DD-804) was named in honor of Captain Rooks.

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers maintains Rooks Park, five miles east of Walla Walla, WA, named in honor of Captain Rooks.

Death and Burial

Captain Albert Harold Rooks was killed in action on 1 March 1942. He was buried at sea.

Captain Rooks' name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Manila, Manila City, Philippines.

Honoree ID: 1621   Created by: MHOH




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