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First Name: Herbert

Last Name: Schonland

Birthplace: Portland, ME, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Home of Record: Annapolis, MD
Middle Name: Emery

Date of Birth: 07 September 1900

Date of Death: 13 November 1984

Rank or Rate: Rear Admiral

Years Served: 1925 - 1947
Herbert Emery Schonland

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Herbert Emery Schonland

Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Rear Admiral Herbert Emery Schonland (7 September 1900 - 13 November 1984) was a U.S. Navy officer and a recipient of the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during World War II.

Herbert Emery Schonland was born in Portland, ME, on 7 September 1900 and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, in 1925. On 12 November 1942, he was serving as a Lieutenant Commander on the USS San Francisco (CA-38). On that day, the San Francisco was heavily damaged during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal and began taking on water. Schonland, as the damage control officer, worked through the night to stop the flooding and save the ship.

His actions during this emergency demonstrated his acumen. The ship had taken 85 hits in excess of five inches just above the water line and was leaking badly. At a key point during the effort to keep it from sinking, Schonland realized that the pumps for the second deck were inadequate to remove the water, but that the vessel had much higher capacity bilge pumps. So he called down to the engine room to arrange for all the bilge pumps to be pumping at full capacity, and the crew there ready for an immense amount of water. He then opened the hatches to the lower decks. This served the additional purpose of lowering the center of gravity of the ship, thus increasing its stability during the effort to save it. For his heroism he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Commander, U.S. Navy, USS San Francisco.

Place and date: Savo Island, 12-13 November 1943.

Citation: For extreme heroism and courage above and beyond the call of duty as damage control officer of the USS San Francisco in action against greatly superior enemy forces in the battle off Savo Island, 12-13 November 1942. In the same violent night engagement in which all of his superior officers were killed or wounded, Lt. Comdr. Schonland was fighting valiantly to free the San Francisco of large quantities of water flooding the second deck compartments through numerous shell holes caused by enemy fire. Upon being informed that he was commanding officer, he ascertained that the conning of the ship was being efficiently handled, then directed the officer who had taken over that task to continue while he himself resumed the vitally important work of maintaining the stability of the ship. In water waist deep, he carried on his efforts in darkness illuminated only by hand lanterns until water in flooded compartments had been drained or pumped off and watertight integrity had again been restored to the San Francisco. His great personal valor and gallant devotion to duty at great peril to his own life were instrumental in bringing his ship back to port under her own power, saved to fight again in the service of her country.

Schonland reached the rank of Rear Admiral before leaving the Navy.


The U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer School's Damage Control School in Newport, RI, was named Schonland Hall in his honor. It is unusual for buildings to be named for someone who is still alive and, in this case the event occurred near the end of his lifetime, yet he was alert enough to understand and participate in the process. There was no previous person who had ever been awarded the Medal of Honor for damage control. (John Carlton-Foss reporting a personal communication with Andrew Sims, Schonland's son-in-law.)

Death and Burial

Rear Admiral Herbert Emery Schonland died on 13 November 1984 at age 84. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA. His grave can be found in section 7-A, grave 168, not far from the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Honoree ID: 1636   Created by: MHOH




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