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First Name: James

Last Name: Ward

Birthplace: Springfield, OH, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)

Rating: Seaman 1st Class

Home of Record: Cincinnati, OH
Middle Name: Richard

Date of Birth: 10 September 1921

Date of Death: 07 December 1941

Rank or Rate: Seaman

Years Served: 1940 - 1941
James Richard Ward

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


James Richard Ward

Seaman First Class, U.S. Navy

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Seaman First Class James Richard Ward (10 September 1921 - 7 December 1941) was a U.S. Navy sailor who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions on 7 December 1941, the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

James Richard Ward was born on 10 September 1921 in Springfield, OH. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy at Cincinnati, OH, on 25 November 1940. After basic training, he reported on board the battleship USS Oklahoma (BB-37).

The USS Oklahoma took three torpedoes soon after the attack began. She listed dangerously, and it was soon apparent that she would capsize. The order was given to abandon ship, but Seaman First Class Ward remained in a turret holding a flashlight, thus sacrificing his own life to permit other members of the crew to escape. For his heroism he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Seaman First Class, U.S. Navy.

Citation: For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his 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, Ward remained in a turret holding a flashlight so the remainder of the turret crew could see to escape, thereby sacrificing his own life.


In 1943, the destroyer escort USS J. Richard Ward (DE-243) was named in honor of Seaman First Class Ward.

Death and Burial

Seaman First Class James Richard Ward was killed in action on 7 December 1941. His body was never recovered; it is entombed in the wreckage of the USS Oklahoma. A memorial headstone for Seaman Ward is located at Ferncliff Cemetery in Springfield, OH.

Honoree ID: 1699   Created by: MHOH




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