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First Name: Edward

Last Name: Gisburne

Birthplace: Providence, RI, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Allen

Date of Birth: 14 June 1892

Date of Death: 29 August 1955

Rank or Rate: Lieutenant

Years Served: 1910-14, 1917-20, 1942-45
Edward Allen Gisburne

•  Occupation of Veracruz (1914)
•  World War I (1914 - 1918)
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Edward Allen Gisburne

Lieutenant, U.S. Navy

Medal of Honor Recipient

Occupation of Veracruz

Lieutenant Edward Allen Gisburne (14 June 1892 - 29 August 1955) was a U.S. Navy officer who received the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during the Occupation of Veracruz. He earned the medal as an enlisted man for ignoring heavy fire and his own severe injuries to drag a wounded marine to safety.

Edward Allen Gisburne was born on 14 June 1892 in Providence, RI. He attended school in Quincy, MA. Edward came from a family with a tradition of naval service, with six generations having served in the Navy since the American Civil War. An only child, Gisburne's father died when he was five and his mother died months later. He eventually moved in with his paternal grandparents in Washington, DC, where he lived for the next ten years. In 1910, he graduated from Washington's McKinley Manual Training School. He held a childhood interest in electricity and later wireless telegraphy which led to a career in radio technology.

After his graduation, Gisburne worked for an electrical company in Boston for a few months before finding work at the Boston Navy Yard. While there, he and a group of friends decided on a whim to join the Navy; Gisburne enlisted for a four-year term of service on 30 August 1910. He was first stationed as a signaler on the battleship USS Wyoming (BB-32) and then on the supply ship USS Culgoa (AF-3).

Occupation of Veracruz and World War I

In early 1914, Gisburne, by then an Electrician Third Class, was transferred to the USS Florida  (BB-30) and became the battleship's chief radio operator. On 21 April 1914, in the midst of the ongoing Mexican Revolution, Florida was one of three U.S. Navy ships which landed a combined Navy and Marine Corps force at Veracruz, Mexico, in response to the Tampico Affair. The landings began a three-day battle which ended with U.S. occupation of the city.

Accompanying Florida's landing party, Gisburne and others made their way to the roof of Veracruz's Terminal Hotel in order to establish a communications station. When the position came under fire, a Marine Corps rifle squad was sent to provide protection. The first marine to reach the roof, Private Daniel A. Haggerty of Cambridge, MA, was almost immediately shot in the stomach and fell such that he was partially hanging off the roof. Gisburne himself was severely wounded in the legs, leaving him unable to walk. Despite this, he crawled through the continuous heavy fire to reach the unconscious Haggerty, pulled him fully onto the roof, and then dragged him to a place of shelter before falling unconscious himself. The two were found still sitting on the roof, with Haggerty dead in Gisburne's arms. Gisburne eventually recovered from his injuries, but his left leg had to be amputated at mid-thigh. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Veracruz two months after the battle, on 15 June, and was discharged from the Navy after a further two months, on 17 August.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Electrician Third Class, U.S. Navy

Citation: On board the U.S.S. Florida during the seizure of Vera Cruz, Mexico, 21 and 22 April 1914, and for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession during this action.

On 5 April 1917, exactly one day before the U.S. entered World War I by declaring war on Germany, Gisburne rejoined the Navy at the warrant officer rank of Gunner (radio). Due to his missing leg, he had to get a waiver from the Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, before he could re-join. He was promoted to the commissioned officer rank of Ensign on 12 January 1918 and to Lieutenant (J.G.) on 5 December of that year (retroactive to 20 November). A radio operator, Gisburne handled communications for all cruisers and transports operating in the Atlantic Ocean during the war. He was serving on the transport USS George Washington (ID-3018) when it carried President Woodrow Wilson to Europe for the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. Gisburne was given a medical retirement on 9 August 1920, two years after the end of the war.

Civilian Life

After his first enlistment in the Navy, Gisburne settled in Milton, MA, where he would live for 35 years. He married Ena Frye of Boston and the couple had two sons, Edward Jr. and John. He held a number of jobs, including as a teacher of classes about radio at Boston College; a reporter for The Patriot Ledger in Quincy; and as a district manager for the Boston Edison Company. He began a broadcasting career with radio station WEEI as an editor and from 1928 through the 1930s, as an announcer. Gisburne was an avid golfer with the Wollaston Golf Club and participated in the Engineers Club of Boston. He was also active in civic affairs, becoming a member of the Milton Town Club and twice being elected to the Milton School Committee in 1935 and 1938.

World War II

Despite being both an amputee and 50 years old, Gisburne began a third stint in the Navy after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. He served as a Lieutenant at Naval Air Station Quonset Point in Rhode Island. Both of his sons also served in the war. The older son, Edward Jr., fought in the Pacific theater with the 40th Bombardment Group and earned the Air Medal for his actions in aerial combat with the Japanese; he was killed in action at age 29 on 26 May 1945, when his B-29 Superfortress went down. Gisburne and his wife moved to Duxbury, MA, in 1950.

Death and Burial

Lieutenant Edward Allen Gisburne died at age 63 on 29 August 1955, at Chelsea Naval Hospital in Chelsea, MA. He is buried at Milton Cemetery in Milton, Norfolk County, MA, in Circle Avenue, Lot 3485.

The family plot at Milton Cemetery also includes the grave of his wife, Ena, and a memorial marker for his son, Edward Jr. He is one of two Medal of Honor recipients buried in the cemetery, the other being Indian Wars soldier, Paul H. Weinert.

Honoree ID: 1999   Created by: MHOH




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