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First Name: William

Last Name: Rush

Birthplace: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Home of Record: PA
Middle Name: Rees

Date of Birth: 19 September 1857

Date of Death: 02 August 1940

Rank or Rate: Captain

Years Served: 1877-1916, 1917-1919
William Rees Rush

•  Spanish-American War (1898)
•  Occupation of Veracruz (1914)
•  World War I (1914 - 1918)


William Rees Rush

Captain, U.S. Navy

Medal of Honor Recipient

Occupation of Veracruz

Captain William Rees Rush (19 September 1857 - 2 August 1940) 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 also served during the Spanish-American War and World War I.

William Rees Rush was born on 19 September 1857 in Philadelphia, PA. He took the oath of office as a midshipman on 6 June 1872; graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy on 20 June 1877; and was commissioned an Ensign on 15 October 1881. Between that time and the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in April 1898, Rush served in the gunboats USS Nantucket and USS Bennington; the protected cruiser USS Boston; and the research ship USS Albatross. He also received instruction in ordnance at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, DC; worked in the Navy Hydrographic Office; completed the course of instruction at the Naval Torpedo Station at Newport, RI; and attended the Naval War College at Newport.

Spanish-American War

During the Spanish-American War in 1898, Rush served as a turret division commander in the armored cruiser USS Brooklyn, the flagship of Rear Admiral Winfield S. Schley's Flying Squadron during blockade operations off Cienfuegos, Cuba, and participated in the Battle of Santiago de Cuba on 3 July 1898.

Service, 1899-1914

Detached from Brooklyn in October 1899, Rush went to sea in the battleship USS Massachusetts (BB-2) as executive officer. He later commanded the gunboat USS Marietta and served as executive officer in the protected cruiser USS Albany.

In the ensuing years, Rush again alternated tours of duty afloat with assignments ashore. He served at the Boston Navy Yard in Boston, MA, in the equipment department and at the Naval War College and travelled to the Philippines where he became Captain of Cavite Navy Yard in February 1906. In June 1907, he assumed command of the gunboat USS Wilmington, the first of a series of successive sea commands that included Ranger; battleships USS Missouri (BB-11) and USS Connecticut (BB-18); troop transport USS Hancock (AP-3); armored cruiser USS Washington  (ACR-11); and battleship USS Florida (BB-30) and the First Division of the U.S. Fleet.

Occupation of Veracruz

While commanding Florida, Rush was given command of the naval brigade that went ashore at Veracruz, Mexico, during the landings there in April 1914 at the height of a diplomatic crisis between Mexico and the United States. When Rush led the brigade ashore on 21 April 1914, he and his men met heavy resistance. Rush was wounded in the early fighting but continued to direct the efforts of his brigade. For his conduct during the Veracruz landings, Captain Rush received the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Navy

Citation: For distinguished conduct in battle, engagements of Vera Cruz, 21 and 22 April 1914. In command of the naval brigade, Capt. Rush was in both days' fighting and almost continually under fire from soon after landing, about noon on the 21st, until we were in possession of the city, about noon of the 22d. His duties required him to be at points of great danger in directing his officers and men, and he exhibited conspicuous courage, coolness and skill in his conduct of the fighting. Upon his courage and skill depended in great measure success or failure. His responsibilities were great, and he met them in a manner worthy of commendation.

Boston Navy Yard and World War I service

Rush took command of the Boston Navy Yard on 6 November 1914, a post he held until he requested retirement on 9 October 1916. However, with the onset of World War I in April 1917, Rush was recalled to active duty and was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions as commandant of the Boston Navy Yard during World War I. Rush was relieved of all active duty on 25 July 1919.


Rush subsequently lived in retirement in Italy.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Navy Cross
Distinguished Service Medal


• During World War II, the U.S. Navy destroyer escort USS William R. Rush (DE-288) was named for Captain Rush. Her construction was cancelled in March 1944.

• The destroyer escort USS William R. Rush (DE-556) then was named for Rush. Her construction was cancelled in June 1944.

• The destroyer USS William R. Rush (DD-714), in commission from 1945 to 1978, was named in his honor.

Death and Burial

Captain William Rees Rush died at Pallanza, Italy, on 2 October 1940. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, in Section 3, Grave 3977, Map Grid U-16.

Honoree ID: 2021   Created by: MHOH




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