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Howard Walter Gilmore
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Howard Walter Gilmore (September 29, 1902 – February 7, 1943) was a submarine commander in the United States Navy who received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroic self-sacrifice during World War II.

Howard Gilmore was born in Selma, Alabama, September 29, 1902 and enlisted in the Navy November 15, 1920. In 1922 he was appointed to the United States Naval Academy by competitive examination.[1] Standing 34 in a class of 436, Gilmore was commissioned in 1926[1] and reported to the battleship USS Mississippi (BB-41). Gilmore underwent submarine training in 1930 and in the years that followed served in various submarines and at stations ashore.[2]
Gilmore served as the executive officer of USS Shark (SS-174), and in a near-fatal incident during Shark’s shakedown cruise, narrowly survived an assault by a group of thugs in Panama, who cut his throat during an excursion ashore.[1] In 1941, he assumed his first command, USS Shark (SS-174), only to be transferred the day following the attack on Pearl Harbor to take command of the still-unfinished USS Growler (SS-215).[2]
Gilmore commanded his submarine skillfully during four Pacific war patrols. During his first, on 5 July 1942 Growler attacked three enemy destroyers off Kiska, sinking one and severely damaging the other two, while narrowly avoiding two torpedoes fired in return, for which Gilmore received the Navy Cross.
On his second patrol, Growler sank four merchant ships totaling 15,000 tons in the East China Sea near Taiwan. Gilmore received a gold star in lieu of a second Navy Cross.
In October 1942, Growler patroled off of Truk in the Caroline Islands in a repositioning of submarine assets on the way to Brisbane, Australia. No significant action occurred.[3]

USS Growler (SS-215) at Brisbane, Australia, for repairs to her bow, after she rammed a Japanese patrol vessel in the Bismarck Islands on 7 February 1943

The submarine continued to take a heavy toll of shipping on her fourth war patrol, and on the night of 6–7 February 1943, she approached a convoy stealthily for a surface attack. Suddenly a fast gunboat, Hayasaki, closed and prepared to ram. As the small ship charged out of the darkness, Gilmore sounded the collision alarm and shouted, “Left full rudder!” — to no avail. Perhaps inadvertently, Growler hit the Japanese adversary amidships at 17 knots (31 km/h), heeling the submarine 50 degrees, bending 18 feet of her bow sideways to port, and disabling the forward torpedo tubes.

Medal of Honor Action

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The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
to

*GILMORE, HOWARD WALTER

Simultaneously, the Japanese crew unleashed a burst of machine gun fire at Growler’s bridge, killing the junior officer of the deck and a lookout,[4] while wounding Gilmore himself and two other men. “Clear the bridge!” Gilmore ordered as he struggled to hang on to a frame. As the rest of the bridge party dropped down the hatch into the conning tower, the executive officer, Lieutenant Commander Arnold Schade — shaken by the impact and dazed by his own fall into the control room — waited expectantly for his captain to appear. Instead from above came the shouted command: “Take her down!” Realizing that he could not get himself below in time if the ship were to escape, Gilmore chose to make the supreme sacrifice for his shipmates. Schade hesitated briefly — then followed his captain’s last order and submerged the crippled ship.
Surfacing some time later in hope of reattacking the Hayasaki, Schade found the seas empty. The Japanese ship had, in fact, survived the encounter, but there was no sign of Gilmore, who apparently had drifted away in the night. Schade and Growler’s crew managed to control the ship’s flooding and limped back to Brisbane on February 17.
For sacrificing his own life to save his ship, commander Howard Gilmore was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, “the first man of the submarine force to be so decorated.”[5]
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