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John King
Born (1865-02-07)February 7, 1865
Died May 20, 1938(1938-05-20) (aged 73)
Place of birth Ballinrobe, Ireland
Place of burial Hot Springs, Arkansas
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1893–1916, fl. 1917-1919
Rank Chief Watertender
Unit USS Vicksburg (PG-11)
USS Salem (CL-3)
Battles/wars Spanish-American War
Philippine-American War
World War I
Awards Medal of Honor (2)

John King (February 7, 1865 – May 20, 1938) was an Irish sailor in the United States Navy and one of only 19 in history to receive the Medal of Honor twice.


Born in the village of Currabee, near Ballinrobe (then in County Galway, now County Mayo), Ireland, King enlisted in the Navy as a coal passer in Vermont on July 20, 1893. He served on board USS Massachusetts in the Caribbean during the Spanish-American War, and, in 1900, was transferred to USS Vicksburg for service during the Philippine-American War. King received his first Medal of Honor while in Vicksburg "for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession at the time of the accident to the boilers... May 29, 1901." Eight years later, while a watertender on the USS Salem, King received a second Medal of Honor during another boiler explosion on September 13, 1909. Advanced to chief watertender on October 1, 1909, he continued to serve at sea until discharged in 1916. The beginning of World War I, however, brought Chief King back on active duty; he served at New York until August 20, 1919. He lived in retirement until his death on May 20, 1938.

He is buried in the Calvary Cemetery in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

On 4 September 2010, a statue of King was unveiled in Ballinrobe by Irish Minister of Defense Tony Killeen. Present at the cemetery was a relative, Ann Reid, whose father was King's nephew. She remarked, "My dad used to talk about him all the time. On his visits to Ballinrobe from America, he would throw sweets and coins to the children of the town." Pupils from Ballinrobe NS added a touch of naval flavour to the occasion by accompanying a float the Ballinrobe Scout group constructed of the destroyer USS John King to the ceremony, towed into the arena by a vintage tractor. Former crew members of the USS John King representing the USS John King association, participated in the ceremony and a unit of the U.S. Navy Band from Naples, Italy were also present.


USS John King (DDG-3) was named for him.

Medal of Honor citationEdit

1st Medal of HonorEdit

Rank and organization: Watertender, U.S. Navy. Born: February 7, 1865, Ireland. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 72, December 6, 1901. Second award.


On board the U.S.S. Vicksburg, for heroism in the line of his profession at the time of the accident to the boilers, 29 May 1901.

2nd Medal of HonorEdit

G.O. No.: 40, October 19, 1909.


Watertender, serving on board the U.S.S. Salem, for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession on the occasion of the accident to one of the boilers of that vessel, 13 September 1909.

See alsoEdit


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

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