Henry Breault, First Submariner to Receive the Medal of Honor

Updated July 4, 2018 with a note at the bottom mentioning a pier being named for him.

I am working on a long blog post trying to find all 52 of the memorials dedicated to the World War II submarines that are on “Eternal Patrol.”  For those not familiar with the term, it means the submarines were lost and never made it back from patrol. If you have any information on the location of any of these 52 memorials, please let me know as it’s a slow process since I can’t find a single source that gives me the location of all 52 memorials.

In the process of looking for the locations, I came across a reference to the first submariner to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor: Henry Breault (1900 – 1941). He received it in peacetime (see below). You can visit his Find-A-Grave memorial at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/7836770/henry-breault. His headstone hasn’t been photographed on BillionGraves yet, but there is a photo request pending for it – https://billiongraves.com/cemetery/Saint-Mary-Cemetery/179263.

Here’s the information on his Medal of Honor: https://history.army.mil/moh/interim1920-40.html#BREAULT

BREAULT, HENRY

  • Rank and organization: Torpedoman Second Class, U.S. Navy
  • Accredited to: Vermont
  • G.O. No.: 125, 20 February 1924

Citation: For heroism and devotion to duty while serving on board the U.S. submarine 0-5 at the time of the sinking of that vessel. On the morning of 28 October 1923, the 0-5 collided with the steamship Abangarez and sank in less than a minute. When the collision occurred, Breault was in the torpedo room. Upon reaching the hatch, he saw that the boat was rapidly sinking. Instead of jumping overboard to save his own life, he returned to the torpedo room to the rescue of a shipmate whom he knew was trapped in the boat, closing the torpedo room hatch on himself. Breault and Brown remained trapped in this compartment until rescued by the salvage party 31 hours later. (Medal presented by President Coolidge at the White House on 8 March 1924.)

The citation is also listed a number of other places: http://www.cmohs.org/, specifically http://www.cmohs.org/recipient-detail/2478/breault-henry.php, http://www.homeofheroes.com/valor/01_MOH/imposters/roster_af.html which doesn’t give individual links, but you can scroll down this link until you find him: http://www.homeofheroes.com/valor/01_MOH/imposters/roster_af.html#B.

Henry died two days before Pearl Harbor. I found a newspaper article where he missed the first award ceremony on March 6,1924 because he missed the ship in Norfolk that was to take him to the ceremony. He made the second ceremony on March 8, 1924. I have not found an obituary for Henry.

In this article, a pier was named for him: http://militaryhonors.sid-hill.us/names/pier.htm.

 

 

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