John King

United States Navy

John King
T. Beckett Collection
Navy Medal of Honour
commons.wikimedia.org
USS Salem
commons.wikimedia.org
Bower Walk Ballinrobe
T. Beckett Collection

United States Navy

This United States Navy sailor has had a ship named after him the ‘USS John King.’  He was one of the few double recipients of the Nation’s highest award.

John King was born on the 7th February 1865 in Currabee, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo.  His father was Michael a farmer, his mother was Ellen Flannery of Cushlough. (Averil Staunon 18th March 2011) [i]

John King was born on 7th February 1865 in County Mayo Ireland [ii]

John King was born in the village of Currabee, near Ballinrobe (then in County Galway, now County Mayo.) [iii]

Emigration

He emigrated to the U.S. during 1886.  Later he received two Congressional Medals for bravery from the United States Navy. (Averil Staunon 18th March 2011) [iv]

He then worked for his passage to the USA. In the United States he enlisted in the U.S. Navy from the State of New York as a coal passer in Vermont on 20th July 1893.  This page features the only image we have that concerns John King.[v]

Marriage

King married Delia Mc Kenna during 1920.  Her family owned a licensed premises in Ballinrobe.  When her demise occurred during 1936 John King returned to the States. (Averil Staunon 18th March 2011) [vi]

Career

John King enlisted in the United States Navy in Vermont on 20th July 1893.  He served on USS Massachusetts in the Caribbean during the Spanish – American War between April – August 1898.  He served on the USS Vicksburg during the Philippine – American War during 1900.  He worked in the boiler rooms of thirteen other naval vessels as a water tender advancing to chief water tender on 1st October 1909.  King was discharged in 1916 but then re -called during WW1.  He served in New York City Receiving Station up to 20th August 1919.  He was added to the Navy Retirement list during 1926. (Averil Staunon 18th March 2011) [vii]

Wars

He served on board USS Massachusetts in the Caribbean during the Spanish – American War in 1900.  During the Spanish – American War he served on board the battleship Massachusetts.  He was transferred to USS Vicksburg subsequently he was employed a Watertender on board the gunboat Vicksburg during the Philippine – American War.[viii]

Promotion

John King was advanced to Chief Watertender on 1st October 1909.[ix]

A few weeks later King was advanced to the rank of Chief Water Tender.  He was honourably discharged in 1916 but was recalled to active duty during World War I.  He served in the New York area until August 1919. [x]

Honours

John King received his first Congressional Medal, signed by President Theodore Roosevelt “for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession at the time of the accident to the boilers.” on 29th May 1901. (Averil Staunon 18th March 2011) [xi]

First Medal Citation

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor (First Award) to Watertender John King United States Navy for extraordinary heroism in the line of his Profession while serving on board the U.S.S. Vicksburg at the time of the accident to the boilers on 29th May 1901. (Awarded 6 December 1901) [xii]

On September 13th 1909 as a water tender on the USS Salem King received a second Medal of Honour signed by President William H. Taft for “extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession on the occasion of the accident to one of the boilers of that vessel” during another boiler explosion aboard his ship.  (Averil Staunon 18th March 2011) [xiii]

Second Medal Citation

The President of the United States of America in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor (Second Award) to Watertender John King, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession while serving as Watertender on board the U.S.S. Salem on the occasion of the accident to one of the boilers of that vessel that occurred on 13th September 1909. (Awarded 19 October 1909) [xiv]

Several Awards

John King was awarded the Sampson Medal, Spanish Campaign Medal, Philippine Campaign Medal also the World War I Victory Medal.[xv]

Further Service

John King continued to serve at sea until he discharged in 1916.  The beginning of World War I however brought Chief John King back on active duty.  He served in New York area until 20th August 1919.[xvi]

USS John King

The vessel ‘USS John King’ (DDG-3) 1961 – 1999 a guided missile armed destroyer was named in honour of Chief Water Tender John King.  It was commissioned during 1961. (Averil Staunon 18th March 2011) [xvii]

Retirement

John King lived at Veterans hospital retirement in Hot Springs, Arkansas. (Averil Staunon 18th March 2011) [xviii]

John King’s retirement was spent at a hospital in Hot Springs, Arkansas.[xix]

Demise

Following an accident John King’s demise occurred on 20th May 1938 at a Veterans hospital in Hot Springs.  He is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Arkansas. (Averil Staunon 18th March 2011) [xx]

John King’s demise occurred on 20th May 1938.  He is buried in the Calvary Cemetery in Hot Springs, Arkansas.[xxi]

Tributes

The USS John King (DDG -3) a guided missile armed destroyer was named after him, commissioned during 1961. On the 4th  September 2010 a seven – foot Bronze Statue was unveiled of John King.  It was sculpted by Artist Rick Lewis at Cornmarket in Ballinrobe by the Minister for Defence Tony Killeen.  Former crew members from the USS John King participated in the Ceremony while a U.S. Navy Band from Naples, Italy was also present.  Minister Killeen stated that ‘I am honoured to be here today to unveil the John King Memorial.  It is a fitting tribute to honour such a remarkable man. John King received the Congressional Medal of Honour on two occasions.  It is America’s most important award to a person during their lifetime.  His story is truly a fascinating one.’ (Averil Staunon 18th March 2011) [xxii]

On 4th September 2010 a statue of  John King was unveiled in Ballinrobe by Irish Minister of Defense Tony Killeen.  Members of the Burke and Flannery families living relatives of John King attended.  Present at the ceremony was a relative Ann Reid (her father was John King’s nephew.)  She recalled thatMy dad used to talk about him all the time.  On his visits to Ballinrobe from America, he would throw sweets & coins to the children of the town.’  Michael Burke Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin (originally from Cavan Ballinrobe Co. Mayo) a living relative participated at the unveiling.  He recalled the times he as a young man met also ran errands for John King.  Former crew members of the ‘USS John King’ represented the USS John King Association when they participated in the Ceremony also a unit of the U.S. Navy Band from NaplesItaly were also present.  Pupils from Ballinrobe National School added a touch of naval flavour to the occasion.  They accompanied a float the Ballinrobe Scout group had constructed of the destroyer  ‘USS John King’ for the ceremony that was towed into the arena by a vintage tractor.[xxiii]

Footnote

This site describes the medals that John King was awarded:https://www.history.navy.mil/our-collections/photography/us-people/k/king-john/nh-105348.html

This may be of interest: ‘USS John King’ in the ‘Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships’ Naval Historical Centre United States Navy (Retrieved 29 September 2010):https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_King_(Medal_of_Honor)

This site has information on John King:https://mohmuseum.org/john-king-and-henry-hogan-two-irish-double-recipients/

A list of Heroes includes John King at this site: https://homeofheroes.com/medal-of-honor/

These links detail the ‘USS John King’ travels etc: https://www.history.navy.mil/our-collections/photography/us-navy-ships/alphabetical-listing/j/uss-john-king–ddg-3-0.html  / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_John_King

This link references John King: https://web.archive.org/web/20060430232025/http://www.thewildgeese.com/pages/mdohhome.html

Averil Staunton referenced on 19th March 2011 the Statue during its construction pre-installed at Cornmarket to John King. She included images of Artist at this link: http://www.historicalballinrobe.com/page_id__82.aspx?path=0p4p

On 3rd July 2012 Maureen Dowd, a Pulitzer Prize winner laid a wreath at the John King Memorial in Ballinrobe. (Averil Staunon 18th March 2011) [xxiv]

Ciara Galvin mentions the Pulitzer Prize Winner &New York Times OP-Ed Columnist Maureen Dowd who laid a wreath at the statue of John King in Cornmarket.  She formally launch the town’s first heritage walk: https://www.mayonews.ie/news/15586-pulitzer-prize-winner-launches-new-ballinrobe-walk

During January 1960 a US navy destroyer was launched and named USS John King (DDG-3).  It paid a visit to Dublin in December 1961 under the Command of Commander Albert. M. Sackett, who subsequently unveiled a plaque in remembrance of John King at Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo.  Several members of the Burke & Flannery families from Ballinrobe were hosted on board the John King at Dublin.[xxv]

Billy Horan in ‘The Mayo News’ 14th July 2020 stated that on American Independence Day 4th  July 2020 John King was acknowledged by Ballinrobe Tidy Towns Committee when members planted two flower pots at the side of his statue in Cornmarket in the colours of the U. S. Flag.  He said John King was twice awarded the Congressional Medal of Honour for extraordinary heroism while he served in the American Navy during 1901 & 1909.

Bibliography

[i] John King (http://www.historicalballinrobe.com/page_id__81.aspx) [assessed 19th December 2014]

[ii] John King (https://www.history.navy.mil/our-collections/photography/us-people/k/king-john.html) [assessed 19th December 2014]

[iii] John King (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_King_(Medal_of_Honor) [assessed 19th December 2014]

[iv] John King (http://www.historicalballinrobe.com/page_id__81.aspx) [assessed 19th December 2014]

[v]John King  https://mohmuseum.org/medal_of_honor/king-john/) [assessed 19th March 2022]

[vi] John King (http://www.historicalballinrobe.com/page_id__81.aspx) [assessed 19th December 2014]

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] John King (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_King_(Medal_of_Honor) [assessed 19th December 2014]

[ix] Ibid.

[x] John King  https://mohmuseum.org/medal_of_honor/king-john/) [assessed 19th March 2022]

[xi] John King (http://www.historicalballinrobe.com/page_id__81.aspx) [assessed 19th December 2014]

[xii] John King  https://mohmuseum.org/medal_of_honor/king-john/) [assessed 19th March 2022]

[xiii] John King (http://www.historicalballinrobe.com/page_id__81.aspx) [assessed 19th December 2014]

[xiv] John King  https://mohmuseum.org/medal_of_honor/king-john/) [assessed 19th March 2022]

[xv] John King (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_King_(Medal_of_Honor) [assessed 19th December 2014]

[xvi] John King  https://mohmuseum.org/medal_of_honor/king-john/) [assessed 19th March 2022]

[xvii] John King (http://www.historicalballinrobe.com/page_id__81.aspx) [assessed 19th December 2014]

[xviii] Ibid.

[xix] John King (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_King_(Medal_of_Honor) [assessed 19th December 2014]

[xx] John King (http://www.historicalballinrobe.com/page_id__81.aspx) [assessed 19th December 2014]

[xxi] John King (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_King_(Medal_of_Honor) [assessed 19th December 2014]

[xxii] John King (http://www.historicalballinrobe.com/page_id__81.aspx) [assessed 19th December 2014]

[xxiii] John King (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_King_(Medal_of_Honor) [assessed 19th December 2014]

[xxiv] John King (http://www.historicalballinrobe.com/page_id__81.aspx) [assessed 19th December 2014]

[xxv] John King (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_King_(Medal_of_Honor) [assessed 19th December 2014]

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