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Compatriot Medal of Honor Recipients

Frank Friday Fletcher

Frank Friday Fletcher

Frank Friday Fletcher was born on November 23, 1855, in Oskaloosa, Iowa, and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1875. After his first cruise on the USS, he was commissioned an ensign in 1876. In 1878, he participated in a world cruise aboard the USS under Commodore Robert Wilson Shufeldt. Fletcher was later assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance where he developed the Fletcher breech mechanism that increased the speed of rapid-fire guns.

He developed the first doctrines for torpedo warfare while commanding the torpedo boat in 1893. In 1896, Fletcher was assigned to the battleship USS, but was absent when the ship was blown up in Havana Harbor in February 1898, triggering the Spanish-American War.

In 1910, he was appointed an aide to the secretary of the Navy. In October 1911, he was promoted to rear admiral and until 1913, commanded divisions of the Atlantic Fleet. In September 1914, Admiral Fletcher was named commander of the Atlantic Fleet and served as an admiral until the completion of that assignment.

As commander of U.S. Naval Forces on the east coast of Mexico in 1914, he occupied the city of Vera Cruz, and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic leadership. His citation reads “For distinguished conduct in battle, engagements of Vera Cruz, 21 and 22 April 1914. Under fire, Rear Adm. Fletcher was eminent and conspicuous in the performance of his duties; was senior officer present at Vera Cruz, and the landing and the operations of the landing force were carried out under his orders and directions. In connection with these operations, he was at times on shore and under fire.” Admiral Fletcher was awarded the Medal of Honor on December 4, 1915.

After returning to shore duty in June 1916 and returned to the rank of rear admiral, Fletcher served on the Navy General Board and on the War Industries Board during World War I until his retirement in 1919, earning Distinguished Service Medals from the Navy and the Army for his meritorious service during the First World War.

Admiral Fletcher was twice recalled for temporary active duty, and in 1925 sat on a board that explored how aircraft could be most effective in national defense.

Frank Friday Fletcher joined the District of Columbia SAR in 1909. His National number is 19721 and his D.C. Society number is 1096. He listed his residence as U.S. Navy and occupation as Naval Officer. His SAR patriot ancestor is Ensign Archibald Fletcher who served in the 3rd Company of the 2nd Battalion of the Bedford County Pennsylvania Militia. One of his supplemental SAR ancestors was Captain Samuel Miller who served with the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment in the Continental Line. While at Valley Forge, he was ordered on February 10, 1778, to Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, on recruiting duty. While returning, he was killed in a fight with the Indians on July 9, 1778. A second supplemental SAR ancestor was John Jack, a militiaman in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, in Captain Joseph Eager’s Company in Colonel Archibald Lackey’s Pennsylvania Regiment. Jack was wounded in the engagement at Ash Swamp during the Battle of the Short Hills in June 1777 near Woodbridge, New Jersey. In 1781, Jack served in Captain Andrew Searingen’s Company of Rangers on the frontier of Washington County, Pennsylvania.

The USS (DD-445), named for Admiral Frank F. Fletcher, was the lead Fletcher-class destroyer. The ship served in the Pacific during World War II. She received fifteen battle stars in World War II and five for Korean War service.

Admiral Fletcher’s nephew, Frank Jack Fletcher, was also awarded the Medal of Honor for distinguished conduct during the Vera Cruz operation, was the senior officer present during the battles of Coral Sea and Midway in World War II, and retired with the rank of admiral, passing away in 1973. The second USS (DD-992) was named in his honor.

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