John King MOH

b. 07/02/1862 Ballinrobe, County Mayo, Ireland. d. 20/05/1938 Hot Springs, Arkansas.

DATE OF MOH ACTIONS: 29/05/1901 USS Vicksburg, Philippines

13/09/1909 USS Salem, at sea.

John King MOH

Born in the village of Currabee, near Ballinrobe (then in County Galway, now County Mayo), Ireland, King was allegedly involved in an incident at Cornmarket Ballinrobe, a result of which he was being sought by the R.I.C. (Royal Irish Constabulary). He walked 18 miles to Tuam County Galway and took the train, rather than going from Ballinrobe railway station, eventually arriving in then Queenstown, now Cobh County Cork. He then worked for his passage to the USA. King later enlisted in the Navy as a coal passer in Vermont on 20 July 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.” It was presented to him in December 1901. Eight years later, while a watertender on the USS Salem, King received a second Medal of Honor during another boiler explosion on 13 September 1909. He received his second Medal of Honor at The White House from President William H. Taft on October 19, 1909. Advanced to chief watertender on 1 October 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 in New York until 20 August 1919.

In January 1960 a US navy destroyer was launched and named USS John King (DDG-3). It paid a visit to Dublin, Ireland in December 1961 under the command of Commander Albert.M. Sackett, who subsequently unveiled a plaque in remembrance of John King at Ballinrobe, County Mayo, Ireland. Members of the Burke and Flannery families, living relatives of John King attended. Some members of the Burke and Flannery families from Ballinrobe were hosted on board the John King at Dublin.

On 4 September 2010, a statue of King was unveiled in Ballinrobe by Irish Minister of Defense Tony Killeen. Present at the ceremony 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.”



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


Second Award: 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.