John Mihalowski MOH

b. 12/08/1910 Worcester, Massachusetts. d. 29/10/1993 Largo, Florida.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 23/05/1939 Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

John Mihalowski MOH

John Mihalowski was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, the son of Polish immigrants; the surname was also spelled Michalowski.

He enlisted in the Navy in December 1927, rising to the rank of Chief Torpedoman during the next decade. Trained as a diver in 1932-33, he served with the Experimental Diving Unit from 1933 to 1937 and then as a member of the crew of USS Falcon (ASR-2) into 1941. While serving in the Falcon, he played an important role in the rescue of survivors of USS Sailfish (SS-192) and the subsequent salvage of that submarine in 1939. For his conduct during that effort, Chief Torpedoman Mihalowski was awarded the Medal of Honor. Three other divers also received Medals of Honor for assisting in the Squalus rescue and salvage. The four men were presented with their medals during a ceremony at the Navy Department offices on January 19, 1940. They were presented by the Secretary for the Navy, Charles Edison.

In 1942, Mihalowski was appointed a warrant officer and became a commissioned officer later in World War II. He participated in rescue and salvage operations on six tank landing ships that had exploded in Pearl Harbor in 1944, and, while executive officer of USS Shackle (ARS-9), on damaged ships during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. Following the war, he took part in the harbour clearance in Japan and in salvage efforts during the 1946 Operation Crossroads atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. He was executive officer of the salvage lifting vessel USS Gypsy (ARS(D)-1) from 1947 to 1948, before transferring to the Fleet Reserve in January 1948.

Recalled to active duty in September 1950 as a Chief Torpedoman, Mihalowski was reinstated as a Lieutenant the following year. He was assigned to the Naval Gun Factory, Washington, D.C., in 1952 and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander in February 1954. LCdr. John Mihalowski retired from active naval service in about 1958.



For extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession during the rescue and salvage operations following the sinking of the U.S.S. Squalus on 23 May 1939. Mihalowski, as a member of the rescue chamber crew, made the last extremely hazardous trip of the rescue chamber to attempt the rescue of any possible survivors in the flooded afterportion of the Squalus. He was fully aware of the great danger involved, in that, if he and the other member of the crew became incapacitated, there was no way in which either could be rescued. During the salvage operations Mihalowski made important and difficult dives under the most hazardous conditions. His outstanding performance of duty contributed much to the success of the operations and characterizes conduct far above and beyond the ordinary call of duty.