Oscar Nate Schmidt Jnr MOH

b. 25/03/1896 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. d. 24/03/1973 Somers Point, New Jersey.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 09/10/1918 at sea.

Oscar Schmidt MOH

Schmidt was born in Philadelphia on March 25, 1896. He joined the Navy in 1913 and remained in until 1919. During World War I, he served on the fuel ship USS Chestnut Hill.

On October 9, 1918, the ship was part of a convoy crossing the Atlantic for war in Europe when disaster struck.  The Chestnut Hill was fueling submarine chaser 219 near the Azores when there was an explosion in the small ship’s forward tanks. The blast threw several crew members into the air and required the chaser to be abandoned.

Schmidt, watching from the Chestnut Hill, saw a man whose legs had been partly  blown off while hanging on a line from the bow of the chaser. Schmidt jumped overboard, swam to the man and carried him from the bow to the stern. There, a member of the chaser’s crew helped him put the injured man on the submarine’s afterdeck.

Schmidt then tried to push his way toward the middle of the ship to get another man who was seriously burned, but the flames from the explosion were too hot to pass through. Schmidt eventually saw the man fall overboard, and when he drifted toward the stern, Schmidt grabbed the man and helped him aboard.

For his heroic deeds, Schmidt received the Medal of Honor on March 15, 1919. He also received the Italian War Cross. After the war, Schmidt left the Navy and moved to York, Pennsylvania, where his father bought him a house in 1920. By then he was married to Helen Goldey, and they had two sons, Robert and Wesley. Both boys went on to serve in the military as well, in the Navy and Air Force, respectively.

Schmidt’s wife, Helen, died in 1951. That same year, he switched careers, buying and operating the Hotel Lincoln in York. Schmidt was a member of the Army and Navy Legion of Valor. In May 1958, he joined dozens of other Medal of Honor recipients at a Memorial Day ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, where he met President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Schmidt continued working in the hotel industry until 1963 when he moved to Somers Point, New Jersey. There, he married a woman named Louise.

Schmidt died in Somers Point on March 24, 1973, a day before his 77th birthday. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.



For gallant conduct and extraordinary heroism while attached to the U.S.S. Chestnut Hill, on the occasion of the explosion and subsequent fire on board the U.S. submarine chaser 219. Schmidt, seeing a man, whose legs were partly blown off, hanging on a line from the bow of the 219, jumped overboard, swam to the sub chaser and carried him from the bow to the stern where a member of the 219’s crew helped him land the man on the afterdeck of the submarine. Schmidt then endeavored to pass through the flames amidships to get another man who was seriously burned. This he was unable to do, but when the injured man fell overboard and drifted to the stern of the chaser Schmidt helped him aboard.