b. 18/08/1890 Kansas City, Missouri. d. 15/07/1967 Toledo, Ohio.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 21/01/1915 USS San Diego, near La Paz, Bolivia.
Robert Cary was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He entered the University of Missouri in the fall of 1908 but left after the first semester of the following year and entered the United States Naval Academy where he graduated in 1914.
Scarcely a year after graduating the Naval Academy he received the Medal of Honor for action in a boiler explosion on board USS San Diego. He was standing by the first of five boilers that blew up and saved the lives of three men by dragging them out of the boiler room. He also took charge of the situation in the adjacent boiler room, putting out the fires and thus preventing the explosion of these boilers. He would not be awarded the Medal of Honor until 23 May 1934.
During World War I, Cary served on the destroyers based at Queenstown, Ireland. During World War I Cary was awarded the Navy Cross. During a hurricane, a depth charge on the fan-tail of USS Sampson broke loose, menacing the safety of the ship. Together, with three enlisted men, he went to the fan-tail, and they managed to secure this depth charge, including its safety pin, at a great risk of being washed overboard themselves.
During the years between World War I and World War II, Cary served in many capacities and many stations. He served as the Director of Base Maintenance and in the Office of Chief of Naval Operations where he initiated the establishment of bases at home and abroad at the commencement of World War II. Cary also served with great distinction in World War II when he took part in various campaigns in the European Theater of Operations. On September 11, 1943 Cary was involved in another dramatic naval action when the ship he was commanding, the USS Savannah, was struck by a German radio-controlled Fritz X glide-bomb. By the time Cary retired he had achieved the rank of Rear Admiral.
For extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession on the occasion of an explosion on board the U.S.S. San Diego, 21 January 1915. Lt. Comdr. Cary (then Ensign), United States Navy, an observer on duty in the firerooms of the U.S.S. San Diego, commenced to take the half-hourly readings of the steam pressure at every boiler. He had read the steam and air pressure on No. 2 boiler and was just stepping through the electric watertight door into No. 1 fireroom when the boilers in No. 2 fireroom exploded. Ens. Cary stopped and held open the doors which were being closed electrically from the bridge, and yelled to the men in No. 2 fireroom to escape through these doors, which 3 of them did. Ens. Cary’s action undoubtedly saved the lives of these men. He held the doors probably a minute with the escaping steam from the ruptured boilers around him. His example of coolness did much to keep the men in No. 1 fireroom at their posts hauling fires, although 5 boilers in their immediate vicinity had exploded and boilers Nos. 1 and 3 apparently had no water in them and were likely to explode any instant. When these fires were hauled under Nos. 1 and 3 boilers, Ens. Cary directed the men in this fireroom into the bunker, for they well knew the danger of these 2 boilers exploding. During the entire time Ens. Cary was cool and collected and showed an abundance of nerve under the most trying circumstances.
BURIAL LOCATION: ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA.
SECTION 6 LOT 5695-G
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.