If you think this is confusing...try researching and writing about him!
When I introduced John last week I noted that he had two terms of service with the US Navy from around 1909 till about 1912. Years later, on filling out a daft card for WWI service he would claim having already served 3 1/2 years.
In that later year he would marry for the first time in New Jersey. Yet at the time he was as living in Milwaulkee Wisconsin. Military records for unknown reasons credit his later Medal of Honor to New Jersey. This may be where he started his naval career, or joined a 2nd or 3rd time. Regardless, It would be on one of the first 2 terms that he apparently decided to leave the navy without the navy's approval.
In December of 1917, whilst with the above record standing, he somehow managed to sign up for a 3rd term with the US Navy.
The US built but Norwegian owned cargo carrying auxiliary schooner Hjeltenaes was afire near a railway bridge close to the naval yard. On arrival he climbed aboard and rescued one of the crew from his quarters and brought him to safety. He then returned a second time and rescued another crewman. On his 3rd trip into the blaze, a steam pipe broke and trapped him inside. He passed out and needed rescue himself. Finally hauled to safety, they thought he was dead but performed first aid all night and luckily he recovered.
Last week I gave a little of the history of this version of the medal and stated that it was not very popular with the military and ultimately was replaced with the original version, with minor alterations. The records are not very good on the issuing of this medal and some say there may only be less than 30 ever issues. Since only three of these went to men who earned the medal for actions NOT in the face of the enemy... like in John's case, this medal is one of the 3 and thus very rare.
I should also mentioned that this medal of Honor is NOT the original awarded to John. It is a duplicate or replacement medal.
The orginal needs a medal detector to locate. With a very long arm.. even longer than the famous "Canadarm Arm" A lot longer... hehe.
But more on that next Sunday.