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Charles Kleinsmith

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Charles Kleinsmith
Born(1904-09-28)September 28, 1904
Zionville, Pennsylvania
DiedJune 4, 1942(1942-06-04) (aged 37)
Pacific Ocean, near Midway Atoll
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Navy
Years of service1922–1926, 1928-1942
RankChief Watertender
UnitVarious, including USS Wyoming (BB-32), USS Maryland (BB-46), USS Milwaukee (CL-5), USS Cincinnati (CL-6), USS Portland (CA-33), USS Honolulu (CL-48), USS Saratoga (CV-3), and USS Yorktown (CV-5)
Battles/warsWorld War II
*Battle of Midway
AwardsNavy Cross

Charles Kleinsmith (September 28, 1904 – June 4, 1942) was a Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy who was missing and presumed dead in action during the Battle of Midway in World War II.


Charles Kleinsmith was born on September 28, 1904 in Zionsville, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the United States Navy on October 26, 1922 as an apprentice seaman. Until honorably discharged on October 5, 1926 as fireman second class, he served on board several ships, including the battleships Wyoming (BB-32) and Maryland (BB-46).

Kleinsmith reenlisted in the Navy on December 20, 1928, and during the next 11 years he had duty on board the light cruisers USS Milwaukee (CL-5) and USS Cincinnati (CL-6), the heavy cruiser USS Portland (CA-33), and the light cruiser USS Honolulu (CL-48). He reported aboard the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) on December 27, 1939, and transferred to the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5) on October 31, 1940. He achieved the rank of chief watertender.

During the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942, Chief Watertender Kleinsmith maintained auxiliary power on Yorktown after an intense Japanese bombing attack extinguished the fires in all of her boilers but one. Despite the stifling fumes, intense heat, and imminence of explosion, he performed courageously, enabling the aircraft carrier to attain the speed necessary for launching planes to oppose a Japanese aerial torpedo attack. At the end of the attack, Kleinsmith was missing and presumed dead.


Kleinsmith was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.


The destroyer escort USS Kleinsmith (DE-376) was named for Chief Kleinsmith in 1944, but construction of the ship was cancelled a week later.

The name was reassigned to another destroyer escort, USS Kleinsmith (DE-718). Before launching, Kleinsmith was redesignated as a Crosley class fast transport and converted accordingly. She was in commission as the fast transport USS Kleinsmith (APD-134) from 1945 to 1960.

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  • This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

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