John Arnold Austin
John Arnold Austin
|Born||August 30, 1905|
|Died||December 7, 1941 (aged 36)|
Killed during the Attack on Pearl Harbor
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1920–1941|
|Unit||USS Oklahoma (BB-37)|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
John Arnold Austin (30 August 1905 – 7 December 1941) was a United States Navy sailor in World War II, who received the Navy Cross (awarded posthumously) for his actions during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Austin was born in Warrior, Alabama. He enlisted in the United States Navy on 20 November 1920 at age 15. Between that time and 26 July 1935, he served four successive enlistments. Serving as a Carpenter's Mate 3rd Class (Petty officer third class), he reported on board the submarine tender Canopus then serving as a unit of the Asiatic Fleet. He detached from the tender and reported for duty on Augusta. On 4 December 1935, Austin was advanced to Chief Carpenters Mate (Chief Petty Officer). Detached from the heavy cruiser on 13 July 1937 and reported on board Tennessee on 10 September 1937. He served in that battleship until detached on 14 June 1939 to proceed to further assignment to Rigel reporting on 18 July 1939. After 14 months on that destroyer tender, CPO Austin departed on 21 September 1940 bound for duty in Oklahoma and reported on board the battleship on 5 October 1940. In October 1941, Austin he received a commission as a (Chief Warrant Officer, W-2).
Death at Pearl Harbor
On the morning of 7 December 1941, Chief Warrant Officer Austin was on board Oklahoma. The battleship, which was the first to be attacked by the Japanese on Battleship Row, capsized in only 15 minutes due to damage it received from torpedoes and bombs. Austin along with many crew members were trapped within the ship as it keeled over. After searching for a means of escape, he found a porthole beneath the surface that offered a way out. He assisted 15 sailors in escaping from the sunken Oklahoma. However Chief Warrant Officer Carpenter Austin failed to get out.
Austin's remains were originally among those buried in the Halawa Naval Cemetery and Nu'uanu Cemetery on Oahu. After the war concluded, those remains were disinterred as part of an effort to identify individuals. Still unidentified, his were among the remains of 45 crew members from the Oklahoma that were buried under a shared marker at the National Cemetery of the Pacific. New forensic technologies led to the resumption of efforts to identify those remains in 2015. Carpenter Austin's remains were identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in September 2018.
The citation for his posthumous Navy Cross reads:
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Chief Carpenter John Arnold Austin (NSN: 75565), United States Navy, for exceptional courage, presence of mind, and devotion to duty and disregard for his personal safety while serving on board the Battleship U.S.S. OKLAHOMA (BB-37), during the Japanese attack on the United States Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, on 7 December 1941. When the U.S.S. OKLAHOMA capsized, Chief Carpenter Austin and a number of the crew were entrapped in one of the ship's compartments. By his efforts, a porthole which was under water was located and he assisted fifteen of the crew to escape. The conduct of Chief Carpenter Austin throughout this action reflects great credit upon himself, and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
The escort destroyer USS Austin (DE-15), commissioned in 1943, was named in his honor.
- Battleship Row
- List of United States Navy ships present at Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941
- Gore, Leada (2019-01-09). "WWII remains identified: Alabama sailor John Austin credited with saving 15 lives at Pearl Harbor". Birmingham News. Birmingham, Alabama. Retrieved 2019-01-11.
- "USS Oklahoma Sailor Accounted For From World War II (Austin, J.)" (Press release). Washington D.C. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. 2019-01-08. Retrieved 2019-01-11.
- "John Arnold Austin". Military Times. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
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