Pearl Harbor Medal of Honor Recipient Signed Document


A fascinating and scarce document signed by Cassin Young, a graduate of the Naval Academy who was decorated with the Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism on December 7, 1941, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Only a few months later, while in command of a ship at the battle of Guadalcanal, Young was killed in action. For his valor in that engagement he was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.

The document is a 17 page transcript of a court martial at a U.S. Navy submarine base in the Canal Zone in 1920. Young was serving as one of the judges on the court martial board and he signed the transcript of the trial as did the other members of the board. The document bears the clear signature of an officer who was later decorated with the highest military awards that could be given, for heroism in two of the most pivotal events of the Second world War. In 1943 the U.S. Navy launched the destroyer “USS Cassin Young”, which would earn 7 battle stars in World War II and the Korean War. That ship is now a National Historic Landmark and is berthed across from the USS Constitution in Boston.

Young’s Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:
“For distinguished conduct in action, outstanding heroism and utter disregard of his own safety, above and beyond the call of duty, as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Vestal, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, by enemy Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. Commander Young proceeded to the bridge and later took personal command of the 3-inch antiaircraft gun. When blown overboard by the blast of the forward magazine explosion of the U.S.S. Arizona, to which the U.S.S. Vestal was moored, he swam back to his ship. The entire forward part of the U.S.S. Arizona was a blazing inferno with oil afire on the water between the two ships; as a result of several bomb hits, the U.S.S. Vestal was afire in several places, was settling and taking on a list. Despite severe enemy bombing and strafing at the time, and his shocking experience of having been blown overboard, Commander Young, with extreme coolness and calmness, moved his ship to an anchorage distant from the U.S.S. Arizona, and subsequently beached the U.S.S. Vestal upon determining that such action was required to save his ship.”

Promoted to Captain in February 1942, Young was given command of the heavy cruiser USS San Francisco. On 13 November 1942, during the Battle of Guadalcanal, he guided his ship into action with a superior Japanese force when he was killed by enemy shells while closely engaging the battleship Hiei. Young was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during the Guadalcanal Campaign, and the USS San Francisco received the Presidential Unit Citation.

The document shows the expected signs of being nearly a century old, with some edge tears and mild toning of the pages, but it is complete and Cassin Young’s signature remains bold and legible.

Item Number: 28402w Category: