John King US Navy

Congressional Medal of Honour - US Navy
By Averil Staunton

John King was born in Currabee, Ballinrobe just about a mile outside the town off  the Kilmaine Road in 1862 and, like so many more young people, emigrated to the United States as a young man.    He enlisted in the American Navy in 1893 where he spend 26 years from 1893 to 1919.   John King 1865 – 1938 is only one of nineteen men that received two Congressional Medals of Honour from the US Navy.  

He first served on the USS Vicksburg, and was aboard that vessel when she participated in ADM. Dewey’s victory at Manila Bay. He worked in the boiler rooms of 13 other naval vessels, amongst them the USS Massachusetts based in the Caribbean during the Spanish – American War.    

In 1900, he served during the Philippine-American War on the Vicksburg and in 1916 he was discharged, but was recalled in 1917 following the outbreak of World War One.   He served two more years at the Navy receiving station in New York City.    He received his final discharge in 1919, and was added to the navy retirement list in 1926.

His first Congressional Medal award came in 1901 serving on the USS Vicksburg. The citation, signed by then president Theodore Roosevelt reads as follows:

“Onboard the USS Vicksburg, for heroism in the line of his profession, at the time of the accident to the boilers, 29th May 1901.”

The second medal of honour was awarded in 1901, by President William H. Taft and the citation reads similarly to the first:

“Onboard the USS Salem for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession on the occasion of the accident to one of the boilers of that vessel 13th September 1909.”

John King died in 1938 in the USA and is buried in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

The US guided missile armed destroyer, the USS John King (DDG-3) was named after him, and was commissioned in 1961.

The seven-foot bronze statue at Cornmarket, Ballinrobe was sculpted by the well known and popular sculpture Rick Lewis, who lives locally, and was erected in  2010.    Some of Rick’s work is owned by Queen Elizabeth 11 and two Presidents of Ireland amongst many other world renowned figures.

Photo:War Hero, U.S. Navy Chief Water Tender John King, 1865-1938

War Hero, U.S. Navy Chief Water Tender John King, 1865-1938

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Photo:A Medal of Honor is on the left in the top row of medals worn by King in this portrait photograph, which was probably taken soon after the first World War.

A Medal of Honor is on the left in the top row of medals worn by King in this portrait photograph, which was probably taken soon after the first World War.

Donor

Photo:USS John King commissioned in 1961

USS John King commissioned in 1961

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Photo:Memorial Stone, Calvary Cemetery, Hot Springs, USA

Memorial Stone, Calvary Cemetery, Hot Springs, USA

Donor

Photo:John King sculpture on Cornmarket, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo

John King sculpture on Cornmarket, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo

Averil Staunton

This page was added by Averil Staunton on 18/03/2011.

Comments about this page

We also want to thank Tom and Mary and the Town of Ballinrobe for inviting us to the John King Statue Dedication. As a Plankowner I was one of the original Ships Commisioning crew on the ships first visit to Ireland. My wife Arlyne wish to thank all who accepted us as part of your community.

By Paul Kovar Plankowner
On 07/04/2014

I was a crew member on the USS JOHN KING DDG-3 and I am also an active member of the JOHN KING ASSOCIATION. 

I have met Tom and some of his family in past years and he is quite a person.

I know how hard he has worked on this project! Keep up the great work Tom.

By Jerry Wagner
On 20/03/2014

I am a former crew member of the USS John King; a grand ship. 

We were honoured to be invited to Ireland by Tom and his wonderful wife Mary. A wonderful trip and an unbelievable experience.. 

Thank you all once again.

By Ralph and Jan Gross
On 20/03/2014

I went to Hot Springs last year to see John King's final resting place. His gravestone has been cleaned to a spotless shine!!

By John Cunningham
On 27/06/2012

Congrtulations to Tom Tiernan on his dedication to the completion of John King memorial project.

By Hugh McTigue
On 09/09/2011

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