Navies are an important part of a nation’s military forces. They are needed to conduct warfare on open water and they are also needed to provide support to ground troops. Modern navies also have elements of air capabilities since carriers transport and launch jets for various missions.
Throughout time many navies have had their share of heroes in battle. These individuals usually rose to the occasion to fight against dangerous enemies and dangerous odds.
Here is a list of the greatest naval heroes in history.
10. Hyman Rickover
Hyman Rickover was a not a powerful naval combatant nor a mighty captain of a ship. As a matter of fact, he never fought any battles on the ocean or seas to save anyone. Rickover is being added to this list because he is considered the mastermind behind the modern nuclear navy. As a matter of fact he has been given the title Father of the Nuclear Navy.
Naval officers understand how critical his contribution to this branch of the armed forces were to nation. He is also the longest serving U.S. naval sailor in history. Rickover served the U.S. Navy for 63 years or most of his life. Yes, he was an officer but no he never fought any major battles where he had to do something dramatic to save lives or to change the course of war.
9. Alfred Thayer Mahan
Alfred Thayer Mahan was a great naval strategist. He lived during the 19th century and he formulated naval theories that still continue to impact the modern world. Mahan’s theories revolved around the use of naval technology and the naval arms race.
He believed that any country that could rapidly develop their navy and equip them with the best updated technology would be the superior fighting force on the open waters. Mahan’s theories are considered brilliant and many naval commanders and officers still learn from him in modern times.
They use his knowledge on how the navy should be operated and used in times of peace and war. By the way, Mahan was sent on missions but he was not considered a good naval captain. He wrecked to many ships through collisions. He never really fought in any major battles. However, his theories and strategies were extremely useful. Mahan influenced other great naval combatants through his work.
8. Matthew Perry
Matthew Perry came from a long line of sailors. When he was old enough he joined the navy, he became sailor. He soon worked his way through the ranks to become a captain and then admiral. Historically speaking, Matthew Perry’s claim to fame came when he commanded his fleet to put pressure onto Japan for the purpose of trade with the U.S.
He also fought the Battle of Lake Erie and was the younger sibling of Oliver Hazard Perry. Oliver also fought in the Battle of Lake Erie which helped the U.S. forces to get a victory over British forces. Ultimately, Matthew Perry was given the title The Father of the US Steam Navy. He also developed curriculum for the first U.S. Naval Academy. His influence is still being felt today.
7. Edward “Butch” O’Hare
Edward “Butch” O’Hare was a great sailor and navy pilot. His feats of heroism during the Second World War allowed him to earn the Medal of Honor. The world famous O’Hare Airport has even been named after him.
O’Hare managed to defend the USS Lexington against 6 enemy bombers that were trying to take out the carrier.
He was one of two pilots who were up in the air fighting against these enemy aircraft. The other pilot who was fighting with him had to land. His guns were jammed and O’Hare had to fight alone. O’Hare fought brilliantly and took out 5 of the 6 bombers and damaged the last remaining one. He saved the carrier from total destruction.
Believe it or not, O’Hare was a part of the mob in Chicago. He ran with Capone for a short time before they became rivals. However, O’Hare’s legacy will forever be established with the navy. He ended up being shot down in 1943.
6. Doris “Dorrie” Miller
Doris “Dorrie” Miller was an African-American sailor who was a cook. He was serving aboard the USS Virginia during World War II. He was stationed at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese fleet attacked this place in 1941. After the Japanese forces started to advance on the USS West Virginia they launched torpedoes at the ship to bring it down. The USS West Virginia was hit and badly damaged.
After the ship was struck, Miller quickly had to retaliate. He manned a .50 caliber machine gun and took out many Japanese aircraft and ships that were trying to sink his own. Once he ran out of ammo, he assisted the other crew members with the removal of injured sailors. He saved many more lives through this action. Miller went on to become a legendary naval man and was given the Navy Medal of Honor.
5. George Dewey
Admiral George Dewey was one of the most distinguished naval commanders within the U.S. Navy. He was a 6 star ranked commander known as the Admiral of the Navy. Dewey earned this rank because of his legendary battle skills. In the war against Spain at Manila Bay, commander Dewey destroyed the Spanish fleet. He also fought on the sea during the Civil War. Dewey had seen lots of combat action during his day and his remarkable feats as a sailor and naval commander helped him to become one of the greatest sailors in history.
4. Admirals King, Leahy, Nimitz, Halsey, World War II
During World War II, the U.S. naval forces were tied up and stretched to their limit. The U.S. government had to call in 4 admirals to help get the victory on two fronts. These 4 admirals increased the production of warships and they figured out important strategies for taking down the enemy. Admirals King, Leahy, Nimitz and Halsey focused their leaderships into different areas where they were needed the most. The results were a sound naval victory over Japan in the Pacific and the elimination of Axis powers in the Atlantic.
3. Oliver Hazard Perry
Oliver Hazard Perry was known as the Hero of Lake Erie. He had fought in the Battle of Lake Erie against British forces during the war of 1812. This particular battle was extremely important to the development of America. Perry had changed the course of war and caused the then powerful British fleet to be defeated.
He also caused many opposing American forces of that day to be defeated as well. He had fought many battles after defeating the British and his efforts helped American ground forces to wipe out all those who opposed him at the time. Oliver Hazard Perry also provided some great military quotes which includes “We have met the enemy and they are our”. He truly was a great naval warrior.
2. John Paul Jones
John Paul Jones is the first person in the U.S. to be called the Father of the U.S. Navy. He was instrumental in fighting the British during the Revolutionary War. His efforts helped to organize and implement the first naval forces within the United States. He too has a great quote which states: “I have not yet begun to fight!” This naval officer and sailor stood against great odds during his military campaigns and somehow managed to defeat his adversaries. He truly was one of the best heroes in the U.S. navy.
1. Stephen Decatur
Stephen Decatur was another great navy sailor who fought in early America. He had many sea battles during the Barbary Wars, the Quasi-War with France and in the War of 1812. Decatur was a tested ship captain who took on enemies and soundly defeated them. He was also an important figure who helped to organize the navy during his era. Decatur also helped the U.S. to be established as a rising power due to his heroics on the sea. He is considered one of the best naval commanders in the history of this country.
The sailors on this list were truly great and inspirational heroes that helped the U.S. Navy to become what it is today. They not only helped the navy to grow – they helped the United States to become the power that it is today.