Evergreen Washelli Remembers Coxswain Harry Delmar Fadden

Harry Delmar Fadden (9/17/1882 – 2/2/1955) “A Medal of Honor,” excerpt from Our Naval Apprentice.

Harry Delmar Fadden (9/17/1882 – 2/2/1955) “A Medal of Honor,” excerpt from Our Naval Apprentice.

Harry Delmar Fadden was born in The Dalles, Oregon, on September 17, 1882, but moved with his mother to Chicago at an early age after his parents divorced. As a boy of only age 9, he traveled two thousand miles by himself to live with his father in Sumas, Washington. In 1898, 16-year-old Harry, whose father had been a Drummer Boy during the Civil War, joined the U.S. Navy, where he served during the Spanish American War, Philippine Insurrection, and Boxer Rebellion, all before his eighteenth birthday. Although the young Sailor had little formal education, his commanding officers noticed that he was a voracious reader and encouraged him to learn.

On June 30, 1903, Fadden was a Coxswain on board the USS Adams during a training cruise off the coast of California. They had been at sea for two days and Fadden was standing on the deck. He had watched as Landsman O.C. Hawthorne, a newcomer to the ship, climbed the ladder to his station above. The ship was about to make a turn when it lurched, pitching Hawthorne, who hit his head on the railing before landing unconscious in the shark-infested water. Without any hesitation twenty-year-old Fadden immediately jumped in after him. He used his long arms and legs to swim quickly to his shipmate’s side and then held the unconscious Sailor’s head above water while waiting the fifteen minutes or so that it took for the ship to turn back for them.

His citation reads, in part, “For gallantry, rescuing O.C. Hawthorne, landsman for training, from drowning at sea, June 30, 1903.” The Medal of Honor is our nation’s highest military decoration, making it quite rare indeed, but the fact that this award was issued for Coxswain Fadden’s extreme heroism during peacetime makes it even more extraordinary.

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