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eMedals-United States. A Purple Heart to Submariner, Fireman I Class Schmidt, USNR, USS Herring KIA

Item: AZ110

United States. A Purple Heart to Submariner, Fireman I Class Schmidt, USNR, USS Herring KIA


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United States. A Purple Heart to Submariner, Fireman I Class Schmidt, USNR, USS Herring KIA

Two-piece construction, in bronze gilt with purple, red, white and green enamels, engraved "CHARLES A SCHMIDT F1c USNR" on the reverse, measuring 34.7 mm (w) x 43 mm (h), original ribbon with brooch pinback, intact enamels, scattered gilt wear, near extremely fine. In its hardshelled case of issue, marked "PURPLE HEART" on the lid, soiled medal bed, light soiling and edge wear on the exterior, case very fine. Accompanied by a United States Navy Submarine Combat Patrol Badge (in sterling silver, maker marked "AMICO" and marked 'STERLING" on the reverse, measuring 56.5 mm (w) x 13 mm (h), horizontal pinback).

Footnote: Charles Augustus Schmidt was born on January 22, 1923 in Romania, the only son of Mr. and Mrs. John Schmidt, the family later immigrating to the United States. The family settled in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, where he attended Turtle Creek High School, where he played both football and basketball, followed by his graduation. Schmidt was living and working for the Kilbey Manufacturing Company in Cleveland, Ohio, prior to joining the United States Navy (service number 615 52 60). After his naval training, he was assigned to the S-class submarine, USS S-44 (SS-155). USS S-44 was preparing to begin its fifth patrol, arriving at Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska on September 16, 1943. On September 26th, she departed Attu on her last war patrol. One day out, while en route to her operating area in the northern Kuril Islands, she was spotted and attacked by a Japanese patrol plane. Suffering no damage, she continued west. On the night of October 7th, she made radar contact with what she thought was a "small merchantman" and closed for a surface attack. Several hundred yards from the target, her deck gun fired and was answered by a salvo. The "small merchantman" in fact was the Shimushu-class escort Ishigaki. An emergency dive was ordered, but the submarine failed to submerge. She then took several hits in the control room, below the waterline in the after battery room, and elsewhere. Reluctantly, USS S-44 was ordered abandoned, with Schmidt being one of fourteen survivors. He was subsequently re-assigned to the Gato-class submarine USS Herring (SS-233), the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for the herring. USS Herring’s eighth war patrol was to be both her most successful and her last, captained by Lieutenant Commander David Zabriskie, Jr.. Topping off at Midway Island on May 21, 1944, USS Herring headed for the Kurile Islands patrol area. Ten days later, she rendezvoused with another Gato-class submarine, the USS Barb (SS-220). Afterwards, USS Herring was never heard from or seen again. However, Japanese records confirm that USS Herring sank two ships, Ishigaki and Hokuyo Maru, on the night of May 30-31. Ishigaki had been responsible for the sinking of USS S-44 (SS-155) on October 7, 1943. USS Herring's exact manner of loss can also be determined from these records. Two more merchant ships, Hiburi Maru and Iwaki Maru, were sunk while at anchor in Matsuwa Island on the morning of June 1, 1944. In a counter-attack, enemy shore batteries scored two direct hits on the submarine's conning tower and "bubbles covered an area about five meters wide, and heavy oil covered an area of approximately fifteen miles." On her last patrol, USS Herring had sunk four Japanese ships for a total of 13,202 tons. In all she had sunk six marus totaling 19,959 tons, and a Vichy cargo ship. Japanese information also indicates that USS Herring was sunk on June 1, 1944, two kilometers south of Point Tagan on Matsuwa Island in the Kuriles. As both submarines were the only American ones in the area at the time, and USS Barb did not make the attack on the anchored ships, the USS Herring was credited with the four kills and would receive five battle stars for her Second World War service. Fireman First Class Charles Augustus Schmidt was serving aboard the USS Herring (SS-233) when it was attacked on June 1, 1944 near Point Tagan, Matsuwa Island, Kuriles. He was Killed in Action, at the age of 21, along with the rest of the crew. Schmidt is remembered with honor at the Courts of the Missing, Honolulu Memorial in Honolulu, Honolulu County, Hawaii and was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. An announcement appeared in the Pittsburgh Press of Wednesday, February 13, 1946, stating a memorial service was to be held for him on the upcoming Sundayat Forest Hills Presbyterian Church. The official notice of his death had been received that week by his parents, as he had been previously reported missing in action as of July 5, 1944, when the USS Herring failed to return from a Pacific patrol between Matsuwa and Japan. There is a memorial plaque at the Naval Weapons Station in Seal Beach, California, and another one, along with the ship's bell, at Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, Alabama. In 2016, the wreck of USS Herring was located near Matua Island by a joint expedition of the Russian Geographical Society and Russian Defence Ministry. Aleksandr Kirillin, secretary of the academic board of Russia’s Military Historical Society, said that "Russian divers in co-operation with the Pacific Fleet sailors discovered the submarine at a depth of 104 meters".
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