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John Mihalowski
Chief Torpedoman John Mihalowski, January 19, 1940
Born (1910-08-12)August 12, 1910 or 1911[1]
Died October 29, 1993(1993-10-29)
Place of birth Worcester, Massachusetts
Place of burial Serenity Gardens Memorial Park,
Largo, Florida
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1927 - c. 1958
Rank Lieutenant Commander
Unit USS Falcon (ASR-2)
USS Shackle (ARS-9)
USS Gypsy (ARSD-1)
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Medal of Honor

Secretary of the Navy Charles Edison congratulates four divers of the Squalus rescue and salvage operations after presenting them with Medals of Honor. The four men are (from left to right) William Badders, John Mihalowski, Orson L. Crandall, and James H. McDonald

John Mihalowski (August 12, 1910 or 1911[1] – October 29, 1993) was a United States Navy diver and a recipient of America's highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor.


John Mihalowski enlisted in the Navy from his home state of Massachusetts in December 1927, rising to the rank of Chief Torpedoman during the next decade. Trained as a diver in 1932-33, he served with the Experimental Diving Unit from 1933 to 1937 and then as a member of the crew of USS Falcon (ASR-2) into 1941. While serving in the Falcon, he played an important role in the rescue of survivors of USS Sailfish (SS-192) and the subsequent salvage of that submarine in 1939. For his conduct during that effort, Chief Torpedoman Mihalowski was awarded the Medal of Honor. Three others divers also received Medals of Honor for assisting in the Squalus rescue and salvage. The four men were presented with their medals during a ceremony at the Navy Department offices on January 19, 1940.

In 1942, Mihalowski was appointed a warrant officer and became a commissioned officer later in World War II. He participated in rescue and salvage operations on six tank landing ships that had exploded in Pearl Harbor in 1944, and, while executive officer of USS Shackle (ARS-9), on damaged ships during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. Following the war, he took part in the harbor clearance in Japan and in salvage efforts during the 1946 Operation Crossroads atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. He was executive officer of the salvage lifting vessel USS Gypsy (ARSD-1) from 1947 to 1948, before transferring to the Fleet Reserve in January 1948.

Recalled to active duty in September 1950 as a Chief Torpedoman, Mihalowski was reinstated as a Lieutenant the following year. He was assigned to the Naval Gun Factory, Washington, D.C., in 1952 and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander in February 1954. LCdr. John Mihalowski retired from active naval service in about 1958.

Mihalowski died around age 82 or 83 and was buried in Serenity Gardens Memorial Park, Largo, Florida.

Medal of Honor citation

Chief Torpedoman Mihalowski's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

For extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession during the rescue and salvage operations following the sinking of the U.S.S. Squalus on 23 May 1939. Mihalowski, as a member of the rescue chamber crew, made the last extremely hazardous trip of the rescue chamber to attempt to rescue any possible survivors in the flooded after portion of the Squalus. He was fully aware of the great danger involved, in that, if he and the other member of the crew became incapacitated, there was no way in which either could be rescued. During the salvage operations Mihalowski made important and difficult dives under the most hazardous conditions. His outstanding performance of duty contributed much to the success of the operations and characterizes conduct far above and beyond the ordinary call of duty.

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Naval History & Heritage Command.


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Navy records his birth date as August 12, 1910 (see here and here), but his grave marker reads August 12, 1911 (see "John Mihalowski". Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients. Find a Grave. Retrieved 2008-02-01. )

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