Wednesday, April 25, 2012

USS Huron ~ Crew Bios

Seaman Antonio Williams was born in 1825 in Valletta, Southern Harbour, Malta and joined the U.S. Navy after emigrating to the United States. He served as a Seaman and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery on 24 Nov 1877, "For courage and fidelity displayed in the loss of the USS Huron". 
     The steam gunboat USS Huron had been driven aground off the coast of Nags Head, NC by heavy weather after departing from Virginia on a scientific cruise of the coast of Cuba. Early in the morning of November 24, after the crew had made efforts to free her, the weather and sea worsened, the ship overturned, and 98 members of the officers and crew perished. 
     Seaman Williams left the ship, going into the dangerous waves to run a safety line to the shore. Despite being bruised, battered and nearly drowned when his small life raft capsized four times, he managed to pull four of his fellow crew members out of the churning sea when the vessel finally overturned. 
     He was awarded the U.S. Navy Peacetime Congressional Medal of Honor in 1879 for his efforts to try and save the ship and crew. After he was discharged in 1891, he married an Englishwoman and moved to Bristol, England where he died on 21 Jul 1908 and is buried at the Greenbank Cemetery.
     The wreck of the USS Huron lies 200 yards from the Nags Head beach and is a protected wreck site on the National Register of Historic Places.
     Seaman Williams was interviewed by The Sailors Magazine in 1889. You can read that story by clicking HERE. Learn more about Steve Lovell's quest to restore Williams' dilapidated grave by clicking HERE.

Thanks to Steve Lovell for sharing Seaman Williams' heroic story.


Ensign Fredrick William Danner was born on 7 Oct 1851 in Wedowes, Alabama. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy 15 Oct 1874 and later lost his life when the the USS Huron sank off the coast of North Carolina on 24 Nov 1877. He is buried at the Hillside Cemetery in Cortlandt Manor, NY.
     Even though the Huron was only 200 yards from the beach, the heavy surf, strong currents and cold temperature prevented most of the crew members from attempting the swim to shore. Most of the crew tried to remain on the ship in the hope that help would arrive. However, no one came to the aid of the sailors: lifesaving stations had been closed until December.    
     The elements eventually took their toll on the storm battered men. Many lost their strength and were washed overboard by waves. One huge wave swept at least 12 sailors away at one time. In all, 98 men lost their lives during the night.

Thanks to Gene Baumwoll for finding Ensign Danner.

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