Bigelow, Elmer Charles, WT1c

Fallen
 
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Last Rank
Petty Officer First Class
Last Primary Designator/NEC
WT-0000-Water Tender
Last Rating/NEC Group
Water Tender
Primary Unit
1943-1945, WT-0000, USS Fletcher (DD-445)
Service Years
1942 - 1945
WT-Water Tender

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Illinois
Illinois
Year of Birth
1920
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Richard Hopka (SW)(AW)(FMF), HM1 to remember Bigelow, Elmer Charles, PO1.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address
HEBRON, IL

Casualty Date
Feb 15, 1945
 
Cause
Hostile, Died of Wounds
Reason
Burns
Location
Philippines
Conflict
World War II
Location of Interment
Linn-Hebron Cemetery - Hebron, Illinois
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 




 Unofficial Badges 




 Military Association Memberships
World War II FallenUnited States Navy Memorial The National Gold Star Family RegistryWW II Memorial National Registry
Congressional Medal Of Honor Society
  2014, World War II Fallen [Verified]
  2014, United States Navy Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page
  2014, The National Gold Star Family Registry
  2014, WW II Memorial National Registry
  2014, Congressional Medal Of Honor Society


 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
He enlisted in the Naval Reserve at Chicago, Illinois in September 1942 and received training at Naval Station Great Lakes in North Chicago, Illinois, and at Lawrence, Kansas, before being assigned as a Fireman Third Class on board the destroyer USS Fletcher (DD-445) in June 1943. While serving in that ship, he advanced in rate to watertender second class.

On February 14, 1945, Bigelow's actions averted tragedy on board the USS Fletcher. While assisting minesweeping operations prior to landings on Manila Bay's Corregidor Island, Fletcher was hit by an enemy shell which penetrated the No. 1 gun magazine, igniting several powder cases. Bigelow picked up a pair of fire extinguishers and rushed below in a resolute attempt to quell the raging flames. Refusing to waste the precious time required to don rescue-breathing apparatus, Bigelow plunged through the blinding smoke billowing out of the magazine hatch and dropped into the blazing compartment. Despite the acrid, burning powder smoke which seared his lungs, he succeeded in quickly extinguishing the fires and in cooling the cases and bulkheads, thereby preventing further damage to the ship. However Bigelow was badly injured and succumbed to his injuries the following day.

Bigelow was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity". 
   
Comments/Citation

 
Name of Award
Navy Medal of Honor

Year Awarded
1945
 
Details behind Award:
Awarded for actions during the World War II

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Watertender First Class Elmer Charles Bigelow (NSN: 7250227), United States Naval Reserve, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving on board the U.S.S. FLETCHER (DD-445) during action against enemy Japanese forces off Corregidor Island in the Philippines, 14 February 1945. Standing topside when an enemy shell struck the FLETCHER, Watertender First Class Bigelow, acting instantly as the deadly projectile exploded into fragments which penetrated the No. 1 gun magazine and set fire to several powder cases, picked up a pair of fire extinguishers and rushed below in a resolute attempt to quell the raging flames. Refusing to waste the precious time required to don rescue-breathing apparatus, he plunged through the blinding smoke billowing out of the magazine hatch and dropped into the blazing compartment. Despite the acrid, burning powder smoke which seared his lungs with every agonizing breath, he worked rapidly and with instinctive sureness and succeeded in quickly extinguishing the fires and in cooling the cases and bulkheads, thereby preventing further damage to the stricken ship. Although he succumbed to his injuries on the following day, Watertender First Class Bigelow, by his dauntless valor, unfaltering skill and prompt action in the critical emergency, had averted a magazine explosion which undoubtedly would have left his ship wallowing at the mercy of the furiously pounding Japanese guns on Corregidor, and his heroic spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of almost certain death enhanced and sustained the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.

Action Date: February 14, 1945
Service: Navy
Rank: Watertender First Class
Division: U.S.S. Fletcher (DD-445)
   
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 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1942, Recruit Training (Great Lakes, IL)
 Duty Stations
USS Fletcher (DD-445)
  1943-1945, WT-0000, USS Fletcher (DD-445)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1945 World War II
  1943-1943 Asiatic-Pacific Theater/New Georgia Group Operation
  1943-1944 Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Northern Solomon Islands Campaign (1943-44)
  1943-1944 Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Northern Solomon Islands Campaign (1943-44)
  1944-1944 Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Mariana and Palau Islands Campaign (1944)
  1944-1944 Luzon Campaign (1944-45)/Battle of Mindoro
  1944-1945 Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Luzon Campaign (1944-45)
  1945-1945 Luzon Campaign (1944-45)/Battle of Bataan, Recapture
  1945-1945 Luzon Campaign (1944-45)/Battle of Corregidor
 Other News, Events and Photographs
 
  Namesake - USS Bigelow (DD-942)1
  Feb 15, 2014, General Photos4
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