MacKenzie, John S., CPO

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Last Rank
Chief Boatswain's Mate
Last Primary NEC
BM-0000-Boatswain's Mate
Last Rating/NEC Group
Boatswain's Mate
Primary Unit
1917-1918, BM-0000, USS Remlik - SP-157
Service Years
1902 - 1918
BM-Boatswain's Mate

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Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Gregg Baitinger, BM1 to remember MacKenzie, John S. (MOH), CPO.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Last Address
Holyoke, Massachusetts

Date of Passing
Dec 26, 1933
Location of Interment
Forestdale Cemetery - Holyoke, Massachusetts
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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Last Known Activity

Born at Bridgeport, Connecticut, MacKenzie enlisted in the Navy at Springfield, Massachusetts, on December 20, 1902 and had attained the rate of Coxswain before his discharge on July 6, 1907. He engaged in the auto accessory business in Springfield, but reenlisted in the Navy in 1917, when the United States entered World War I.

While serving on board USS Remlik (SP-157) during a storm in the Bay of Biscay, MacKenzie observed a depth charge adrift on the ship's after deck. At great risk to his life, he took prompt and effective action to secure the explosive weapon, thus preventing the "probable loss of the ship and the entire crew". For his heroism on that occasion, Chief Boatswain's Mate John MacKenzie was awarded the Medal of Honor.

After the end of the First World War, John MacKenzie returned to civilian life and subsequently entered the restaurant business.

Other Comments:

Letter from John MacKenzie, describing the incident for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor-

10 Bolton St
So.Hadley Falls, Mass.,

September 28, 1922

Mr. H. Reutewahl {possibly Henry Reuterdahl, the artist}
Lieut. Comm. U. S. N. R.F. Retd.,
800 Boulevard E.,
Weehawken, N.J.

It has taken me some little time to make up my mind as to whether or not to write giving you the information which you requested in your letter of September 8th, and have decided that what I think of the affair personally must take second place when the traditions of the Navy are considered. To begin with, I wish to state that I did not consider that my act warranted the award of the Medal of Honor, but as my Commanding Officer, Isaac C. Johnson, thought differently I decided to abide by his decision.

 You are no doubt familiar with weather conditions in the Bay of Biscay during the month of December and I would like to give you some idea of conditions existing when my little affair took place. We left Queiberon Bay at 4 P.M. December 15, 1917 with north bound convoy for Brest and Channel Ports. The convoy consisted of 45 ships and the patrol. A north easter was kicking things up in good style when we cleared Belle Isle and by 7 P.M. the entire convoy had vanished from sight. We had in the Remlik a sturdy little craft and she managed to worry along through the night and all of the following day. By the night of the 16th we had about worn ourselves out and the battering the Remlik was receiving did not help matters any.

 About 7:30 A.M. December 17, 1917, the lookout aloft forward sighted a periscope on our starboard beam at about 500 yards distance. I was standing on the Bridge talking with Captain Johnson when General Quarters sounded. As I had charge of the Machine Guns and there was no chance to use them owing to the seas running, I remained on the Bridge. The seas were breaking over us from stern {stem?} to stern and naturally the decks were awash all of the time. The Gun Crews were knee deep in water and with the rolling and pitching of the Remlik were prevented from landing the U Boat. The general opinion at that time was that she, like ourselves, had become lost in the storm and was not looking for fight, but for objects from which to take bearings. However, she had no more than vanished than a tremendous sea broke over our stern. I stood on the Bridge looking aft and as the old salt would have said that sea shivered our timbers and carried away the depth charge cradle carried aft on the taftrail. After the freeing ports had disposed of some of the water I could see friend Depth Bomb cavorting around on the Gun Platform between the Port rail and the Steering Engine. Knowing that it would hardly do to let our little pet bump many times I ran down from the bridge and aft. After several attempts, and as many duckings, I finally got a toe hold on the Gun Platform and my arms around the bomb. I then made the discovery that the safety pin had come out of the bomb and had visions of the bouy section getting away from me. Could feel the cold chills chasing up and down my spine. Fortunately, I got the pin back into place at the first attempt. After several more attempts I swung the Bomb with such a position that I could both sit on it and at the same time hold on to the Gun Platform. The ship was then headed up into the sea and Patrick Danahee, Fireman First Class, helped me to lash bomb to the Gun Platform.

I am enclosing herewith copy of Captain Johnson's original letter to the Department.

 Since receiving your letter I have received from the Italian Government the Italian War Cross.

 Very truly yours,


Medal of Honor citation of Chief Boatswain's Mate John MacKenzie-
Rank and organization: Chief Boatswain's Mate, U.S. Navy. Born: July 7, 1886, Bridgeport, Conn. Accredited to: Massachusetts. G.O. No.: 391, 1918.


"For extraordinary heroism while serving on board the U.S.S. Remlik, on the morning of 17 December 1917, when the Remlik encountered a heavy gale. During this gale, there was a heavy sea running. The depth-charge box on the taffrail aft, containing a Sperry depth charge, was washed overboard, the depth charge itself falling inboard and remaining on deck. MACKENZIE, on his own initiative, went aft and sat down on the depth charge, as it was impracticable to carry it to safety until the ship was headed up into the sea. In acting as he did, MACKENZIE exposed his life and prevented a serious accident to the ship and probable loss of the ship and the entire crew."


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Commander Navy Air Forces Reserve (COMNAVAIRESFOR/CNAFR)US Navy
  1902-1907, COX-0000, Commander Navy Air Forces Reserve (COMNAVAIRESFOR/CNAFR)
  1907-1917, COX-0000, Broken Service
  1917-1918, BM-0000, USS Remlik - SP-157
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1917-1918 World War I/Anti-Submarine Warfare
  1917-1918 World War I
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