US Fencing Hall of Fame
Naval Academy Fencing Captain 1919
Killed in the air crash of the USS Akron
Lt. George C. Calnan, (USN) (1900-1933) - AFLA national foil champion six times in seven years (1925, '26, '27, '28, '30, '31), medalist twice; national epee champion (1923); national three-weapon champion (1927). Member of all four national championship teams for the New York Fencers Club: foil, epee, sabre, three-weapon (1926). Member, US. Olympic team (1920, '24, '28, '32) and captain (1932). Olympic bronze medalist in epee individual (1928); member, Olympic bronze medal-winning foil team (1932) and Olympic bronze medal-winning epee team (1932). At the 1932 Olympics, he repeated the Oath of Participation on behalf of all participating athletes. Vice-president of the AFLA (1931-33). Captain of Naval Academy (1919). The national three-weapon team trophy was presented in his memory (1934-64).
A model for behavior, Lieutenant George C. Calnan.Â
Lt. Calnan learned to fence at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and became team captain in 1919.Â A brilliant fencer, he went to the Olympic Games in 1928 and during the individual epee competition he acknowledged a hit that the judges did not see.Â This act of sportsmanship cost him the match and the gold medal.Â He finished with a bronze, but ito many, that bronze medal was worth more truly won than the gold would have been under false pretenses.Â The International Olympic Committee must have thought so, too, because they invited him to recite the Olympians' Oath at the 1932 Games on behalf of all the athletes, an obviously extraordinary honor.
George Calnan died in 1933 in the loss of the U.S. Navy airship Akron, remaining at his station and trying to maintain the ship's trim and ballast when it crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off New Jersey.Â
His was one of only ten Olympic medals ever won by an American in individual men's fencing.Â
The Olympic Oath 1932
The voice of the announcer sounds again. It is introducing Lieutenant George C. Calnan, of the United States Olympic Team, who will take the Olympic Oath.
A tall figure, erect and military, ascends the rostrum on the field as a hush spreads over the audience. He grasps the American flag with his left hand and raises his right to the sky.
All over the field the athletes raise their right hands. Then, in a loud clear voice, come Lieutenant Calnan's words :
"We swear that we will take part in the Olympic Games in loyal competition, respecting the regulations which govern them and desirous of participating in them in the true spirit of sportsmanship for the honor of our country and for the glory of sport."
Calnan was among the 73 fatalities of the USS Akron crash in 1933. He had a lieutenant's rank at the time of the crash.
He was posthumously inducted in the US Fencing Hall of Fame in 1963, among the first inductees.
Only one of the officers of the Akron survived, Lt. Cdr. Herbert V. Wiley, Executive Officer. Rear Admiral William A. Moffett was also on board and killed.
Cdr. Frank C. McCord, Commanding
Lt. Cdr. Herbert V. Wiley, Executive Officer
Lt. Cdr. Harold E. MacLellan Lt. George Calnan
Lt. Herbert M. Wescoat
Lt. Richard F. Cross, Jr.
Lt. (jg) Hammond J. Dugan
Lt. (jg) Charles F. Miller
Lt. (jg) Morgan Redfield
Lt. (jg) Wilfred Bushnell
Lt. (jg) Cyrus Clendening
Chief Machinist George C. Walsh
Chain of Command USS Los Angeles Officers and Crew Officers and crew of USS Los Angeles at the end of its career, 1931-1932:
Cdr. Alger H. Dresel, Commanding Lt. Fred T. Berry Lt. Raymond F. Tyler Lt. George C. Calnan Lt. C. J. Maguire Lt. George F. Watson Lt. (jg) Maurice M. "Mike" Bradley Lt. (jg) Alexander Maclntyre Lt. (jg) Ben May 2d Lt. (jg) T. M. Whelan Lt. (jg) Clinton S. Rounds Chief Machinist A. B. Clapp Chief Machinist B. C. Hesser