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Last Rank
Petty Officer - Boatswain's Mate
Last Primary NEC
00-0000-Unknown NEC Rating
Last Rating/NEC Group
Rating/NEC Group Unknown
Primary Unit
1863-1864, Seaman, South Atlantic Force/South Atlantic Blockading Squadron
Service Years
1863 - 1865

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This Military Service Page was created/owned by Steven Loomis (SaigonShipyard), IC3 to remember ORTEGA, John (Juan), PO.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Born in Spain, Accredited to Pennsylvania
Last Address
John's Date of Passing and Burial Location are yet to be determined.

Date of Passing
Not Specified
Location of Interment
Not Specified
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John Ortega
Union Navy

Medal of Honor Recipient
promoted to acting master's mate

American Civil War Battle Streamer


Seaman John Ortega  (born in 1840 in Spain), was the first Hispanic  sailor to be awarded the United States' highest military decoration for valor in combat — the Medal of Honor — for having distinguished himself during the South Atlantic Blockade by the Union Naval forces during the American Civil War.

Ortega, a resident of Pennsylvania, was a Spanish immigrant who joined the Union Navy in his adopted hometown in Pennsylvania.  Ortega was assigned to the USS Saratoga during the American Civil War. The USS Saratoga, commissioned in 1843, was the third ship of the United States Navy baptized with that same name. It was a sloop-of-war under the command of Commander George Musalas Colvocoresses.

On January 13, 1864, Secretary of the United States Navy Gideon Welles, ordered Commander Colvocoresses and the USS Saratoga to proceed to Charleston, South Carolina, and report to Rear Admiral Dahlgren for duty in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron in what is known as the Union blockade.  The Union blockade was a massive effort on behave of the Union Navy designed to prevent the passage of trade goods, supplies, and arms to and from the Confederate States.  Ortega was a member of the landing parties from the ship who made several raids in August and September which resulted in the capture of many prisoners and the taking or destruction of substantial quantities of ordnance, ammunition, and supplies. A number of buildings, bridges, and salt works were destroyed during the expedition.  For his actions Seaman John Ortega was awarded the Medal of Honor and promoted to acting master's mate. (listed here as Petty Officer Boatswain's Mate)

Other Comments:

Medal of Honor citation

Rank and organization: Seaman, U.S. Navy
Accredited To: Pennsylvania
Born: 1840, Spain
G.O. No.: 45, December 31, 1864

Served as seaman on board the U.S.S. Saratoga during actions of that vessel on 2 occasions. Carrying out his duties courageously during these actions, Ortega conducted himself gallantly through both periods. Promoted to acting master's mate.

Master's mate is an obsolete rating which was used by the Royal Navy, United States Navy and merchant services in both countries for a senior petty officer who assisted the master. Master's mates evolved into the modern rank of Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, while in the merchant service they evolved into the numbered mates or officers.

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 Duty Stations
US NavyCommander, US Fleet Forces Command (COMUSFLTFORCOM)/South Atlantic Force
  1863-1864, Seaman, USS Saratoga (1842) Sloop of war
  1863-1864, Seaman, South Atlantic Force/South Atlantic Blockading Squadron
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1861-1865 Civil War/Blockade of Charleston Harbor
  1861-1865 Civil War
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