Monday, October 12, 2009

Story Of A Hero
The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep - John 10:11

Father Aloysius H. Schmitt. Killed In Action Dec. 7th, 1941. USS Oklahoma - Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Roman Catholic Chaplain Lt. (J.G.) Aloysius H. Schmitt, born Dec. 4, 1909 in St. Lucas, Iowa, was at the beginning of his naval career. Appointed as acting chaplain on June 28, 1939, he was serving his first tour of duty at sea onboard the USS Oklahoma (BB-37) at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He had just finished celebrating his morning mass when the attack began. As the assault on the Navy’s fleet raged, Chaplain Schmitt went to the ship’s sick bay to minister to the injured and dying.

When the Oklahoma was struck and water poured into her hold, the ship began to list and roll over. Many men were trapped. Schmitt found his way - with other crew members - to a compartment where only a small porthole provided enough space to escape.

Chaplain Schmitt helped other men, one by one, to crawl to safety. When it became his turn, the chaplain tried to get through the small opening. As he struggled to exit through the porthole, he became aware that others had come into the compartment from which he was trying to escape. As he realized that the water was rising rapidly and that escape would soon be impossible, he insisted on being pushed back through the hole so that he could help others who could get through the opening more easily. Accounts from eyewitnesses that have been published in the Arizona Memorial newsletter relate that the men protested, saying that he would never get out alive, but he insisted, “Please let go of me, and may God bless you all.” (From
For the entire article, it can be seen here at the Wilmington TLM blogsite.


Blogger Adeodatus49 said...

A superlative example of the sacrificing priesthood of Jesus Christ in action. Social justice clerics should take note, but they won't.

6:50 PM  
Blogger David Nandell said...

Great story. Go Navy! And a Iowan too!

7:10 PM  
Blogger Al said...


Grazie for posting this about my fellow Iowa Boy & Loras alum (back when it was Catholic). Loras has a display of some of his possessions including his breviary & chalice he used on the ship in a display case inside the entrance to the chapel.

In 1943 the US Navy launched a destroyer escort named after him. It was sold to Taiwan in 1967.

He also has an island named after him here in DBQ, Chaplain Schmitt Island.

Excpet for a program produced by Loras College students a few years ago that occassionally airs on EWTN, he is all but forgotten by most people arround here. So, it is nice to see he is remembered somewhere.

11:41 PM  
Blogger Kindred Spirit said...

What a beautiful story of an "alter Christus" and genuine hero who followed the two greatest commandments to the very end. May his reward be very great in Heaven. Dear Father, please pray for us.

12:10 AM  
Blogger TH2 said...

Indeed, Father was a good and loyal servant of Our Lord.

Caves, I like these kinds of posts. Please continue in the future when you come across them. Always good to hear about.

7:26 PM  
Blogger Anita Moore said...

Wow. He should have won the CMH. Proving once again: Catholic priests pack the gear.

Speaking of the CMH and chaplains: one chaplain won it in World War II, and three won it in Vietnam (two posthumously)...Catholic priests every one. Servant of God Vincent Capodanno was among them.

A couple of chaplains were awarded the CMH during the Civil War, when that award was instituted, but I was not able to find out whether they were Catholic priests. If they were, can't say I'd be surprised!

7:39 PM  
Blogger Kevin Whiteman said...

And the last man to win the Confederate Medal of Honor was... you guessed it... a Catholic priest.

7:50 PM  
Blogger Anita Moore said...

Cavey, I never knew that. Why don't you do a post about him one of these days?

7:52 PM  

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