CASSIN YOUNG, CAPT, USN
Cassin Young '16
Date of birth: March 6, 1894
Date of death: November 13, 1942
From the 1916 Lucky Bag:
His wife, Eleanor, was listed as next of kin; he was also survived by his son, who was awarded the Silver Star in WWII prior to graduating the Naval Academy in 1950.. He has a memory marker in South Carolina.
Young was born in Washington, D.C., on March 6, 1894. He would move to Wisconsin, which his military records state as his official residence. At the age of 2 he moved to Milwaukee where his father operated a drug store. After graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy on June 3, 1916, he served on the battleship USS Connecticut into 1919. He attended submarine school in 1919 and then spent several years in submarines. During that period, he served on submarines USS R-22 (SS-99) and USS R-3 (SS-80). In 1921, he and his family returned from Panama and he assisted in outfitting the USS S-51. From January 1923, until June 1925, he was on duty in the Office of Naval Communications, Navy Department, Washington, DC, and from July 1925 to July 1928, he was aid on staff, Commander, Submarine Division, Battle Fleet.
He was instructor in the Department of Engineering and Aeronautics at the Naval Academy from August, 1928 until May 1931, and during the summer of 1930 made the practice cruise with the midshipmen to Northern European ports. From June, 1931 to December 1932, he served as communication officer in USS New York, and during the next five months, as her first lieutenant. Following that duty he commanded USS Evans (DD 78) for two years. He was on duty at Headquarters, Eleventh Naval District, San Diego, from March, 1935, until March 1937, when he assumed command of Submarine Division Seven, with additional duty in 1938 as Commander, Experimental Division Two. In July 1939, Captain Young reported for duty as executive officer, Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut, and in October 1941, returned to sea as commanding officer of USS Vestal.
Vestal was moored to the battleship USS Arizona (BB-39) on December 7, 1941; Vestal was damaged directly by the Japanese attack and indirectly by damage to Arizona. Commander Young rapidly organized offensive action, personally taking charge of one of Vestal's anti-aircraft guns. When Arizona's forward magazine exploded, the blast blew Young overboard. Although stunned, he was determined to save his ship by getting her away from the blazing Arizona. Swimming through burning oil back to Vestal, which was already damaged, Young got her underway to an anchorage before ultimately beaching her, thus ensuring her later salvage. His heroism was recognized with the Medal of Honor.
Promoted to captain in February 1942, he took command of the heavy cruiser USS San Francisco (CA-38) on November 9, 1942. (Note: several sources claim he commanded San Francisco in the Battle of Cape Esperance; this is incorrect.)
On November 13, 1942, during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, he guided his ship in action with a superior Japanese force and was killed by enemy shells while closely engaging the battleship Hiei. Captain Young was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during the campaign and San Francisco received the Presidential Unit Citation.
Medal of Honor
From Hall of Valor:
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Commander Cassin Young (NSN: 0-9615), United States Navy, for distinguished conduct in action, outstanding heroism and utter disregard of his own safety, above and beyond the call of duty, as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. VESTAL (AR-4), during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, by enemy Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Commander Young proceeded to the bridge and later took personal command of the three-inch anti-aircraft gun. When blown overboard by the blast of the forward magazine explosion of the U.S.S. ARIZONA, to which the U.S.S. VESTAL was moored, he swam back to his ship. The entire forward part of the U.S.S. ARIZONA was a blazing inferno with oil afire on the water between the two ships; as a result of several bomb hits, the U.S.S. VESTAL was afire in several places, was settling and taking on a list. Despite severe enemy bombing and strafing at the time, and his shocking experience of having been blown overboard, Commander Young, with extreme coolness and calmness, moved his ship to an anchorage distant from the U.S.S. ARIZONA, and subsequently beached the U.S.S. VESTAL upon determining that such action was required to save his ship.
Division: U.S.S. Vestal (AR-4)
From Hall of Valor:
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Captain Cassin Young (NSN: 0-9615), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the Heavy Cruiser U.S.S. SAN FRANCISCO (CA-38), during an engagement with Japanese naval forces near Savo Island on the night of 12 - 13 November, 1942. On this occasion the force to which Captain Young was attached engaged at close quarters and defeated a superior enemy force, inflicting heavy damage upon them and preventing the accomplishment of their intended mission. This daring and intrepid attack, brilliantly executed, led to a great victory for his country's forces. By his indomitable fighting spirit, expert seamanship, and gallant devotion to duty, Captain Young contributed largely to the success of the battle and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 313 (April 1943)
Division: U.S.S. San Francisco (CA-38)
USS Cassin Young (DD 793) was named for Cassin; the ship was sponsored by his widow. The ship is now a museum in Boston Harbor.