EUGENE S. SARSFIELD, LCDR, USN
Eugene Sarsfield '26
Date of birth: April 19, 1902
Date of death: July 10, 1943
From the 1926 Lucky Bag:
Eugene was lost on July 10, 1943 when USS Maddox (DD 622) was hit and sunk by German aircraft in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Gela, Sicily, during the invasion there. He had been the ship's commanding officer since she was commissioned on October 31, 1942.
Sarsfield was born in Brooklyn, New York, on 19 April 1902 and entered the United States Naval Academy in 1922. Upon his graduation on 3 June 1926, he was commissioned Ensign and served in Nevada (BB-36), New York (BB-34), and Hannibal (AG-1) before receiving submarine instruction in 1929 and torpedo training in 1930. During the next four years, he served successively in Greer (DD-145), Argonne (AP-4), and Constitution.
Following duty with the 3d Naval District, he joined Badger (DD-126) in July 1935, and returned to New York in September 1937. He instructed naval reservists in the 3d Naval District for two years before reporting to Kearny (DD-432) on 10 June 1940 to serve as executive officer and navigator. He was commended by the Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, for "Leadership, personal courage and ingenuity in solving the many problems arising under adverse conditions" when Kearny was torpedoed off Iceland on 17 October 1941.
Given command of McCormick (DD-223) on 8 December 1941, he was detached on 3 October to supervise the outfitting of Maddox (DD-622) and he assumed command of that destroyer at her commissioning on 31 October 1942.
From Together We Served:
- 1926-1929: USS Nevada (BB-36)
- 1926-1929: USS New York (BB-34)
- 1929-1929: Submarine School (diesel)
- 1930-1930: Torpedo Training Center (Faculty Staff)
- 1930-1934: USS Argonne (AP-4)
- 1931-1934: USS Greer (DD-145)
- 1931-1935: USS Constitution (Old Ironsides)
- 1935-1937: USS Badger (DD-126)
- 1937-1939: New York
- 1940-1941: USS Kearny (DD-432)
- 1941-1941: USS Mccormick (DD-223)
- 1942-1943: USS Maddox (DD-622)
From Hall of Valor:
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander Eugene Sylvester Sarsfield (NSN: 0-60201), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the Destroyer U.S.S. MADDOX (DD-6232), during the amphibious invasion of Sicily on 10 July 1943. While his ship was effectively supporting the assault at Gela, Lieutenant Commander Sarsfield, in the face of terrific aerial bombardment, maintained alert and accurate direction of gunfire until the Maddox was gravely damaged by one direct hit and two near misses. Grimly standing by to supervise abandonment of the rapidly sinking vessel, he was responsible for saving the lives of nine officers and sixty-five men out of a total of two hundred and eighty-four on board. Lieutenant Commander Sarsfield's inspiring leadership and the valiant devotion to duty of his command contributed in large measure to the outstanding success of these vital missions and reflect great credit upon the United States Naval Service.
Division: U.S.S. Maddox (DD-622)
General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 325 (April 1944)
Legion of Merit
From Hall of Valor:
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Legion of Merit (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander Eugene Sylvester Sarsfield (NSN: 0-60201), United States Navy, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States while commanding the U.S.S. MADDOX (DD-622) on convoy duty in the Atlantic during World War II. Lieutenant Commander Sarsfield contacted a submerged U-Boat and delivered two depth-charge attacks with devastating accuracy. The damaged submarine capsized, came to the surface and probably sank.
General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 323 (February 1944)
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
(Note: Postwar records show no U-boat was sunk by Maddox in this action.)
Sarsfield Park in New York City is named for Eugene.
USS Sarsfield (DD 837) was named for Eugene; the ship was sponsored by his widow.