HENRY C. DREXLER, ENS, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Henry Drexler '24

Date of birth: August 7, 1901

Date of death: October 20, 1924

Age: 23

Lucky Bag

From the 1924 Lucky Bag:

Biography & Loss

From Wikipedia:

Born in Braddock, Pennsylvania, on August 7, 1901, Drexler grew up in a seaside home in Bethany Beach, Delaware. His father, Louis Drexler, was a Delaware state senator. The family home still stands in Bethany Beach, although it has been moved further inland. Attended Culver Military Academy located in Culver, Indiana. Like his older brother Louis, Henry Drexler attended the United States Naval Academy, graduating in June 1924.

On October 20, 1924, while Trenton (CL-11) was conducting gunnery drills in the Norfolk area, powder bags in her forward turret exploded, killing or injuring every member of the gun crew. During the ensuing fire Ensign Drexler and Boatswain's Mate First Class George Robert Cholister attempted to dump powder charges into the immersion tank before they detonated but failed. Drexler was killed when the charge exploded, and Cholister was overcome by fire and fumes before he could reach his objective. He died the following day. Both men were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

He was survived by his parents and an older brother; Henry is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Family

His brother, Louis Drexler, Jr. '23, was killed in action during the invasion of Okinawa in 1945.

Medal of Honor

From Hall of Heroes:

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Ensign Henry Clay Drexler, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession on the occasion of a fire on board the U.S.S. TRENTON. At 3:35 on the afternoon of 20 October 1924, while the TRENTON was preparing to fire trial installation shots from the two 6-inch guns in the forward twin mount of that vessel, two charges of powder ignited. Twenty men were trapped in the twin mount. Four died almost immediately and ten later from burns and inhalation of flame and gases. The six others were severely injured. Ensign Drexler, without thought of his own safety, on seeing that the charge of powder for the left gun was ignited, jumped for the right charge and endeavored to put it in the immersion tank. The left charge burst into flame and ignited the right charge before Ensign Drexler could accomplish his purpose. He met his death while making a supreme effort to save his shipmates.

General Orders: Awarded by Special Act of Congress, 3 February 1933
Service: Navy
Division: U.S.S. Trenton (CL 11)

Navy Cross

From Hall of Heroes:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Ensign Henry Clay Drexler, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession on the occasion of a fire on board the U.S.S. TRENTON. At 3:35 on the afternoon of 20 October 1924, while the TRENTON was preparing to fire trial installation shots from the two 6-inch guns in the forward twin mount of that vessel, two charges of powder ignited. Twenty men were trapped in the twin mount. Four died almost immediately and ten later from burns and inhalation of flame and gases. The six others were severely injured. Ensign Drexler, without thought of his own safety, on seeing that the charge of powder for the left gun was ignited, jumped for the right charge and endeavored to put it in the immersion tank. The left charge burst into flame and ignited the right charge before Ensign Drexler could accomplish his purpose. He met his death while making a supreme effort to save his shipmates.

Service: Navy
Division: U.S.S. Trenton (CL 11)

Namesake

USS Drexler (DD 741) was named for Henry; the ship was sponsored by his mother.


Class of 1924

Henry is one of 41 members of the Class of 1924 in Memorial Hall.