From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

John Speer '32

Date of birth: May 25, 1908

Date of death: September 11, 1943

Age: 35

Lucky Bag

From the 1932 Lucky Bag:


From Find A Grave:

Husband of Edith Bower Speer who resided in Annapolis, Maryland during the war.

John served as a Commander, U.S.S. Savannah (CL-42), U.S. Navy during World War II.

He resided in Pennsylvania prior to the war.

During the Invasion of Salerno, John was "Killed In Action" when the Savannah was hit by a German radio-controlled Fritz X glide-bomb which pierced the armored turret roof of Savannah's No. 3 gun turret, passed through three decks into the lower ammunition-handling room, where it exploded, blowing a hole in her keel and tearing a seam in the cruiser's port side.

John was buried at sea and was awarded the Legion of Merit and a Purple Heart.

Service # O-071532

John was one of 197 officers and crew lost when USS Savannah (CL 42) was struck by a German radio-controlled Fritz X glide-bomb on September 11, 1943 while providing gunfire support for the landings at Salerno, Italy.

His wife was listed as next of kin.

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 John O. Speer (NSN: 0-71532), United States Navy, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as First Lieutenant and Damage Control Officer of the U.S.S. SAVANNAH (CL-42) during the invasion of Italy. Lieutenant Commander Speer worked tirelessly to organize and train a prompt and effective crew in case of enemy attack. On 11 September 1943, when a hostile bomb struck, he was killed but his well-trained crew carried on and succeeded in controlling the flames and saving the ship.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 327 (June 1944)
Action Date: September 11, 1943
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Division: U.S.S. Savannah (CL-42)

Class of 1932

John is one of 52 members of the Class of 1932 on Virtual Memorial Hall.