JOHN T. MELVIN, LTJG, USNRF

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall
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John Melvin '11

Date of birth: October 16, 1887

Date of death: November 5, 1917

Age: 30

Lucky Bag

From the 1911 Lucky Bag:

Loss

John was lost on November 5, 1917 when USS Alcedo (SP 166) was torpedoed and sunk off the coast of France while on convoy escort duty.

From Wikipedia:

Born at Selma, Alabama, Melvin was appointed midshipman 6 July 1907 and commissioned ensign 7 July 1911. Resigning his commission 20 August 1915, he was appointed lieutenant (jg.), 9 February 1917, upon his joining the Naval Reserve.

Attached to the patrol boat Alcedo, Lieutenant (jg.) Melvin lost his life 5 November 1917 when that vessel was sunk by a German submarine in the war zone. Alcedo was the first American war vessel to go down in World War I, and Lieutenant Melvin is officially recognized as the first American naval officer to die in the war.

He had reported to Alcedo on June 12, 1917.

His father was listed as next of kin. John has a memory marker in Alabama.

Namesake

Both USS Melvin (DD 335) and USS Melvin (DD 680) were named for Melvin; the latter ship was sponsored by his grandniece.

Memorial

John's classmates erected a plaque in his honor in Memorial Hall.

Memorial Hall Error

John was promoted to LT(j.g.) on March 22, 1915. He resigned his commission on August 20, 1915; when he returned to the service on February 9, 1917, it was as a member of the "USNRF." Memorial Hall has "USN." The plaque in Memorial Hall has both of these facts correct.

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

January 1912

Midshipman, South Carolina

January 1913

Ensign, South Carolina

January 1914

Ensign, South Carolina

Others at this command: LT Theodore Ellyson '05.

January 1915

Ensign, USS South Carolina

Others at this command: LT Theodore Ellyson '05 and 2LT John Mayer '13.

January 1916

resigned as Lieutenant (j.g.) on August 20, 1915


Class of 1911

John is one of 15 members of the Class of 1911 on Virtual Memorial Hall.