About USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall
"Dedicated to the honor of those alumni who have been killed in action defending the ideals of their country. With immortal valor and the price of their lives these proved their love of country their loyalty to the high traditions of their alma mater by inscribing with their own blood the narrative of their deeds above, on, and underneath the sevens seas. They have set the course. They silently stand watch wherever Navy ships ply the waters of the globe."

This site exists to perpetuate the memory of alumni of the United States Naval Academy who have died in service to their country. As President Lincoln said in his Gettysburg Address,

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.

This site demands input from friends, family, classmates, and shipmates of the fallen. No team of historians could possibly provide the nuanced understanding of who these men and women were. Stories and anecdotes, no matter how trivial, will help us learn. Please contribute your memories!

If you have any questions, comments, or any other correspondence please contact Patrick McConnell, USNA '02.

The Virtual Memorial Hall project was created and is maintained by Run To Honor, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit founded in 2007. The mission of Run To Honor is to perpetuate the memory of Naval Academy alumni killed in action or in military operations in service to our nation, and to support Naval Academy Gold Star families. This site is not affiliated with or endorsed by the United States Department of Defense, the United States Navy, or the United States Naval Academy.


Though contributions have come from dozens of friends, families, and classmates, we are forever grateful for the dedicated efforts of two women who prior to this project had no connection with the Naval Academy. Leslie Poche and Kathy Franz have each devoted hundreds of hours to researching the lives and stories of the men and women on this site. Both of them have also found many alumni to be added to Memorial Hall.


This site was featured in a wonderful article on November 24, 2017 in the Annapolis Capital Gazette and a great followup on May 38, 2020:

To someone visiting the Naval Academy Memorial Hall, Lt. John Franklin might just be a name carved in the stone. But to his family and fellow sailors, he was Butch. He had a story and a life before he was killed.

Pat McConnell wanted to learn stories like Franklin’s and share them so others could remember the academy’s fallen. So he gathered more than 2,700 of them, creating detailed web pages for every man and woman in the academy’s memorial hall in the USNA Virtual Memorial Hall.

McConnell, a 2002 graduate and Vice President of the charity Run to Honor, has been working on usnamemorialhall.org since 2016. The website uses a Wikipedia-style format to share information and memories about the alumni.

For Franklin’s sister, Rhonda Harrison, contributing to the page for her brother was essential to keeping his memory alive. And it was something she could do from her home in Alabama.

“It’s just important that somebody knows about these people, that somebody cares and somebody’s looking at them — that it wasn’t just a waste of life,” Harrison said. “It’s always through stories and documentation that people exist through history.”

Without family members like Harrison reaching out, the task of telling each sailor’s story wasn’t easy for McConnell.

The hall has plaques for each class year, along with a list of alumni from that year who were killed in action, missing in action or who died while they were deployed, preparing for deployment or in training.

McConnell went from plaque to plaque taking photos to get the fallen sailors’ names, then got to work researching. With Lucky Bag yearbooks, he was able to get enough information to catalog sailors by class and start Googling.

He started with the class of 2010 and worked backward. The Naval Academy was founded in 1845.

“It’s feast or famine sometimes when you come across somebody," McConnell said. "They may have had a long career and I find three words about them.”

Some entries took more than a year to complete, with McConnell contacting sources like Peruvian cemeteries to find information.

Others aren’t even etched in the stone. McConnell said he’s written entries for several dozen men and women he believes should be in the memorial hall.

“Some are very obvious. They perished in the exact same crash as somebody who is already in the memorial hall," McConnell said. "Some are just overlooked. Some didn’t graduate because they left for whatever reason.”

Since the project was completed fall 2019, the academy has worked with Run to Honor to make sure the next generation of midshipmen remembers those who came before them. As a new part of their Link in the Chain program this fall, midshipmen in the Class of 2023 were each assigned a name from the hall and have been tasked with finding as much as they can about that person.

The program usually connects senior midshipmen to surviving members of the class 50 years before them. Now, they’ll also be connected with an alum through the memorial hall as soon as they enter the academy.