b. 29/09/1902 Selma, Alabama. d. 07/02/1943 Solomon Islands.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 06-07/02/1943 Solomon Islands.
Howard Gilmore was born in Selma, Alabama, September 29, 1902 and enlisted in the Navy November 15, 1920. In 1922 he was appointed to the United States Naval Academy by competitive examination. Standing 34 in a class of 436, Gilmore was commissioned in 1926 and reported to the battleship USS Mississippi (BB-41). Gilmore underwent submarine training in 1930 and in the years that followed served in various submarines and at stations ashore.
Gilmore served as the executive officer of USS Shark (SS-174), and in a near-fatal incident during Shark's shakedown cruise, narrowly survived an assault by a group of thugs in Panama, who cut his throat during an excursion ashore. He had to deal with several other instances of tragedy in his life, including the death of his first wife from disease, and at the time of his Medal of Honor action his second wife was still in a coma from a fall she had taken down a flight of stairs. In 1941, he assumed his first command, USS Shark SS-174, only to be transferred the day following the attack on Pearl Harbor to take command of the still-unfinished USS Growler (SS-215).
Gilmore commanded his submarine skillfully during four Pacific war patrols. During his first, on 5 July 1942 Growler attacked three enemy destroyers off Kiska, sinking one and severely damaging the other two, while narrowly avoiding two torpedoes fired in return, for which Gilmore received the Navy Cross.
On his second patrol, Growler sank four merchant ships totaling 15,000 tons in the East China Sea near Taiwan. Gilmore received a gold star in lieu of a second Navy Cross.
In October 1942, Growler patrolled off of Truk in the Caroline Islands in a repositioning of submarine assets on the way to Brisbane, Australia. No significant action occurred.
For distinguished gallantry and valor above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Growler during her Fourth War Patrol in the Southwest Pacific from 10 January to 7 February 1943. Boldly striking at the enemy in spite of continuous hostile air and antisubmarine patrols, Comdr. Gilmore sank one Japanese freighter and damaged another by torpedo fire, successfully evading severe depth charges following each attack. In the darkness of night on 7 February, an enemy gunboat closed range and prepared to ram the Growler. Comdr. Gilmore daringly maneuvered to avoid the crash and rammed the attacker instead, ripping into her port side at 11 knots and bursting wide her plates. In the terrific fire of the sinking gunboat's heavy machineguns, Comdr. Gilmore calmly gave the order to clear the bridge, and refusing safety for himself, remained on deck while his men preceded him below. Struck down by the fusillade of bullets and having done his utmost against the enemy, in his final living moments, Comdr. Gilmore gave his last order to the officer of the deck, "Take her down". The Growler dived; seriously damaged but under control, she was brought safely to port by her well-trained crew inspired by the courageous fighting spirit of their dead captain.
BURIAL LOCATION: LOST AT SEA. ON MANILA MEMORIAL TO THE MISSING.