Cassin Young (March 6, 1894 – November 13, 1942) was a captain in the United States Navy who received the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Young was born in Washington, D.C., on March 6, 1894. He would move to Wisconsin, which his military records state as his official residence. At the age of 2 he moved to Milwaukee where his father operated a drug store. After graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy on June 3, 1916, he served on the battleship USS Connecticut (BB-18) into 1919. He attended submarine school in 1919 and then spent several years in submarines. During that period, he served on submarines USS R-22 (SS-99) and USS R-3 (SS-80). In 1921, he and his family returned from Panama and he assisted in outfitting the USS S-51. In January 1922, he served in Naval Communications on the staff of Commander Submarine Divisions, Battle Fleet, and at the Naval Academy.
During 1931 to 1933, Lieutenant Commander Young served on the battleship USS New York (BB-34). He was subsequently awarded command of the destroyer USS Evans (DD-78) and was assigned to the Eleventh Naval District from 1935 to 1937. After promotion to the rank of Commander, he commanded Submarine Division Seven and was stationed at Naval Submarine Base New London, in Groton, Connecticut.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, he was commanding officer of the repair ship USS Vestal (AR-4), which was badly damaged by Japanese bombs and the explosion of the battleship USS Arizona (BB-39). Commander Young rapidly organized offensive action, personally taking charge of one of Vestal's anti-aircraft guns. When Arizona's forward magazine exploded, the blast blew Young overboard. Although stunned, he was determined to save his ship by getting her away from the blazing Arizona. Swimming through burning oil back to Vestal, which was already damaged and about to be further damaged, Young got her underway and beached her, thus ensuring her later salvage. His heroism was recognized with the Medal of Honor.
Promoted to Captain in February 1942, he took command of the heavy cruiser USS San Francisco (CA-38) on November 9, 1942. On November 13, 1942, during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, he guided his ship in action with a superior Japanese force and was killed by enemy shells while closely engaging the battleship Hiei. Captain Young was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during the campaign and San Francisco received the Presidential Unit Citation.
Young's decorations and awards include:
|Medal of Honor|
|Navy Presidential Unit Citation|
|World War I Victory Medal|
|American Defense Service Medal with bronze service star|
|American Campaign Medal|
|Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze campaign stars|
|World War II Victory Medal|
Medal of Honor citation
Medal of Honor citation:
For distinguished conduct in action, outstanding heroism and utter disregard of his own safety, above and beyond the call of duty, as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Vestal, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, by enemy Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. Commander Young proceeded to the bridge and later took personal command of the 3-inch antiaircraft gun. When blown overboard by the blast of the forward magazine explosion of the U.S.S. Arizona, to which the U.S.S. Vestal was moored, he swam back to his ship. The entire forward part of the U.S.S. Arizona was a blazing inferno with oil afire on the water between the two ships; as a result of several bomb hits, the U.S.S. Vestal was afire in several places, was settling and taking on a list. Despite severe enemy bombing and strafing at the time, and his shocking experience of having been blown overboard, Commander Young, with extreme coolness and calmness, moved his ship to an anchorage distant from the U.S.S. Arizona, and subsequently beached the U.S.S. Vestal upon determining that such action was required to save his ship.
Captain Young's Medal of Honor is on display at the Naval Academy Museum in Annapolis MD.
In 1943, the destroyer USS Cassin Young (DD-793) was named in his honor. This famous destroyer has been restored and is now berthed at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston Harbor, across from the USS Constitution.