(Dubuque, Iowa) An Iowa World War II Hero has been honored posthumously with the Silver Star. Chaplain Aloysious Schmitt was killed on the battleship USS Oklahoma, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on this day, Decenber 7th, 1941.
Schmitt sacrificed his own chance to escape by saving the lives of a dozen men, by pushing them through a porthole to safety. He became the first U.S. Chaplain killed in World War II.
The Chief Chaplain of the U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Margaret Kibben was at Loras College in Dubuque today to give Schmidt's family the medal.
Father Schmitt was initially awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal and the Purple Heart. The U.S. military has more recently determined that Chaplain Schmitt’s valor merited the Silver Star — the third-highest military combat decoration awarded to a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Schmitt was a native of St Lucas, Iowa and was a 1932 graduate of Loras College.
Chaplain Schmitt was laid to rest at Loras College in October 2016. His remains were identified thrugh DNA testing, to identify members of the USS Oklahoma’s crew who had been buried as “unknowns” at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii.