CHIEF RADIOMAN THOMAS JAMES REEVES; U.S. NAVY

December 9, 1895 (Thomaston, CT) – December 7, 1941; 45 years old; unmarried
Brother listed at 31 Godwin Court, Thomaston
Enlisted on July 20, 1917
USS CALIFORNIA (BB-44); Chief Radioman

Medal of Honor Recipient. He enlisted in the Naval Reserve as Electrician Third Class on July 20, 1917. He served until discharged August 21, 1921, and on October 12, 1921 he reenlisted in the Navy making it his career. He was serving as Chief Radioman on the Battleship USS California when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

From U.S. Navy cruise book published in 1995 about the USS California

THOMAS JAMES REEVES, the son of Mr. and Mrs. William Reeves of Thomaston, Connecticut. He attended local schools and before entering the service was the chief operator for Western Union at Waterbury, CT. Thomas enlisted in the U.S. Navy on July 10, 1917. He saw service in WWI in the Transportation Service. In the following years he had service on the USS American, Whipple, Seattle, Texas, Chicago, Maryland, New Mexico and California. He also served in Staff Headquarters of the 3rd Naval District and with the naval Mission to Brazil. He also taught radio in Rio de Janeiro. Thomas intended to retire in 1939 with more than 22 years of service completed. He had accepted an appointment as ground engineer with the Civil Service. The day before his retirement was to take effect, President Roosevelt declared a Limited Emergency and all persons were prohibited from leaving the Navy. Thomas then re-enlisted at San Pedro for another four years. At the time of Pearl Harbor, he was on the Admiral’s staff on board the USS California.  

Citation to accompany the award of the Navy Medal of Honor

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Congressional Medal of Honor to Thomas James Reeves, CRM (PA) USN, Deceased

      For service during an attack on the United States Fleet in Pearl Harbor, as set forth in the following. For Distinguished Service in the line of his profession, with extraordinary courage and disregard for his own safety during the attack on the U.S. Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. After the mechanized ammunition hoists were put out of commission in the USS California, Reeves on his own initiative, in a burning passageway, assisted in the maintenance of an ammunition supply by hand to the anti-aircraft guns until he was overcome by smoke and flames which resulted in his death.

Photo of CRM Reeves’ Medal of Honor. Contributed by Bob Dorr of Waterbury. The medal is on permanent display in the Town Hall in Thomaston, Connecticut

From The Hartford Courant July 12, 1942

Thomaston, July 11. – (AP) – Thomas Reeves is to have a United States Navy escort vessel named in his memory, according to a letter received today by his brother, Fred D. Reeves, from the Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox. Mr. Reeves, whose memory was honored at special ceremonies here May 30 and who was posthumously awarded the Navy Medal of Honor, died December 7 in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was a Chief Radioman in the Navy. The first Reeves was laid down by the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia, on 7 February 1943; launched on 23 April 1943; sponsored by Miss Mary Anne Reeves, niece of Chief Radioman Reeves; and commissioned on 9 June 1943, Lieutenant Commander Mathias S. Clark in command.


USS Reeves (DE-156/APD-52) was a Buckley-class destroyer escort of the United States Navy, named in honor of Chief Petty Officer Thomas J. Reeves (1895–1941), who was killed in action, while serving aboard the battleship California (BB-44) during the attack on Pearl Harbor. For his distinguished conduct to bring ammunition to anti-aircraft guns, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Chief Reeves is buried at National Military Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii; Section A, Grave 884

Published by jeffd1121

USAF retiree. Veteran advocate. Committed to telling the stories of those who died while in the service of the country during wartime.

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