The City of Norwalk has had two of its sons be awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest United States military decoration. It is awarded by Congress to a member of the armed forces for gallantry and bravery in combat at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. Those two are John David Magrath (WWII) and Daniel John Shea (Vietnam). There was a third recipient who wasn’t born in Norwalk but lived here and raised his family here, and ultimately lost his life in Norwalk. He is:
PRIVATE HERBERT IRVING PRESTON; U.S. MARINE CORPS
August 6, 1878 (Berkeley, NJ) – December 8, 1928; 50 years old
Married to Edith L. Pennoyer Preston (1885-1958) on April 29, 1906, in Westport, CT
Sons, Harry F. (1909-1994) and Irving W. (1912-1965).
Lived at 40 First Street, East Norwalk when he registered for the draft in 1918 (WWI)
Enlisted on June 29, 1899
Assigned to League Island, Pennsylvania
Born to Joseph H. (1838-1918) and Ester “Ettie” A. Hitchcock Preston (1844-1890) of Vermont. Brothers Henry M. (1862-1914), Adam (1864-1930), Hiram (1865-1893), Wilbur F.H. (1867-1943), and Franklin C. (1873-1937). Sister Ester C. Preston Davis (1869-1930).
1910 Census: lived at 241 Main Street in Westport, CT
1920 Census: lived at 40 First Street East Norwalk, CT
Worked as a ship carpenter for Lake Torpedo Company on Seaview Avenue, Bridgeport, CT.
During the Boxer Rebellion in China (November 2, 1899 – September 7, 1901), 59 American servicemen received the Medal of Honor for their actions. Four were for Army personnel, twenty-two went to Navy sailors and the remaining thirty-three went to Marines.
Private Preston was assigned to the USS Oregon at the time of the actions resulting in him receiving the Medal Of Honor.
From The Norwalk Hour, December 10, 1928
ALTON W. “BINK” REYNOLDS DIES A HERO IN HARBOR
AS HERBERT I. PRESTON ALSO LOSES LIFE IN STORM
The body of Alton W. “Bink” Reynolds, 35, of Gregory Boulevard, one of Norwalk’s most popular residents, had been recovered today from the waters of the Norwalk harbor, where he bravely met death Saturday evening battling his way ashore in an effort to get help for his companions, Herbert I. Preston, 50, of 47 Second Street, who also lost his life, and Reynolds’ own son, Alton W. Reynolds Jr., 14 years of age, who was saved hours later from the waters off Peach Island. The body of Preston, whose numbing form was washed by a wave off an overturned ten-foot rowboat to which he and the boy were clinging, was sought by grapplers this afternoon. The boy, saved in a miraculous manner, rallied in a surprising way at the Norwalk Hospital and was to be taken home today to the grieving mother, the former Miss Hazel Blascer, who herself has been confined to the home for several weeks by illness. She collapsed upon being informed of the tragedy but rallied and it is felt that the knowledge of the son’s escape saved her from death upon receiving word of her husband’s loss.
From The Norwalk Hour December 11, 1928
The body of Herbert Preston was recovered shortly after 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon on the low tide. It was within a few hundred feet of the overturned skiff which figured in the double tragedy and which had been left anchored where it was at a market. The body was found by a searching party consisting of Alfred J. Boerum, Wallace Radfan, Captain Frederick F. Lovejoy, and Crawford Jessup. Shortly after the quartet arrived at the scene of the double fatality. Boerum, who is the proprietor of the Boerum garage, saw the body, with one hand at the surface. The body was lifted into the boat and taken to the public dock at the Washington Street drawbridge where it was removed to the funeral parlors of LeGrand Raymond.
Marker for wife Edith Preston and a memorial Marker for Herbert I. Preston are in, Riverside Cemetery, 81 Riverside Ave, Norwalk, Connecticut; Section 12, Grave 700. The footstone in the picture below is a memorial footstone (In Memory Of), and not his final resting place. Herbert Preston is buried in Norwalk Union Cemetery. More research is needed to obtain a plot number. Photos by webmaster.