|Born||14 May 1905|
|Died||18 Mar 1964|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseJoseph Timothy O'Callahan was born in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. He graduated from Boston College Preparatory School in 1922, and entered the Jesuit Order of the Roman Catholic Church shortly thereafter. He received his bachelor's degree in 1925, master's degree in 1929, and became ordained in the Jesuit Order on 30 Jun 1934. Between 1927 and 1937, he was a professor of Mathematics, Philosophy, and Physics at Boston College. Between 1937 and 1938, he was a professor of Philosophy at the Jesuit seminary of Weston College in Massachusetts. Between 1938 and 1940, he was the Director of the Mathematics Department at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts. On 7 Aug 1940, Father O'Callahan was commissioned a lieutenant (jg) in the United States Naval Reserve Chaplain Corps, assigned to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, United States. He was at Pensacola when the United States entered the war.
ww2dbaseIn 1942, O'Callahan was assigned to the aircraft carrier Ranger, serving off Norway and French Morocco. Between 1944 and Mar 1945, he served at the Naval Air Stations at Alameda, California and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, both in the United States. On 12 Feb 1945, he came aboard the aircraft carrier Franklin. He was described as someone who was "charismatic" and possessed a certain "dash" or "flair". While many of the men of Franklin despise the arrogant Captain Leslie Gehres, O'Callahan became someone who they could turn to. Many called him "Father Joe."
ww2dbaseOn 19 Mar, while only 50 miles off the Japanese home islands as indirect support for the Okinawa campaign, the carrier was attacked by a single dive bomber, either a D4Y or a D3A aircraft. Two 250-kilogram bombs hit the carrier, igniting fires and leaving the ship dead in the water with a 13-degree list. Lieutenant Commander O'Callahan was in the thick of the raging fires, comforting his injured comrades and administering last rites to the dying while assisting with damage control tasks, despite also being wounded. US Marine Corps pilot Mike Sansone helped manning fire hoses in a makeshift firefighting team led by O'Callahan; he recalled him bravely lead teams into the fire, safely bring them out when explosions got too dangerous, and inspire the men to go back in again when the shrapnels stopped flying. "If it wasn't for him", said Sansone, "who knows what would have happened, because there wasn't any leadership on the flight deck.... [H]e couldn't be everyplace at once, though it seemed like he was." He also went down deep into the ship several times to lead over 700 men to safety. Franklin's commanding officer, Captain Leslie Gehres, described O'Callahan as "the bravest man I ever saw". He was recommended for, and received, the Medal of Honor. The citation read:
ww2dbaseO'Callahan was promoted to the rank of commander in Jul 1945 and transferred to the Navy Department and then to the Naval Training Station, Newport, Rhode Island, United States, through the end of the war. In Oct 1945, he was assigned to the newly commissioned aircraft carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1946, he served as Escort Chaplain as the body of the late Filipino President Manuel Quezon was carried from the United States to Manila, Philippine Islands. Released from active duty in Nov 1946, he returned to his civilian profession as a professor at Holy Cross College. He retired from the United States Naval Reserves in Nov 1953 and was promoted to the rank of captain on the retired list. He passed away at Worcester, Massachusetts in 1964.
ww2dbaseThe destroyer escort USS O'Callahan was commissioned in 1968 in his honor.
ww2dbaseSources: Inferno, United States Navy Naval Historical Center, Wikipedia.
Last Major Revision: Nov 2007
Joseph O'Callahan Timeline
|14 May 1905||Joseph O'Callahan was born.|
|18 Mar 1964||Joseph O'Callahan passed away in Worcester, Massachusetts, United States.|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945