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St. Patrick’s Day: Irish-Americans in the U.S. Navy

From  Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

Today we celebrate St. Patrick’s day by taking a brief look at the contributions of Navy’s well known Irish-Americans Sailors. We think you’ll enjoy reading about the few we picked, but let us know about the Irish-American Sailors you think did a great job representing our Navy!


John Barry

As a young man, John Barry was active in the seagoing trade and had command of many Continental Navy vessels. After the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783, Barry was appointed the senior Captain of the newly established United States Navy and subsequently was in charge of constructing the large frigate United States. Capt. Barry commanded the new ship in the West Indies during the 1798-1801 Quasi-War with France, including a period as Commodore of U.S. Navy forces in the region. He died in 1803 in Philadelphia.


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The Sullivan Brothers

After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the five Sullivan brothers enlisted in the U.S. Navy to do their part for their country. They were insistent that they be assigned duty on the same ship, USS Juneau (CL 52). In early 1942, the Juneau was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and all five brothers were lost. Years later, their mother would help launch USS The Sullivans (DD 537).The Sullivan Brothers

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John F. Kennedy

Before he was President of the United States, John F. Kennedy was  an officer in the U.S. Navy during World War II.  In 1943, Torpedo patrol boat 109 (PT 109), commanded by Lt. j.g. John F. Kennedy, is rammed by the Japanese destroyer, Amagiri, which cuts through the small craft at Blackett Strait near Kolombangara Island. Abandoning ship, Kennedy leads his men to swim to an island a few miles away. With the aid of a Coastwatcher and local residents, they receive medical attention and return to service.

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John Holland

John Holland’s submarine, Holland IV, performs the first successful diving and surfacing tests off Staten Island, N.Y. Acquired by the U.S. Navy, she is commissioned in October of 1900. Operating in the Chesapeake Bay and Norfolk, Va., she is an experimental vessel and a great achievement in undersea warfare.

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