Father Joseph Timothy O'Callahan, SJ
(1905 -1964)
Medal of Honor Recipient



Postmark from the USS Father Joseph Timothy O'Callahan, SJ
THE UNITED STATES, 1968, postmarked on the First Day of Commission from the USS O'Callaghan, a Garcia Class Destroyer Escort
For many other postmarks from the O'Callahan see the Naval Cover Museum
The ship is named after Jesuit Father Joseph T. O'Callahan, SJ

Joseph Timothy O'Callahan was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated from Boston College High School in 1922, and entered the Jesuits shortly thereafter. He was ordained in 1934. He taught mathematics, philosophy, andphysics at Boston College from 1927 to 1937, philosophy from 1937-1938 at Weston College, Weston, MA, and was director of the Mathematics Department at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA from 1938 to 1940. Appointed lieutenant (jg) in the Chaplain Corps of the US Navy Reserve on August 7, 1940, Chaplain O'Callahan advanced progressively in rank and attained that of commander in July 1945.

While he served as chaplain aboard the USS Franklin, the ship was attacked on March 19, 1945. O'Callahan ministered to the wounded and dying, organized sailors in carrying hot bombs and shells to the edge of the deck for jettisoning, and personally led over 700 crewmen from below decks to safety. For this action he was awarded the Medal of Honor. He described the events of the day in his book, I Was Chaplain on the Franklin. Fr. O'Callahan returned to Holy Cross in the fall of 1948 as a philosophy professor. He died on March 16, 1964, and is buried in the Jesuit cemetery on campus. The medal and citation, both now in the Holy Cross archives, were presented at the White House by President Harry S. Truman in 1946. The full citation reads:

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as chaplain on board the USS Franklin when that vessel was fiercely attacked by enemy Japanese aircraft during offensive operations near Kobe, Japan, on 19 March 1945. A valiant and forceful leader, calmly braving the perilous barriers of flame and twisted metal to aid his men and his ship, Lt. Comdr. O'Callahan groped his way through smoke-filled corridors to the open flight deck and into the midst of violently exploding bombs, shells, rockets, and other armament. With the ship rocked by incessant explosions, with debris and fragments raining down and fires raging in ever-increasing fury, he ministered to the wounded and dying, comforting and encouraging men of all faiths; he organized and led firefighting crews into the blazing inferno on the flight deck; he directed the jettisoning of live ammunition and the flooding of the magazine; he manned a hose to cool hot, armed bombs rolling dangerously on the listing deck, continuing his efforts, despite searing, suffocating smoke which forced men to fall back gasping and imperiled others who replaced them. Serving with courage, fortitude, and deep spiritual strength, Lt. Comdr. O'Callahan inspired the gallant officers and men of the Franklin to fight heroically and with profound faith in the face of almost certain death and to return their stricken ship to port." More