digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















John Henry "Dick" Turpin
CPM John Henry Turpin.jpg
John Henry Turpin
Born 20 August 1876
Died 10 March 1962(1962-03-10) (aged 85)
Bremerton, Washington
Allegiance United States United States
Service/branch  United States Navy
Rank Chief Gunner's Mate, 1917
Battles/wars Spanish–American War
Boxer Rebellion
World War I

John Henry "Dick" Turpin (20 August 1876 – 10 March 1962) was a sailor in the United States Navy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Turpin was one of the first African American Chief Petty Officers in the U.S. Navy. He is also notable for surviving the catastrophic explosions of two U.S. Navy ships: USS Maine in 1898, and USS Bennington in 1905.


Turpin was born on 20 August 1876 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy in New York City on 4 November 1896.[1] He was a Mess Attendant on Maine when it exploded in Havana under mysterious circumstances on the night of 15 February 1898. Turpin was in the pantry of the wardroom when the explosion occurred, and felt the ship "heave and lift" before all went dark. He worked his way aft and climbed out of the wardroom on the captain's ladder and up onto the deck.[2] He dove overboard and was rescued by a motor launch.[3] Turpin was one of 90 out of the 350 officers and men aboard Maine that night to survive the explosion.[4]

According to an obituary that appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Turpin (whose next ship assignment was not reported) saw action in China during the 1900 Boxer Rebellion. By mid-1905, Turpin had been assigned to the gunboat Bennington. When that ship was raising steam for a departure from San Diego, California, on 21 July 1905, she suffered a boiler explosion that sent men and machinery into the air and killed 66 of the 102 men aboard.[5] Turpin reportedly saved three officers and twelve men by swimming them to shore one at a time.[3] Eleven men were awarded the Medal of Honor for "extraordinary heroism displayed at the time of the explosion",[6] but Turpin was not among them.[7] Turpin served on several other ships before leaving active duty service in 1916.[1]

After the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Turpin was recalled to service. On 1 June 1917, he became a Chief Gunner's Mate on the cruiser Marblehead, which made him among the first African American Chief Petty Officers in the U.S. Navy.[1] Turpin served at that rank until he was transferred to the Fleet Reserve in March 1919. In October 1925, Turpin retired at the rank of Chief Gunner's Mate.[1]

During his time in the Navy, he was the Navy boxing champion in several different weight classifications throughout is Navy career and was a boxing instructor at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.[3] When he was not on active duty, Turpin was employed as a Master Rigger at the Puget Sound Navy Yard in Bremerton, Washington; he was also qualified as a Master Diver in his civilian duties. During World War II, Turpin voluntarily toured Navy training facilities and defense plants to make "inspirational visits".[1]


Turpin died in Bremerton, Washington on 10 March 1962. He was survived by his wife Faye Alice.[3]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.
  1. ^ a b c d e "John Henry ("Dick") Turpin, Chief Gunner's Mate, USN. (1876–1962)". Online Library of Selected Images: People. Navy Department, Naval Historical Center. 27 February 2005. Retrieved 21 April 2009. 
  2. ^ Sigsbee, Charles Dwight (December 1898). "Personal narrative of the "Maine" by her commander, Captain Charles Dwight Sigsbee, U. S. N.". Century Illustrated Magazine LVII (2): 254. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Survivor of Maine sinking dies at age 96". Los Angeles Times ( [sic]). 11 Mar 1962. p. J10. 
  4. ^ "Maine". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History & Heritage Command. Retrieved 21 April 2009. 
  5. ^ Mann, Raymond A. (8 February 2006). "Bennington". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History & Heritage Command. Retrieved 21 April 2009. 
  6. ^ "Boiler Explosion on USS Bennington, 21 July 1905". Online Library of Selected Images: Events. Navy Department, Naval Historical Center. 4 March 2005. Retrieved 21 April 2009. 
  7. ^ "Interim Awards, 1901-1911". Medal of Honor Recipients. U.S. Army Center of Military History. 27 January 2009. Retrieved 21 April 2009. 

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Henry_Turpin — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
2902 videos foundNext > 

Chief John Henry Turpin

All Hands Update Feb. 1, 2012 #1 Navy Looks Back at Legacy of John Henry Turpin.

The Legacy of John Henry Turpin

The amazing story of John Henry Turpin, a Chief Gunner's Mate in the Navy. He survived both the sinking of the USS Maine (you know, Remember the Maine!) and ...

Randy Turpin vs Don Cockell

The former middleweight champion Randy Turpin challenges the British light heavyweight champion Don Cockell.

Tom Turpin, Harlem Rag - Two Step (1897)

Performed by Mark Pedigo Description Thomas Million John Turpin (November 18, 1871 -- August 13, 1922) was an African-American composer of ragtime music. Tom...

Randy Turpin vs Sugar Ray Robinson I


Mike Turpin - To Belt or Not to Belt?

Episode 1 of the Scourge of Iron podcast featuring Mike Turpin comparing and contrasting weightlifting with and without a belt. Join the Facebook group: http...

The St Louis Rag by Tom Turpin (1903, Ragtime piano)

"The St. Louis Rag" by Tom Turpin, 1903.

World Of Sport - Jackie Turpin vs Steve Logan pt.1

81-11-07 A pure wrestling contest for the grapple fans. Download the full match courtesy Real Man's Man: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=C6M509X6.

World Of Sport - Lee Bronson vs John Henry Yearsley pt.1

77-04-30 As Kent Walton puts it, a popular man against a not so popular man.

Patrick Turpin - Chortle Student Comedy Award 2011

Patrick Turpin performing at the Sheffield heat of the Chortle Student Comedy Award 2011.

2902 videos foundNext > 

4 news items

New York Times
Thu, 23 Feb 2012 14:38:15 -0800

That includes Jesse LeRoy Brown, the first African-American naval combat pilot, who was killed during the Korean War; and John Henry Turpin, known as Dick and born in 1876, who was one of the Navy's first African-American chief petty officers and who ...
DoD Live
Tue, 19 Feb 2013 06:48:45 -0800

The Navy is honoring one of its own during African American History Month, detailing the many accomplishments of Vice Adm. Samuel Gravly in an episode of All Hands Update. In an interview his wife did for the program, Alma Gravely talks about why ...
DoD Live
Sat, 08 Sep 2012 20:33:45 -0700

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jerel Nelson, a security forces patrolman with the 20th Security Forces Squadron, 20th Fighter Wing, performs CPR on a simulated accident victim during a medical emergency scenario at the 3rd Annual Pfc. James Boyd Jr. Top Cop ...
DoD Live
Tue, 17 Jan 2012 04:11:15 -0800

Members of coalition special operations forces conduct a clearance of a compound during an operation in Akhtar village, Arghandab district, Zabul province, Afghanistan. Coalition SOF partnered with the 8th Commando Kandak to clear the village of ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!

Searchlight Group

Digplanet also receives support from Searchlight Group. Visit Searchlight