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John F. Auer
Born 1866
Died 1951 (aged 84–85)
Place of birth Nyack, New York
Place of death Nyack, New York
Place of burial Oak Hill Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service c. 1882-c.1887
Rank Seaman Apprentice
Unit USS Lancaster
Awards Medal of Honor

John F. Auer (1866-May 28, 1951) was a sailor in the United States Navy who was one of 193 people received the Medal of Honor during peacetime,[1] a practice no longer authorized by law, and one of only 3,449 recipients of the award.[2]

Early life and naval serviceEdit

Auer was born in 1866 in Nyack, New York, the fifth of five children of Joseph Auer, a stable owner and harness maker.[3] When he was sixteen years old, Auer joined the United States Navy because he wanted to see the world.[4] After completing basic training he was assigned to the USS Lancaster, the flagship of the European Squadron as a Seaman Apprentice. On November 20, 1883, while the Lancaster was in port in Marseille, France, a young Frenchman who was on a stone pier astern of the Lancaster fell overboard, and disappeared below the water twice. Seeing him, and realizing that the boy could not swim, Auer jumped into the water together with Boatswain's Mate Matthew Gillick, and they were able to rescue the boy.[5] For their heroism, both Auer and Gillick were awarded the United States' highest military decoration for gallantry, the Medal of Honor, on February 2, 1884. Before Seaman Auer left the Navy, the medal was stolen,[3] though he wore the ribbon (and retained the citation) until his final years.[3]

Later lifeEdit

Auer served in the Navy for five years, after which he returned to his native Nyack. He worked as a letter carrier at Nyack's post office, and kept the same route for over twenty years. Auer died on May 28, 1951, and was survived by his two sons. He was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Nyack.[3] His grave can be found in section K, lot 139.

Medal of Honor citationEdit

Rank and organization: Ordinary Seaman Apprentice, U.S. Navy. Born: 1866, New York. Accredited to: New York.


On board the U.S.S. Lancaster, Marseille, France, 20 November 1883. Jumping overboard, Auer rescued from drowning a French lad who had fallen into the sea from a stone pier astern of the ship.

See alsoEdit


  1. [1] The Hall of Heroes; accessed December 6, 2009.
  2. Congressional Medal of Honor Society Statistics, Page; accessed December 6, 2009
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 John F. Auer, Holder of Congressional Medal of Honor, Dies at Nyack Home, Nyack Journal News March 28, 1951
  4. [2] Nyack Villager; November 2009 issue
  5. [3] U.S. Army listing of Medal of Honor citations

External linksEdit

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