The Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award for valor, is bestowed on service members who distinguish themselves by gallantry at the risk of their lives. Many service men sacrificed their lives heroically during World War II. One of the first Americans to do so was Navy Machinist's Mate 1st Class Robert R. Scott.
Scott, who was born on July 13, 1915, in Massillon, Ohio, died after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, aboard the USS California. The compartment to which Scott was assigned as a battle station was flooded after a torpedo hit. As the compartment filled with water, and the ship slowly sank in Pearl Harbor, Scott continued to operate the compressor to provide air for crew members trapped below. Though the rest of the sailors evacuated the compartment, Scott refused to leave, saying words to the effect "this is my station, and I will stay and give them air as long as the guns are going."
Scott was posthumously cited for his "conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life." He exemplifies the heroism of all those who are awarded the Medal of Honor. The Navy agreed and named a destroyer escort after Robert R. Scott. Scott is buried in Section 34, Grave Number 3939 at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA.