In 1925, Chief Petty Officer Frank Louis Hunter dove into the South China Sea in the midst of a typhoon to rescue a fellow U.S. Navy sailor that had been swept overboard by raging seas. Upon discovering this about his great-grandfather, attorney Franklin Wilks — a resident of the Ninevah neighborhood in Sag Harbor and member of the Eastville Historical Society — began pursuing a posthumous Medal of Honor for Mr. Hunter.
While pursuing an award for a Medal of Honor from the U.S. Navy, on Wednesday, February 28, members of Mr. Hunters family gathered in Albany where he was posthumously honored with a legislative resolution for 33 years of service in the Navy — he enlisted in 1902 in Boston, retired in 1932, but was called back to duty during World War II — as well as his heroism, with his great, great granddaughter, Nia Arnold, in attendance.
“During his illustrious service, CPO Frank Louis Hunter was aboard 18 battleships and destroyers, including a minesweeping ship on which he helped clear munitions from the English Channel at the end of World War II,” reads the resolution, read by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. “On September 16, 1925, Michael J. Sullivan, Fireman First Class, United States Navy, was trying to maneuver along the deck when he fell overboard from the Destroyer USS Peary. Due to lethal conditions, the Commander ordered the rescue crew to stand down. CPO Frank Louis Hunter, on board the nearby USS Pillsbury, did not stand down. He saw the fireman struggling, and without hesitation, jumped into the treacherous waters of the South China Sea, without a tether rope, to try to save him, prompting two other sailors to tether themselves and go into the water to assist in the rescue.”
While Mr. Sullivan was pulled aboard, Mr. Hunter was pulled down by two crashing waves, rescued by sailors who fired a rope gun his way, and hauled him aboard. Fireman Sullivan succumbed to head wounds sustained when he fell overboard.
“At great peril to his own life, CPO Frank Louis Hunter’s heroic and selfless effort to save a fellow sailor should be commended,” reads the resolution. “He truly exhibited a genuine concern for others when he put the needs and well-being of Fireman Michael J. Sullivan before his own in this dangerous and deadly situation; and having exhibited his patriotism both at home and abroad, CPO Frank Louis Hunter demonstrated his love for his country and merits
forevermore, the highest respect of this State and Nation.”