The Minister for Defence Tony Killeen TD, was in Ballinrobe this week to unveil a seven feet memorial sculpture in honour of John King, a Mayo man who was awarded two Congressional Medals of Honour for his service to the American navy.
Mr King was also one of only 19 men to receive two Congressional Medals of Honour in his lifetime. A ‘John King Association’ already exists in America and the ceremony this week marked the first time for the US marine to be honoured in his native county. The seven-feet bronze statue at The Cornmarket was sculpted by the renowned sculpture Rick Lewis.
John King was born in Currabee, Ballinrobe, in 1862. He emigrated to the United States as a young man and enlisted in the American navy in 1893 where he served for 26 years, first in the USS Vicksburg working in the boiler rooms of 13 naval vessels. He was discharged in 1916 but recalled in 1917 following the outbreak of World War One. He served two more years and received his final discharge in 1919.
“It is a fitting tribute to honour such a remarkable man,” Minister Killeen stated. “John King received the Congressional Medal of Honour on two occasions. It is America’s most important award to a person during their lifetime. His story is truly fascinating.”
John King died in 1938 in the USA and is buried in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The US guided missile armed destroyer, the USS John King (DDG-3 ) named after him, was commissioned in 1961. Minister Killeen paid tribute to all those involved in organising the ceremony for this great hero.