Emil Fredreksen won highest honor for heroic actions during gunboat explosion in San Diego in 1905.
A 1906 Medal of Honor recipient who was quietly buried in Seattle more than 60 years ago without ceremony or a headstone will receive full military honors at a graveside service in Seattle on Friday.
Emil Fredreksen was one of 11 men awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions aboard the gunboat USS Bennington in San Diego in 1905.
The Danish immigrant died in 1950 at the U.S. Marine Hospital in Seattle. With no known next of kin, he was buried at Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park in Seattle, the Kitsap Sun reported.
He was forgotten until January, when Ray Johnston, a member of the Medal of Honor Historical Society, tracked down Fredreksen’s location through pension records.
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Cemetery workers followed a plot map to where Fredreksen was recorded to rest. They dug down about 4 inches and uncovered a temporary marker. It read “E. Fredreksen, 1867-1950.”
Fredreksen and his gravesite will be recognized and honored at a 2 p.m. ceremony that is open to the public.
Ronald Roberts, funeral-honors program manager for Navy Region Northwest, will oversee the honors, which will include a rifle detail, flagpole team, bugler and chaplain.
Once the Medal of Honor Historical Society locates recipients, it typically buys a marker. But in this case, Johnston says it wasn’t necessary because the cemetery agreed to get a marker and have a ceremony.
“My job’s done; I located him,” Johnston said of Fredreksen. “The kudos go to the community for holding a ceremony to honor the gent who really deserves it.”
The whereabouts of 376 of 3,471 Medal of Honor recipients remain unknown.
Fredreksen was born in Copenhagen in 1867, immigrated to the United States when he was 17 and enlisted in the Navy in 1897.
He served on more than 20 ships, in roles as boilermaker, fireman and quartermaster. His highest rank was chief watertender, which was responsible for tending to fires and boilers in a ship’s engine room.
Fredreksen received a peacetime Medal of Honor for his actions when a boiler exploded on the USS Bennington. Of the 179 men aboard, 66 died and 46 were seriously wounded. Fredreksen was commended for “extraordinary heroism displayed in the line of duty.”
“Eleven men earned the Navy Medal of Honor for actions on July 21, 1905, and Chief Fredreksen was one of those men, so we are fortunate to tell a story about the Navy’s history, as well as a day in the life of a Navy hero,” Navy Region Northwest spokeswoman Sheila Murray told The Sun.