CARY, ROBERT W.
Rank and organization: Lieutenant Commander, U.S.
Navy, U.S.S. San Diego. Place and date: Aboard U.S.S. San Diego, 21 January 1915.
Entered service at: Buncston, Mo. Birth: Kansas City, Mo.
For extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession on the occasion of an explosion on
board the U.S.S. San Diego, 21 January 1915. Lt. Comdr. Cary (then Ensign), U.S. Navy, an
observer on duty in the firerooms of the U.S.S. San Diego, commenced to take the
half-hourly readings of the steam pressure at every boiler. He had read the steam and air
pressure on No. 2 boiler and was just stepping through the electric watertight door into
No. 1 fireroom when the boilers in No. 2 fireroom exploded. Ens. Cary stopped and held
open the doors which were being closed electrically from the bridge, and yelled to the men
in No. 2 fireroom to escape through these doors, which 3 of them did. Ens. Cary's action
undoubtedly saved the lives of these men. He held the doors probably a minute with the
escaping steam from the ruptured boilers around him. His example of coolness did much to
keep the men in No. 1 fireroom at their posts hauling fires, although 5 boilers in their
immediate vicinity had exploded and boilers Nos. 1 and 3 apparently had no water in them
and were likely to explode any instant. When these fires were hauled under Nos. 1 and 3
boilers, Ens. Cary directed the men in this fireroom into the bunker, for they well knew
the danger of these 2 boilers exploding. During the entire time Ens. Cary was cool and
collected and showed an abundance of nerve under the most trying circumstances. His action
on this occasion was above and beyond the call of duty.