By Woodrow Polston
Members of Laddonia city government traveled to Mexico last week to discuss plans for the dedication ceremony of the Medal of Honor sign that is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 7, at Community R-VI high school. The new sign, which is the first of its kind, will honor Rear Admiral Samuel G. Fuqua and be placed on Hwy. 54 in Laddonia. Other participants present included members of the National Society of the Sons of the American revolution representatives from Community R-VI School District, and other Audrain County officials. SAR member Edward Gray gave a brief history of the initiative.
“This all started when then Lt. Governor Mike Parson and Sam Bushman went out to transfer the USS Missouri from Connecticut to Pearl Harbor. It was brought up that something needed to be done to recognize Medal of Honor recipients in the state of Missouri. The program ended up in the lieutenant governor’s office. The initiative was born from the desire to recognize all Medal of Honor recipients in the state. The idea includes placing the signs at the various city limits where they would be recognized. This required legislation with both the house and the senate to allow the Missouri Department of Transportation to carry out the program. We incorporated the name a highway program and this sign, which will be erected on Dec. 7, will be the first one of its kind.” he added.
Samuel Glenn Fuqua was born in Laddonia on Oct. 15, 1899. He attended public schools in Laddonia and spent one year at the University of Missouri before serving one year with the U.S. Army during World War 1. On July 1, 1919, he entered the U. S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md, as a midshipman. On June 8, 1923, he was graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Science, and commissioned Ensign in the U. S. Navy. After graduation from the Navalk Academy he spent seven years at sea, attached successively to the USS Arizona, USS McDonough, and the USS Mississippi. Fuqua progressed to the rank of captain and was transferred to the Retired List of the Navy on June 30, 1953, with rank of rear admiral.
Fuqua’s official Medal of Honor citation reads: For distinguished conduct in action, outstanding heroism, and utter disregard of his own safety, above and beyond the call of duty during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Upon the commencement of the attack, Lieutenant Commander Fuqua rushed to the quarterdeck of the USS Arizona to which he was attached where he was stunned and knocked down by the explosion of a large bomb which hit the quarterdeck, penetrated several decks, and started a severe fire. Upon regaining consciousness, he began to direct the fighting of the fire and the rescue of wounded and injured personnel. Almost immediately there was a tremendous explosion forward, which made the ship appear to rise out of the water, shudder and settle down by the bow rapidly. The whole forward part of the ship was enveloped in flames which were spreading rapidly, and wounded and burned men were pouring out of the ship to the quarterdeck. Despite these conditions, his harrowing experience, and severe enemy bombing and strafing, at the time, Lieutenant Commander Fuqua continued to direct the fighting of fires in order to check them while the wounded and burned could be taken from the ship, and supervised the rescue of these men in such an amazingly calm and cool manner and with such excellent judgment, that it inspired everyone who saw him and undoubtedly resulted in the saving of many lives. After realizing that the ship could not be saved and that he was the senior surviving officer aboard, he directed that it be abandoned, but continued to remain on the quarterdeck and directed abandoning ship and rescue of personnel until satisfied that all personnel that could be had been saved, after which he left the ship with the last boatload. The conduct of Lieutenant Commander Fuqua was not only in keeping with the highest traditions of the Naval Service but characterizes him as an outstanding leader of men.
Members of the planning group have tentatively scheduled the ceremony to be held at Community R-VI on Wednesday, Dec. 7, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. More information will be made available in the coming weeks.