Mystery at the Hospital

Dennis Riley 1 year, 9 months ago

Recently during an assessment of the Main Hospital building, workers found a Purple Heart that had been placed in the attic.

The medal is part of a handmade plaque attached to a roof rafter in the hospital’s south wing.  The box that came with the medal was also there.  Two subway tokens also accompany this tribute. 

The plaque includes the names of four individuals: Jerry, Mike, Pat, and Marissa, as well as the name of the escort aircraft carrier USS Sangamon (CVE-26).  The plaque also includes the year 1925 and a “#90” and other unknown symbols carved into it.

The Naval Hospital served in that capacity from 1838 until 1948, although the Navy maintained a presence on site until 1989.

USS Sangamon (CVE-26) was originally built as an oiler in 1939 by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Kearny, New Jersey and was operated by the Standard Oil Company before being acquired by the U.S. Navy in 1940.

In early 1942, Sangamon was designated for conversion to an auxiliary aircraft carrier and this conversion occurred at the Norfolk Navy Yard.  She was recommnissioned on August 24, 1942 and supported the American landings in North Africa during Operation Torch later that year. 

The Sangamon subsequently transferred to the Pacific Theater where she served with distinction throughout the remainder of World War II, including in the New Caledonia-New Hebrides-Solomon Islands area, Kwajalein, Enewetak, the Palaus, the Philippines, and the Ryukyus. 

On May 4, 1946, the Sangamon suffered a kamikaze attack which killed 11 and seriously wounded 21, with an additional 25 individuals reported missing.  She was decommissioned after the war on October 24, 1945.  For her service, the USS Sangamon received eight battle stars and each of its three air groups was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

We would love to know more about this spectacular find, so if you have any ideas or thoughts please contact

Photo Credit: All photos of the USS Sangamon are from the Navy History and Heritage Command.