John Henry “Dick” Turpin can be described as many things; among these are dedicated and brave. While those qualities may be true and endearing, he is also a survivor and trailblazer. You see, Turpin is best known for some of the most infamous naval events pre-WWI. After surviving the sinking of the USS Maine in 1898, and a boiler blast aboard USS Bennington in 1905, Turpin left the Navy in 1916 at the start of WWI, only to be recalled in 1917. Turpin re-entered service and went on to become a gunner’s mate and one of the Navy’s first Black chief petty officers before retiring from naval service in 1925.
While impressive feats in their own right, Turpin’s dedication continued post-retirement. His passion for the Navy led him to employment at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, in Bremerton, Wash., where he was a master rigger and also qualified as a master diver.
Check out the video below to get a clearer picture of a man who, in many ways, epitomizes the foundation of Navy Ethos.