U.S. Naval Academy Class Rings

Graduates Remembered

Rear Admiral Benton Clark Decker

Decker
Midshipman Benton Decker

In 1936, Rear Admiral Benton Clark Decker’s class ring was donated to the Naval Academy museum by his son Benton Weaver Decker (USNA 1920), who went on to be a Rear Admiral. Rear Admiral Decker’s ring was manufactured by Black, Starr & Frost-Gorham.[1]

Rear Admiral Benton Clark Decker was born December 14, 1867 in Lima, New York. He was a veteran of the Spanish American War, serving aboard the battleship USS Indiana. In 1912, he commanded the light cruiser USS Chester (CL-1) which escorted RMS Carpathia back to New York, after Carpathia rescued the RMS Titanic survivors.[2] In 1914, Captain Decker was commanding officer of the armored cruiser USS Tennessee. Tennessee took $5,867,000 in gold for relief of an American tourist stranded in Europe. In August 1914 Tennessee returned to the Mediterranean, where she conducted humanitarian missions and otherwise "showed the flag" as the First World War spread through Europe and into the Turkish Empire. Back in the United States by August 1915, she carried Marines to Haiti and stayed off-shore assisting in supply and policing operations. The Tennessee also transported Secretary of the Treasury William G. McAdoo and other dignitaries on a South American cruise in March-May 1916.[3]

He served as a Naval Attaché to Spain following America’s entrance into World War I and received the Navy Cross for his service. He refused the award as “insufficient” and was subsequently relieved of his duties for insubordination. He died on March 21, 1933 in Riverside, California at the age of 65 and is buried in Berkeley, California.[4]

Navy Cross

Awarded for actions during the World War I:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Captain Benton Clark Decker, United States Navy, for distinguished service in the line of his profession as Naval Attaché at Madrid, Spain, where he established an Office of Naval Intelligence through which he kept informed of the movements of all suspicious persons leaving Spain, and by his unceasing vigilance was the means of apprehending and interning many dangerous characters.[5]

References

[1] United States Naval Academy Museum card file of Curator James Cheevers, retrieved January 7, 2014.

[2] Staff Writer, "Survivors Give Public First Harrowing Details of Disaster," The Denver Post, (Denver, CO), April 18, 1912.

[3] "USS Tennessee (Armored Cruiser #10), 1906-1916," Navy Historical Center, accessed May 5, 2016, http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/OnlineLibrary/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-t/acr10.htm.

[4] United States Naval Academy Alumni Association, Inc., 2013 Register of Alumni, (Chesapeake, VA: Harris Connect, 2012), A7.

[5] "Hall of Valor," militarytimes.com, accessed May 5, 2016, http://valor.militarytimes.com/recipient.php?recipientid=9330.