“Born in St. Lucas, Iowa,
Father Aloysius H. Schmitt
studied at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa and graduated in 1932. He then studied in Rome for the priesthood. He was ordained on December 8, 1935. Father Schmitt was first assigned as an associate at Saint Mary’s Church in Dubuque. After four years, he received permission to become a chaplain, and joined the United States Navy. He was appointed Acting Chaplain with rank of Lieutenant, Junior Grade on June 28, 1939.
On December 7, 1941, Father Schmitt was serving on board the battleship USS Oklahoma during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, when a hit caused the ship to capsize. A number of sailors, including Fr. Schmitt, were trapped in a compartment with only a small porthole as the means of escape. Father Schmitt helped a number of men through this porthole. When it came his time to leave, he declined and helped more men escape. In total, he helped 12 men escape.
Fr. Schmitt died on board the Oklahoma. He was the first chaplain of any faith to have died in World War II.”