Police seek stolen commemorative watch given to Medal of Honor recipient

By PATTY HASTINGS | The (Vancouver, Wash.) Columbian | Published: June 7, 2014

A U.S. Navy officer’s commemorative watch, given to him as part of his Medal of Honor award during World War II, has gone missing.

Vancouver police reached out to the community on the 70th anniversary of D-Day in hopes of recovering the late Lt. Donald K. Ross’s watch, stolen from his daughter’s house in Vancouver, Washington, at the start of the year.

Other items of military memorabilia were stolen during the Jan. 21 burglary, including the blue ribbon that held the actual Medal of Honor. The medal itself was not taken during the burglary, said Vancouver police spokeswoman Kim Kapp.

Ten days after the burglary, Vancouver police served a search warrant at a home in Clark County where they recovered most of the memorabilia, including the ribbon. The tailor-made commemorative watch, however, hasn’t been found.

A limited number of the watches were made. Ross’s was No. 14.

Ross was a chief engineer stationed at Pearl Harbor. On Dec. 7. 1941, he was aboard the USS Nevada when it was badly damaged by bombs and torpedoes. When smoke and heat made the forward dynamo room unbearable, Ross ordered his men to leave, and he performed all their duties by himself until he passed out.

After he was rescued and resuscitated, Ross went back down to his duty station — even though he was temporarily blinded. His daughter, Penny Ross, said her father could do the job blindfolded, because he’d practiced it that way. He stayed at his station until he was told to abandon it.

Donald Ross was the first person to receive the Medal of Honor in World War II. Adm. Chester Nimitz presented the medal to several servicemen at the ceremony, Penny Ross said, but “we saw the video later, and Admiral Nimitz gave it to my dad first.”

The guided missile destroyer USS Ross, launched in 1997, was named in his honor.

Speaking at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1991, during ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the Japanese air raid, Capt. Donald Kirby Ross is seen wearing the Medal of Honor he received for heroism while serving on board USS Nevada during the attack.


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