Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice

    Description

    Silver Lifesaving Medal 44mm Awarded to Virgil Smith and Recovered after Pearl Harbor.
    A Treasury Silver Life Saving Medal, with replaced eagle suspension bar and brooch, engraved "To Virgil Smith for bravery rescuing a shipmate from drowning, February 16, 1934". The actual medal shows substantial pitting from being in sea water for sometime. The condition of a medal can play an important role in whether or not a collector decides it fits into his or hers collection. Most collectors will shy away from a metal that shows obvious signs of abuse or odd condition problems. But, here's an example where condition plays a major role in the medal's story.

    Virgil Smith enlisted in the service in 1930. The official account of Smith's actions are as follows: On February 16, 1934, while preparations were being made on the USS Texas to send a diver down from the bow to work on some chains there was a heavy swell which caused the ship to roll considerably. During one of these rolls the port gunwhale of the motor launch which contained the diver caught under the scupper lip. This movement careened the motor launch over and began to take on water, and at the same time throw several men into the water. One seaman, Seaman W.E. Baker, had a rubber suit on which began to take on water. When Smith saw this he wrapped his legs around Baker bringing him to safety. If Smith did not do this Baker would have certainly drowned. Albeit this happened in 1934, Smith did not receive this Life Saving medal until January 1941.

    In December 1941 Smith assigned aboard the USS Oklahoma and was present when the Japanese attacked on December 7. He survived, but all his personal effects went down with the ship. Smith continued his service helping repair the USS Enterprise and USS South Dakota. In 1943 the Oklahoma was refloated, and that is when Smith was able to retrieve his belongings, including his Life Saving medal. Because Smith was a diver himself, and participated in salvage efforts, he might have retrieved the medal himself from the salvaged Oklahoma.

    Yes, the medal itself has condition issues, but the story certainly outweighs those concerns in our opinion.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2020
    6th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 483

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $300,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $300,000 and $3,000,000, plus 12.5% of any amount over $3,000,000 per lot.

    Sold on Dec 6, 2020 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    VIEW BENEFITS
    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
      winnings 
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2022 February 11 Manuscripts Signature® Auction .

    Learn about consigning with us

    The pre and post sales experience was wonderful and flawless. Heritage has the best in-house operation I have ever seen and their people are not only professional but fun to work with, especially Steve C.

    As for Heritage's online system… Yes the interface is more complex than what we are used to with SAN but what is behind that interface is amazing for sellers and buyers alike. It is real time and for a real serious auction buyer there is nothing better in the auction industry, bar none.
    Ron Cipolla,
    AZ
    View More Testimonials

    HA.com receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source: Similarweb.com)

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search