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Veteran Of The Day – Navy Veteran William Badders

Veteran Of The Day – Navy Veteran William Badders

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May 23, 2022
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Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Navy Veteran William Badders, who served as a master diver between the first and second World Wars.

William Badders was born in September 1900 in Harrisburg, Illinois. In 1918, just before turning 17, Badders entered the U.S. Navy Reserve. The next year, he transferred to active duty in the Navy. Badders underwent training as a diver, and in 1926, he participated in the salvage and rescue operation of USS S-51 that had collided with a merchant steamer ship, which led to him receiving a Navy Cross. He received commendations for his involvement in the salvage efforts of USS S-4 in 1928 and the Japanese steamship Karu Maru in 1932, and for clearing the propeller of the minesweeper USS Bittern in 1933. Badders was designated a master diver in 1931.

While stationed aboard USS Falcon, a rescue and salvage vessel, Badders aided in the rescue and salvage operations of USS Squalus in May 1939. USS Squalus sunk off the coast of New Hampshire near Portsmouth. It was a newly commissioned submarine, built at the Navy Yard in Portsmouth and sank due to a valve failure during testing. Of the 59 men aboard the submarine, 33 survived. The location of the wreckage made the rescue and salvage operations much more dangerous to Badder and the other rescue divers. Badder’s Medal of Honor citation states that he made the decision to perform “dangerous dives under ‘the most hazardous conditions’ in order to save lives.”

For his actions during the rescue and salvage operation of USS Squalus, Badders received a Congressional Medal of Honor. The medal was presented to him in Washington, D.C., by Secretary of the Navy Charles Edison in January 1940. Three other divers involved in the rescue and salvage operation also received a Medal of Honor. Later that year, Badders transferred to the Fleet Reserve at the rank of chief petty officer first class.

Badders died in 1986 at the age of 86. He is buried at San Francisco National Cemetery in California. He is remembered by his wife, Lavinia, and their two children.

We honor his service.

Carry the Load

In 2022, VA is joining forces with Carry The Load to honor veterans during the “Memorial May” March, a national relay visiting 50 VA national cemeteries to honor our nation’s fallen service members. A link to this webpage is here. The complete list of participating cemeteries can be found here. Volunteers are encouraged to register in advance.

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.

Veterans History Project

This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at

Writer: Jack Patterson

Editors: Theresa Lyon, Annabelle Colton

Researchers: Jake Halderson, Giacomo Ferrari

Graphic Designer: Brittany Gorski

Project Manager: Oasis Diaz


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