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Tale of a Heroic Sailor: Ensign Stannus’ M1911A1

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Robert “Dickie” Stannus was , in technical terms, a total stud. So much so that he was awarded an inscribed M1911A1 directly by Colt as a prize for being the top sailor in his Naval Academy class. He got the privilege of choosing what ship he would be assigned to, and chose the USS Bear, an assault transport. On its 1959 cruise from Yokosuka for exercises, it encountered Typhoon Ellen, one of the strongest recorded storms of the century. When one of the Bexar’s Marines was washed overboard, Stannus dove into the surging waves to save the man – and did so successfully. As the Marine was being hauled back on board, though, the ship took a roll and Stannus was drowned beneath the hull.

Stannus’ Naval Academy memorial page:,_ENS,_USN

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