Friday, April 29, 2016

April 29: Medal of Honor awardee remembered with new, correct headstone at St. Es

On Friday, April 29 at 11:00 am, local and federal leaders will unveil the new headstone at the grave of Joseph B. Noil, a Medal of Honor recipient buried for decades in the Saint Elizabeths Hospital cemetery under a misspelled name (Joseph B. Noel).   Don Morfe, who researches and photographs Medal Of Honor Recipient gravesites, discovered the grave (plot: East Campus, Section 3, Row 3, Site 535).

Honoring Noil will be Dr. Tanya A. Royster, Director of the Department of Behavioral Health; Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton; Director of the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs Tammi Lambert; officials from the Embassy of Canada; and representatives of the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Noil received the honor for saving Boatswain J. C. Walton from drowning while serving on board the U.S.S. Powhatan at Norfolk, 26 December 1872.   Noil was a Seaman at the time.   Noil is one of the 90 African Americans awarded the Medal of Honor.   To date, 3,470 medals have been awarded.

Noil continued to serve in the U.S. Navy with distinction, rising to the ranking of Captain of the Hold, serving on the U.S.S. Wyoming.   According to Wikipedia's Joseph B. Noil article,

Joseph B. Noil enlisted in the Navy from New York; when he re-enlisted for a three-year hitch on December 29, 1874, he was described as thirty-four years old, born in Nova Scotia and a "Negro". His civilian occupation was as a caulker, and he was five feet, six inches tall.[1]

In 1881, Noil was admitted to Saint Elizabeths Hospital with paralysis.   He died March 21, 1882.

Noil emigrated from Nova Scotia, Canada.   He enlisted in the Navy in 1871. [Updated enlistment date 4/29, 10a]

To participate, go to the Saint Elizabeths Hospital Cemetery (1100 Alabama Ave SE); enter the cemetery on Bruce Pl SE.

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