Civil War Wiki
William Ahern
Personal Information
Born: 1861
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: United States Navy
Union Navy
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Watertender
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Unit: USS Puritan (BM-1)
Battles: American Civil War
Awards: Medal of Honor
Relations: {{{relations}}}
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

William Ahern was a sailor in the United States Navy who was awarded the Medal of Honor for valor during an engineering crisis that threatened his ship.


Ahern was born in Ireland in 1861 and entered the Navy in New York. On July 1, 1897 he was serving aboard the USS Puritan as a watertender when the crown sheets on one of her boilers collapsed. Ahern entered the fire room with his face and arms wrapped in wet cloths, crawling over the other boilers to close a valve disconnecting the boiler from the remaining boilers, preventing further damage.

Medal of Honor citation[]

Rank and organization: Watertender, U.S. Navy. Born: 1861, Ireland. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 482, November 1, 1897.


On board the U.S.S. Puritan at the time of the collapse of one of the crown sheets of boiler E of that vessel, 1 July 1897. Wrapped in wet cloths to protect his face and arms, Ahern entered the fireroom, crawled over the tops of the boilers and closed the auxiliary stop valve, disconnecting boiler E and removing the danger of disabling the other boilers.

William O'Hearn[]

In newspaper reports his name is given as "William O'Hearn": Chicago Tribune 3 June 1898; Oakland Tribune 20 May 1898; New York Times 6 February 1898;[1]


PD-icon This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Army Center of Military History document "Medal of Honor Recipients Interim 1871-1898".