During times of war, submarines were often used in combat due to their ability to sneak up on targets unnoticed. However, they were also some of the most dangerous marine crafts to do battle in due to the risk of sinking. Many sailors drowned during the war when they were unable to escape from the bowels of their ships.
For one sailor, Henry Breault, he risked everything to save a friend, despite the risk. His story is one of bravery and true heroism.
A Split Second Decision
Early in the morning on Sunday, October 23, 1923, the U.S. Submarine O-5 was leading a routine patrol in the bay off the northern tip of the Panama Canal. It was a typical morning for the crew when out of nowhere the sub was struck by a steamship. With the crew panicking, sailor Henry Breault made his way to the deck when he suddenly remembered his good friend was down below.
Realizing time was of the essence, he made a decision that would alter the course of his life forever.
Joining the Royal Navy
Henry Breault was born on October 4, 1900, in Putnam, CT. At just the age of sixteen, he decided to join the Royal Navy, jumping into the fight against the Germans in 1916, a full year before the United States even entered World War I.
After serving in the Royal Navy for four years, Breault decided to switch sides and join the U.S. Navy. With World War I ending, Breault hoped to continue his naval career, and he certainly did all he could to excel.
Thriving in the Navy
Breault moved up in the ranks of the U.S. Navy and held the rank of Torpedoman’s Mate Second Class. His assignment was on the U.S. Submarine O-5, one of sixteen O-class subs built just in time to join the first World War in 1918.