Veteran of the Week: Lt. John Tillman Melvin

Published 3:03 pm Wednesday, December 12, 2018

By MELANIE POOLE / Special to the Reporter

The Veteran of the Week is sponsored by the National Veterans Shrine and Register of Honor at the American Village — honoring America’s veterans and telling the stories of their service and sacrifice for the cause of liberty.

“The American Village is pleased to join the Shelby County Reporter in recognizing Lieutenant John Tillman Melvin as Veteran of the Week,” American Village founder and CEO Tom Walker said. “He is representative of the hundreds of thousands of Alabamians who have risked it all for the sake of our country and its freedom. To all veterans we owe a debt we can never fully repay.”

Lt. John Tillman Melvin is being recognized as this week’s Veteran of the Week. (Contributed)

Visit the website,, today and add your loved ones to the Register of Honor. Help us honor, recognize, respect and remember our country’s veterans.

Here are highlights about this week’s Veteran of the Week: John T. Melvin was born in Selma in 1887. The son of Bishop and Mary Martha Melvin, he entered the U.S. Naval Academy on July 6, 1907 and graduated a Commissioned Lieutenant on July 7, 1911. For four years he served aboard the U.S.S. South Carolina before leaving the Navy on 8/20/1915. He rejoined in February 1917 when war was declared by Congress. He was assigned to the U.S.S. Alcedo and did anti-submarine patrol off the coast of France. During his service aboard The Alcedo they twice rescued men from ships sunk by the Germans, first 118 men of The Antilles, and twelve days later 85 men aboard The Finland. Three weeks later The Alcedo was torpedoed and sank killing Lieutenant Melvin and 20 other sailors. He was the first Naval Officer killed in World War I. His classmates at Annapolis erected a bronze tablet in his honor at Memorial Hall at The Academy. The U. S. Navy has twice named destroyers in his honor including the U.S.S. Melvin (DD-680) that served during World War II, receiving 10 battle stars.

In His Own Words: Of the dangerous and courageous rescue work that he did to help save the men of The Antilles and The Finland, Lieutenant Melvin said, “While I am nobody’s hero, I thank God that I am among the first on the scene.”