Ensign John H. Wesson’s family hookup
This immaculate Smith & Wesson Corp. Model 1917 Revolver was once used to shoot flying fish off the fantail of a destroyer during WWII by its owner, then LCDR Joseph Hawes Wesson II (NSN: 0-74971), grandson of S&W founder, Daniel B. Wesson.
The wheelgun was presented to Wesson on his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1935, where he served on the Annapolis lacrosse team.
With this revolver at his side, he picked up the Silver Star in the Pacific.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. HICKOX (DD-673), in action against enemy Japanese forces during the capture and occupation of Saipan, the First Battle of the Philippine Sea, the capture and occupation of Guam, raids on Palau-Yap-Ulithi, Mindanao, Visayas, Luzon, Nansei Shoto and Formosa, and support raids against enemy installations in the Philippine Islands, from 9 June to 27 November 1944. Fighting his ship with skill and determined aggressiveness, Commander Wesson rendered valiant service during a protracted period of intensive warfare, maintaining his command in superb combat readiness and hurling her full strength against frequent hostile air attacks and enemy installations. Under his courageous direction, the HICKOX achieved an outstanding record for providing gunfire protection for our heavy units against enemy air attacks and succeeded in destroying one enemy aircraft and in rescuing the crews of eighteen planes downed in hostile waters. His inspiring leadership and zealous devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Wesson continued his career through WWII and into the Cold War, attending the 1952 Strategy and Tactics class at the Naval War College as a full Commander. He retired as a Captain and died June 11, 2001.
He is buried in the Wesson family plot in Massachusetts and donated his M1917 to the National Firearms Museum.
One side of this revolver’s frame bears the seal of the Naval Academy.