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George W. Cutter was a United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...
sailor and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress, upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her...
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...
, in 1849, Cutter joined the Navy from that state. By May 27, 1872, he was serving as a landsman
Landman was a military rank given to naval recruits.-United Kingdom:In the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom in the middle of the 18th century , the term Landman referred to a seaman with less than a year's experience at sea...
on the . On that day, while the ship was at Norfolk, Virginia
Norfolk is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. With a population of 242,803 as of the 2010 Census, it is Virginia's second-largest city behind neighboring Virginia Beach....
, Seaman James Mitchell fell from Powhatans rigging
Rigging is the apparatus through which the force of the wind is used to propel sailboats and sailing ships forward. This includes masts, yards, sails, and cordage.-Terms and classifications:...
and landed in the water; he was rendered helpless in the fall. Cutter and two others, Second Assistant Engineer George Cowie and Ordinary Seaman Henry Couch, jumped overboard and saved Mitchell from drowning. For this action, Cutter was awarded the Medal of Honor a month and a half later, on July 9.
Cutter's official Medal of Honor citation reads:
On board the U.S.S. Powhatan, Norfolk, Va., 27 May 1872. Jumping overboard on this date, Cutter aided in saving one of the crew of that vessel from drowning.
- List of Medal of Honor recipients during peacetime