John Henry Turpin (1876-1962), a sailor in the United States Navy who retired with the rank of Chief Gunner’s Mate in 1925, was one of the survivors of February 1898 explosion of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor, an incident which precipitated the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. Curiously enough, Turpin went on to survive another deadly ship explosion, that of the USS Bennington in San Diego, California seven years later, which killed 66 of the 102 men onboard. During his career in the Navy, Turpin saw action during the Boxer Rebellion in China and worked as a boxing instructor at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He died in Washington state at age 85, after becoming one of the earliest African-American Chief Petty Officers in the United States Navy.

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