The American Legion awarded the Distinguished Service Medal to U.S. Navy Adm. Robert Coontz and and visiting Polish Gen. Josef Haller in 1923.

After growing up in Hannibal, Mo., where Mark Twain was a family friend, Coontz attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, followed by duty on numerous ships.

Coontz served as governor of Guam from 1912 to 1914, then returned to the Navy as commanding officer of the battleship Georgia and commandant of the Navy Yard Puget Sound until the end of World War I. He was assigned to the Pacific Fleet in late 1919 when he became chief of naval operations, serving until 1923. Later, Coontz was commandant of the Fifth Naval District.

The celebrated naval commander had two ships named in his honor. He also was an author. His autobiography, "From the Mississippi to the Sea," covers his boyhood through the end of his career. He suffered a heart attack in 1934 and died a year later, at 70.

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