Donald Kirby Ross was born in Beverly, Kansas, on December 8, 1910. He enlisted in the Navy in Denver, Colorado, on June 3, 1929, graduated company honor man from basic training, San Diego, completed Machinist Mate School, Norfolk, VA first in his class and was assigned to USS Henderson on a China service run.
While serving in hospital ship Relief, Ross saw his first action (with the Marines) in Nicaragua in 1931. Advancing through the rates on the minesweeper USS Brant, destroyer USS Simpson and cruiser USS Minneapolis, he attained the rank of Warrant Officer and was assigned to USS Nevada.
It was on USS Nevada that Ross distinguished himself on December 7, 1941 by assuming responsibility to furnish power under untenable conditions, to get the ship underway- the only battleship to do so during the Japanese attack.
"When his station in the forward dynamo room became almost untenable due to smoke, steam and heat," reads Ross' citation, "he forced his men to leave that station and performed all the duties himself until blinded and unconscious. Upon being rescued and resuscitated, he returned and secured the forward dynamo room and proceeded to the after dynamo room, where he was later again rendered unconscious by exhaustion. Upon recovering consciousness, he returned to his station, where he remained until directed to abandon it."
Ross was presented the Medal of Honor by Admiral Chester Nimitz on April 18, 1942, and was commissioned an Ensign in June 1942. Later in the war, he also participated in the landings at Normandy and Southern France.
Ross retired in July 1956 as a Captain, after 27 years of consecutive active duty aboard every type of surface ship then afloat.