Navy officer Edouard Izac’s remarkable odyssey began on May 31, 1918, when a German submarine torpedoed his ship, the USS President Lincoln, as it sailed near the coast of France. Most of the crew managed to escape, but Izac was captured and taken aboard the U-boat for the journey back to Germany. Unbeknownst to his captors, Izac was the son of German-speaking immigrants, and he used his knowledge of the language to collect vital information on German submarine operations.
Determined to get this intelligence to the Allies, Izac later made several failed escape attempts, including once diving out the window of a moving train. He finally pulled off a successful jailbreak in October 1918, when he scaled the barbed wire fence of his prison camp, stopping along the way to draw fire from the guards to allow other prisoners to flee. Izac spent the next several days sneaking through hostile territory and living off the land before swimming the Rhine River into the safety of neutral Switzerland. Though his information ultimately proved of little use so late in the war, he was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1920, and went on to serve several years in Congress. At the time of his death in 1990, he was the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World War I.
We honor you, Edouard Izac.