Loveman Noa Was Maritime Hero

Wednesday, February 14, 2007 - by John Shearer

Several Chattanoogans have recently uncovered some information about the military heroics more than a century ago of a Chattanoogan named Loveman Noa.

Longtime Chattanooga accountant Mel Young recently came across Naval Cadet Noa and his connection to Chattanooga while writing some military-related history books. He shared Cadet Noa’s story with others, and several in turn provided him with additional information.

“It was surprising the number of persons who found the story interesting and historically significant to Chattanooga,” Mr. Young said.

In fact, he and some other retired Naval officers became so fascinated that they have discussed the possibility of trying to get the local Navy/Marine Reserve Center off Amnicola Highway named in his memory.

It would certainly not be the first time he was memorialized. After Mr. Young included a chapter on him in his third book, Bitter Tears I Shed for Thee, he learned that two U.S. Navy ships had been named for him.

According to some information provided by Mr. Young, Cadet Noa was a member of the Hungarian Jewish Loveman family, who had emigrated to North Georgia. In the 1870s, Cadet Noa’s uncle, David Barnard Loveman, moved to Chattanooga and eventually started the Lovemans department store.

Although later headed by the Richard Moore family, the store was a Chattanooga fixture for years until merging with Proffitt’s. The old Lovemans building downtown has recently been converted into upscale condominiums.

About the time D.B. Loveman began his mercantile and clothing business in Chattanooga, his sister, Rose, married a former German military officer from the Polish town of Breslau (Wroclaw) named Ismar Noa. A son, David Bernard Loveman Noa, was born in 1878.

The latter would find his niche in the maritime, not mercantile, world.

Although the family lived elsewhere for a period, Cadet Noa went through the Chattanooga public school system, graduating from Chattanooga High School. He then attended Baylor School during the 1895-96 school year, when it was located off McCallie Avenue.

The Noa and Loveman families were also members of Mizpah congregation, according to Mr. Young.

Cadet Noa then attended the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis beginning in 1896. In what has not happened to recent generations, he ended up seeing some military action while at the academy.

In 1898, he volunteered for active sea duty aboard the USS Harvard in Cuban waters during the early hostilities of the Spanish-American War. He returned to Annapolis unscathed and graduated with the Class of 1900.

Holding the rank of Naval cadet, he was sent to the Philippines as the Spanish-American War was winding down and the Philippines had been given to the United States by Spain. However, an insurrection that had begun by those Filipinos wanting total independence continued.

In late October 1901, Cadet Noa, while commanding the gunboat, Mariveles, went ashore at Nipa Nipa on the island of Samar, in the Philippines with about a half dozen men. They were looking for insurgents smuggling contraband from the adjoining island of Leyte.

Two of his men had stayed behind in the boat 200 yards off shore, while the others went into town. Cadet Noa, meanwhile, stood guard on the beach.

His white uniform evidently made him stand out as an American military person, because a dozen local residents suddenly attacked him with machete-like bolos and caused several wounds. The two in the boat then tried to come to his rescue. They reached him while he was still conscious, but he died a short time later.

The next day, his body was interred at the small U.S. national cemetery at Catbalogan, Samar, with full military honors. A Gen. Smith and Adm. Rogers were in attendance during a rainstorm. The service was conducted by Chaplain Chadwick of New York, who had been the chaplain of the Maine at the time it was blown up and sunk in 1898.

The Maine explosion in Havana harbor had greatly influenced the United States’ decision to enter the war, although some today wonder if the accident was caused by a simple boiler explosion instead of a Spanish-placed mine.

A salute of three volley shots by a Naval firing squad and the playing of Taps concluded the service for Cadet Noa.

At the family’s request, his body was later taken by boat to San Francisco and then by train to Chattanooga in late February 1902 for burial here. After a private service at the family home on East Fourth Street, a procession was made to the Chattanooga National Cemetery, where 1,000 people had gathered.

Leading the service was Dr. Jonathan W. Bachman, city chaplain and First Presbyterian Church minister.

Dr. Bachman, who had been a Confederate Army officer and former prisoner of war in the Civil War, read the 90th Psalm, which is a prayer of Moses.

Cadet Noa was then laid to rest again amid the sounds of more volleys and Taps.

His grave is near the flagpole and is marked with a stone tombstone much larger than the standard ones of most buried in the cemetery.

His inscription reads, “Loveman Noa, Cadet United States Navy, 1878-1901.”

It tells nothing of his heroics and tragic death more than a century ago.

But due to the efforts of Mr. Young and some of the others, more is known about him.

Mr. Young said two Naval ships have actually been named for him. On June 20, 1919, the first, the U.S.S. Noa destoyer (DD-343), was launched in his honor.

Like its namesake, the ship met an unfortunate end in the Pacific. It had a collision with another American ship off the coast of the Solomon Islands in 1944 during World War II and sunk.

Fortunately, no lives were lost. The ship had received the Yangtze Service Medal for China service in 1927 and five battle stars during World War II.

A second USS Noa (DD-841) was launched in 1945. It was the ship that rescued astronaut and future U.S. Sen. John Glenn off the coast of Puerto Rico after his famous space flight in 1962.

Baylor School alumni affairs director Rob Robinson, who graduated from Baylor in 1968 and helped Mr. Young gather some information on Cadet Noa, was on a ship that was often docked next to the second USS Noa in 1971 and 1972 prior to a tour of Southeast Asia.

“Many times we would be moored right next to each other,” Mr. Robinson recalled. “I’m quite familiar with that ship.”

Chattanooga Gene Hunt, who has long been involved in local Republican politics, also told Mr. Young that he served on the USS Noa.

That ship was later transferred to Spain and scrapped in 1991.

The first memorial recognition of Cadet Noa occurred about 1910, when a plaque in his memory was placed at the Naval Academy’s Memorial Hall. Dedicated by his fellow classmates on the occasion of their 10th anniversary, the tablet talks of his ambush and death fighting single handedly. It also has an etching of the scene as he and fellow crewmen were heading to the island before the tragedy.

The plaque, however, says that his birth year was 1876, while his Chattanooga tombstone and everything else Mr. Young has found says 1878.

But what is for sure is that he was quite a hero.

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