Several things:

  • Seaman (all right, actually a boatswain) in the navy during the Tripolitan wars. Famous for his role as part of a boarding party to recapture or sink the U.S.S. Philidelphia, which had been taken by pirates, during which he took a cutlass to the head which was aimed at his captain, and surviving
  • A destroyer in the Atlantic fleet, the U.S.S. Reuben James, named for the aforementioned boatswain, was commissioned in 1919, and was among the first ships put on convoy duty during World War 2. While escorting an ammunition ship in late 1941, she was torpedoed by a German u-boat; the ship's magazine was hit and exploded. Only 44 of the 144-man crew survived. She was the first American ship sunk by hostile action during that war.
  • All right; I'll cheat. There were two more ships by that name. The second was commissioned in 1942, also on escort and convoy duty in the Atlantic. After sinking a whole bunch of shit, she was decommissioned in 1947. The third is a guided-missile frigate, launched in 1985 and still in service. I believe her current home port is in Hawaii.
  • A song by the Kingston Trio about the first U.S.S. Reuben James, which has the chorus:
    Have you heard of the ship called the good Reuben James? Run by hard fighting men both of honor and of fame.
    She flew the stars and stripes of the land of the free, but tonight she's in her grave at the bottom of the sea.
    Oh tell me, what were their names? Tell me, what were their names?
    Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James?

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