Robert Augustus Sweeney (February 20, 1853 – December 19, 1890) was a sailor in the United States Navy and is one of only nineteen servicemen, and the only African American, to receive the Medal of Honor twice, both for peace-time actions.
Born on February 20, 1853, in Montreal, Canada, Sweeney immigrated to the United States and joined the Navy from New Jersey. By October 26, 1881, he was serving as an ordinary seaman on the USS Kearsarge. While Kearsarge was anchored in Hampton Roads on that day, Seaman E.M. Christoverson fell from a Jacob's ladder attached to the ship's lower boom and landed in the water. Christoverson's inability to swim, combined with a strong tidal current and rough seas, led to him quickly beginning to sink. Seeing this, Sweeney jumped overboard without hesitation and went to his aid. In his panic, Christoverson latched onto Sweeney and dragged him under the water. Sweeney was able to break free, but was grabbed and dragged under a second time. One of Kearsarge's officers, Cadet Midshipman John B. Bernadon, then dove into the water and swam to help the men.