Borum was appointed a Lieutenant (junior grade) in the United States Naval Reserve in 1942. Lieutenant(jg) Borum was killed in the wreck of a merchantman 20 July 1943 on which he was the armed guard officer On 14 August 1943, the destroyer escort United States Ship Borum (Delaware-790) was named in his honor.
The following account is published in The History of the Armed Guard Afloat: World World War II - OP 414:
The Brilliant was bound for Belfast and was in convoy when she was torpedoed on the morning of November 18, 1942.
Her case looked hopeless, for she was a tanker and she was on fire. James C. Cameron, the junior third officer or fourth officer was preparing to abandon the ship when the calm remark of Lieutenant
(jg) John R. Borum that somebody ought to turn off the general alarm and that they might try exhausting the fire caused him to stop. Then unfolded one of the sagas of World World War World War II The fire was extinguished.
The courage and calm of Lieutenant
(jg) Borum was contagious. The radio operator rigged up an emergency radio. A junior officer and an Armed Guard neither of whom could navigate finally brought the ship safely into Saint Johns.
After emergency repairs she proceeded to New York under tow, but broke up on January 20, 1943.
The junior third officer who had stood 29 straight watches, the Armed Guard officer who had been cool when others were filled with panic, and the radio operator all went down with the ship. Such heroes deserve to live.
The United States Ship Borum was named for this Armed Guard officer Source:
The following Account is provided in The Free Library article: Number Surrender As Long As The Guns Can Be Fought::
A similar event occurred with the 9000-ton Socony motorship Brilliant torpedoed in November 1942, en route from New York to Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Hit just aft of the bridge, an intense fire broke out and the ship"s master, first, second and third mates, plus most of the crew including the cook and steward took to the lifeboats.
The crew exited with such haste that the Armed Guard bluejackets broke out in laughter prompting the fourth officer, Mr. East.G. Cameron to stay aboard. With searing flames spreading across the decks the Armed Guard officer, Lieutenant
(jg) J.R. Borum, asked ship"s officer Cameron why he didn"t try and put out the fire.
Cameron knew the Lux firefighting system and went below to get the remaining crew to charge the firemains and start the steamsmothering system. Within an hour, the fire was extinguished and Cameron and Borum - neither with any navigating experience between them - managed to get the ship headed for the Newfoundland coast.
Making only 3knots-they happily reached Bonavista Harbor, where they anchored. Sadly, their exploit in saving the Brilliant was not to have a storybook ending for, two months later, both were to perish aboard her when she broke up and sank while under tow from Saint Johns to Halifax for repairs.
The nine crew members who abandoned ship eventually landed safely on the rocky shores of Newfoundland.