Elmer Schumann was born on November 16, 1899, in Underwood, Iowa. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on January 6, 1919, and after completing basic training and Quartermaster training, he was assigned to the fleet tug USS Tadousac (Tug No. 22) at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from June 1919 to February 1920, followed by service aboard the patrol craft USS Eagle 4 (PE-4) from March 1920 to October 1921. His next assignment was aboard the submarine USS O-9 (SS-70) from December 1921 to January 1923. Schumann left active duty on January 10, 1923, but reenlisted on February 23, 1923, serving until his honorable discharge on December 29, 1926. He again reenlisted on January 10, 1927, and served until March 13, 1935, when he joined the Fleet Naval Reserve. CQM Schumann returned to active duty on October 6, 1936, and joined the crew of the submarine USS Grunion (SS-216) at her commissioning in April 1942. He was killed in action during a confrontation with the armed Japanese freighter Kano Maru on July 30, 1942. On August 22, 2007, a search team organized by the three sons of CDR Mannert Abele (the Captain of the Grunion when she was sunk) used a remotely operated vehicle to find a sunken vessel 3,000 feet down in the Bering Sea north of Kiska Island at the tip of the Aleutian Islands. On October 1, 2008, the U.S. Navy announced that the sunken vessel is the World War II submarine USS Grunion (SS-216).
His Navy Commendation Medal Citation reads:
For meritorious conduct as a member of the crew of the U.S.S. GRUNION which destroyed three enemy destroyers while engaged in a war patrol in enemy controlled waters. Despite severe and persistent anti-submarine measures resulting from these three successful attacks, the GRUNION was brought safely through the counter attacks and continued an aggressive war patrol. As a member of the crew of the GRUNION, your performance of duty was an important and material contribution to the prosecution of this war.