Jesse M. Roper, born on 29 October 1851 at Glasgow, Missouri, was appointed midshipman in June 1868 and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1872.

Commissioned lieutenant commander in 1899, he assumed command of Petrel shortly thereafter. On 31 March 1901, while Petrel was moored at Cavite, Philippine Islands, fire broke out in the sail room, adjacent to the magazines. Lieutenant Commander Roper went down into the burning area twice. Overcome by smoke on his last descent—to rescue a trapped seaman—Lieutenant Commander Roper suffocated before help could reach him.

Source: Naval History & Heritage Command including Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.