Navy To Name Ships After Servicemen With Local Ties

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus Says Ships Will Be USS John Finn, USS Ralph Johnson, USS Rafael Peralta

The next three Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyers will be named after military heroes with ties to San Diego County, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced Wednesday.

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The ships will be the USS John Finn, the USS Ralph Johnson and the USS Rafael Peralta, Mabus said.

Finn and Johnson are Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. Peralta was awarded the Navy Cross, but there is a campaign under way to get President Barack Obama to upgrade Peralta's award to the Medal of Honor.

"Finn, Johnson and Peralta have all been recognized with some of our nation's highest awards," Mabus said. "I want to ensure their service and sacrifice will be known by today's sailors and Marines and honored for several decades to come by a new generation of Americans and people from around the world who will come in contact with these ships."

Finn, a longtime East County resident, manned a machine gun at Kaneohe Naval Air Station during the attack on Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941. He fired at Japanese aircraft for more than two hours despite being shot in the arm and foot, and receiving numerous shrapnel wounds.

He served 15 years in the Navy and died in 2010 at the age of 100.

"This is truly a great honor for John," said Joe Brunner, the chairman of the annual Veteran's Day Parade in San Diego. "I just wish he had lived to see it."

Johnson, a Camp Pendleton-based Marine, saved two fellow servicemen when he fell on a grenade that landed in his foxhole during a firefight in Vietnam on March 5, 1968.

The Veterans Administration medical center in Johnson's hometown of Charleston, S.C., was named after him in 1991.

Peralta, who grew up in San Diego, also died when he covered up a grenade that exploded on Nov. 15, 2004, in Fallujah, Iraq.

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