SAN DIEGO -- Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is scheduled to announce Tuesday morning at Camp Pendleton that a future warship will be named after John Basilone, a Marine Corps World War II hero.
Basilone, a gunnery sergeant, already has a roadway named after him at the sprawling base in northern San Diego County. The Buffalo native earned the Medal of Honor for valor during fighting on the island of Guadalcanal, a battle that helped turn the tide of the war in the Pacific.
In October 1942, he and fellow Marines staved off numerous charges by Japanese troops aiming for Henderson Field, the primary objective of the two sides. By keeping control of the airfield, U.S. Marine and Navy airmen were able to choke off the flow of supplies to Japanese forces, who abandoned the island in early 1943.
Following a stateside tour to promote the sale of war bonds, Basilone returned to action in the Pacific and was killed in February 1945 on the island of Iwo Jima. He was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously, becoming the only enlisted Marine to win the two medals in World War II.
DDG 122, expected to enter service in six years, will be the second destroyer named for Basilone. The first was decommissioned almost 40 years ago, according to the Navy.
Following the Camp Pendleton event, Mabus is scheduled to travel to San Francisco, where he will officially announce the naming of a Military Sealift Command oiler after gay rights activist Harvey Milk.
Milk, a Navy diving instructor in San Diego, went on to become the first openly gay public official in California in 1977 when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Milk and then-San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were murdered by a fellow city official the following year.