One of the things that has irked me with Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, has been the way he’s named ships, lately. Frankly, they have been more political than about honoring naval tradition. The latest ship, USS Gabrielle Giffords, named last week is an outrageous example.
But today Mabus corrected his course and announced the next ships to be commissioned will be named after heroes and mid-sized cities.
The next three Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyers, USS John Finn, USS Ralph Johnson, and USS Rafael Peralta, and two littoral combat ships (LCS), USS Sioux City and USS Omaha will finally carries names familiar to many within the services — a tradition that has marked the Navy for generations.
Two of these names touch me personally. I met Medal of Honor recipient John Finn in the 1990s while covering him when he spoke about Pearl Harbor to Helix High School students in La Mesa, Calif. A remarkable man who was revered by many sailors who met him.
The other person is Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta. Though I didn’t meet him, his courage is a standard other Marines hold high. He too was from my home county. Peralta was born in Mexico City, but lived in Chula Vista, Calif. He graduated from Morse High School (San Diego), and joined the Marines shortly after getting his green card. He was not an American citizen.
For his actions in the Second Battle of Fallujah, Iraq he received posthumously the Navy Cross. Many, including a congressman, believe he should have received the Medal of Honor.
These two ships will honor exceptional servicemen that will be an inspiration to all those who will serve on them.
The Finn (DDG 113) is now under contract with Ingalls Shipbuilding, and the Peralto (DDG 115) is under contract with the General Dynamics Bath Ironworks.
I will look forward to being at the Finn’s commissioning ceremony.