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Release No: 262-97
May 23, 1997


The U.S. Navy will officially name its newest roll-on/roll- off cargo ship in honor of a U.S. Army Medal of Honor winner during a 10 a.m.(EDT) ceremony, Saturday, May 24, 1997, at Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Va.

The ship will be named USNS Gilliland (T-AKR 298) in honor of Cpl. Charles L. Gilliland, USA (1933-1951), a native of Mountain Home, Ark. Gilliland was assigned to Company I, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. Near Tongmang-ni, Korea, a numerically superior hostile force launched an assault against his company perimeter, killing his comrade and leaving Gilliland to face the full force of the assault alone.

When two enemy soldiers escaped his fire and infiltrated the sector, he leaped from his foxhole, overtook and killed them. Gilliland sustained a serious head wound in this daring exploit. He refused medical attention and volunteered to remain at his post, holding the enemy at bay when his unit was ordered back to new defensive positions. He suffered fatal wounds while covering this withdrawal, and his heroic actions and indomitable devotion to duty prevented the enemy from completely overrunning his company positions.

Gilliland's incredible valor and supreme sacrifice reflect lasting glory upon himself and are in keeping with the honored traditions of the military service. For his conspicuous gallantry and outstanding courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Rep. Owen B. Pickett of Va. will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Serving as ship's sponsor is Mrs. Dale G. Shelton, sister of the ship's namesake.

Gilliland is the fourth ship to undergo conversion from a commercial container vessel to a Large Medium Speed Roll On/Roll Off (LMSR) sealift ship. It will be operated by the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command, Washington, D.C. Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton views this program as vital to improving America's strategic sealift capability.

After undergoing conversion to meet Army and Navy requirements, Gilliland's roll on/roll off design will make it ideal for transporting helicopters, tanks and other wheeled and tracked military vehicles. Gilliland is 956 feet in length, has a beam of 106 feet, displaces approximately 55,000 tons when fully loaded and has approximately 300,000 square feet of cargo carrying space. Three low speed diesels, totaling 65,000 shaft horse power, enable the ship to sustain speeds up to 24 knots.

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