Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton announced his decision to name three new Arleigh Burke Class Guided Missile Destroyers (DDG) to honor Navy and Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipients. The ships are:
Lassen (DDG 82) honors Cmdr. Clyde Everett Lassen, USN, (1942-1994), a Medal of Honor recipient for his courageous rescue of two downed aviators while commander of a search and rescue helicopter in Vietnam. Then-Lt. Lassen made several attempts to recover the pilots, but dense tree cover, enemy weapons fire, and intermittent illumination frustrated his efforts. Determined to complete his mission, Lt. Lassen turned on the landing lights of his helicopter, despite the danger of revealing his position to the enemy. After the pilots made their way to the helicopter and with his bullet-riddled helicopter dangerously low on fuel, Lt. Lassen evaded further anti-aircraft fire before landing safely at sea onboard a guided missile destroyer. There is one former ship USS Lassen (AE 3) (1941-1947), an ammunition ship named for the volcanic peak of that name in Calif.
- Howard (DDG 83) honors Gunnery Sgt. Jimmie E. Howard, USMC, (1929-1993), recipient of the Medal of Honor for his leadership of a platoon against repeated attacks by a battalion-size Viet Cong force. After receiving severe wounds from an enemy grenade, he distributed ammunition to his men and directed air strikes on the enemy. By dawn, his
- beleaguered platoon still held their position. Gunnery Sgt. Howard also received the Silver Star Medal for service in Korea. A previous Howard (DD 179) (1920-1945), named for Charles W. Howard, a U.S. Navy hero from the Civil War, earned six battle stars in World War II.
Bulkeley (DDG 84) honors Admiral John Duncan Bulkeley, USN, (1911-1996), recipient of the Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, and numerous other decorations for heroic actions during World War II. In command of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three and Seven during the defense of the Philippines, he evacuated Gen. MacArthur and President Quezon of the Philippines, and destroyed several Japanese planes, surface combatants, and merchant ships despite unfavorable odds. As Commander, MTB Squadron 102, he supported the Normandy and Southern France invasions. After the war, he eventually became President, Board of Inspection and Survey, where he continued to serve after being transferred to the retired list on Jan. 1, 1974.
The Arleigh Burke Class DDGs are multi-mission ships equipped with the Navy's AEGIS combat weapons system, which combines space-age communication, radar and weapons technologies in a single platform for unlimited flexibility while operating "ForwardFrom the Sea." They are extremely versatile and designed to operate independently as a multi-threat offensive platform or in support of aircraft carrier and amphibious operations. These ships are 505 feet in length, with a beam of 66 feet, and displace 8,580 tons when fully loaded. Four gas turbine engines power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.