National Guard Bureau
WASHINGTON, May 29, 1997
Navy Honors Army Hero
The Navy named its newest roll-on/roll- off cargo ship in honor of an Army Medal of Honor recipient May 24, at Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Va., DoD officials said.
The USNS Gilliland was named in honor of Army Cpl. Charles L. Gilliland,(1933-1951), a native of Mountain Home, Ark. Dale G. Shelton, sister of the ship's namesake, is the ship's sponsor.
Gilliland was assigned to Company I, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, near near Tongmang-ni, Korea, in 1951 when a hostile force attacked Gilliland's company perimeter, killing his comrade. Alone, Gilliland faced the full force of the assault. 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 but refused medical attention and volunteered to remain at his post. He held the enemy at bay when his unit was ordered back to new defensive positions. Fatally wounded while covering this withdrawal, Gilliland's heroic actions prevented the enemy from completely overrunning his company positions.
The USNS Gilliland is the fourth ship to undergo conversion from a commercial container vessel to a large medium speed roll-on/roll-off sealift ship, officials said. Once converted, the ship will be able to transport helicopters, tanks and other wheeled and tracked military vehicles.
The ship is 956 feet in length, has a beam of 106 feet, displaces about 55,000 tons when fully loaded and has about 300,000 square feet of cargo space. The Military Sealift Command will operate the ship. (DoD Public Affairs)