Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton has announced his decision to assign names to 13 new Navy ships; four guided missile destroyers (DDG), an amphibious transport dock (LPD), a patrol coastal (PC) ship, and seven large, medium speed, roll-on/roll-off (T-AKR) ships. The names are:
McCampbell (DDG 85) honors Navy Capt. David McCampbell, (1910-1996), the Navy's top ace with 34 confirmed aerial victories and recipient of the Medal of Honor while serving as commander, Air Group 15, USS Essex (CV 9) during the Battle of the Philippine Sea (June 19, 1944) and the Battle of Leyte Gulf (October 24, 1944). During the first encounter, McCampbell's force "virtually annihilated" an attacking force of 80 Japanese carrier-based aircraft, of which he personally shot down seven. In the Battle of Leyte Gulf, he daringly attacked a formation of at least 60 Japanese land-based aircraft. McCampbell shot down at least nine of their number, forcing the remainder to abandon the attack. In addition to the Medal of Honor, McCampbell received the Navy Cross, Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross. No previous ship has been named McCampbell.
Mason (DDG 87) honors two previous ships of that name. The first Mason (DD-191) (1920-1941) was named for John Young Mason, born April 18, 1799, in Greene County, Va. Both a political leader and diplomat, he was secretary of the Navy for Presidents John Tyler, 1844 to 1845, and James K. Polk, 1846 to 1849. As minister to France, he joined James Buchanan and Pierre Soul`e, ministers to Great Britain and Spain respectively, on Oct. 18, 1854, in issuing the famous Ostend Manifesto. This manifest justified seizing Cuba if Spain would not sell the colony to the United States. Mason died in Paris, France, Oct. 3, 1859. The second Mason (DE 529) (1944-1945) was named for Ensign Newton Henry Mason, born Dec. 24, 1918 in New York City. He enlisted as a seaman in the Naval Reserve, Nov. 7, 1940 and on Feb. 10, 1941 was appointed an aviation cadet. Assigned to Fighting Squadron 3, he died following aerial combat against Japanese forces during the Battle of the Coral Sea, May 8 and 9, 1942. Mason was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his skill and courage in battle.
Shoup (DDG 86) honors Marine Gen. David M. Shoup, (1904-1983), 22nd Commandant of the Marine Corps and Medal of Honor recipient for his actions during the initial landings on Betio, Tarawa Atoll, Nov. 20 to 22, 1943. While in command of the Second Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, he carried out his leadership duties and exposed himself to withering enemy fire despite "suffering a serious, painful leg wound which had become infected..." No previous Navy ship has been named Shoup.
Preble (DDG 88) honors Commodore Edward Preble, born Aug. 15, 1761 at Falmouth, Eastern Massachusetts, now Portland, Maine. In 1779, he was appointed to the Massachusetts State Marine, becoming an officer in the 26-gun ship Protector. Becoming a British prisoner when the ship was captured in 1781, he was held for a time on the prison ship New Jersey. Upon his release, Preble served on Winthrop and led a boarding party to capture a British brig at Castine and worked it out to sea despite heavy shore fire. Fifteen years of merchant service followed his Revolutionary War service and in April 1798 he was appointed 1st Lt. in the U.S. Navy. Commanding the 3rd Squadron in 1803, with Constitution as his flagship, he sailed for the Barbary Coast where he promoted a treaty with Morocco and established a blockade off Tripoli. Relieved in September 1804, Preble returned to the United States in February 1805 and became engaged in shipbuilding activities at Portland, Maine. Five previous ships have borne the name Preble.
New Orleans (LPD 18) honors the largest city of Louisiana. New Orleans was the site of a key naval action in the Civil War, in which Adm. David Farragut opened the southern Mississippi to Union forces. Three previous ships have borne the name New Orleans.
Tornado (PC 14) is a patrol coastal ship. Ships of this class are named after weather phenomena. Tornado is named for the phenomena of violently powerful whirlwinds. The Civil War-era monitor Winnebago was briefly renamed Tornado in 1869.
Mendonca (T-AKR 303) honors Army Sgt. Leroy A. Mendonca, (1932-1951), awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for defending against a night assault by a numerically superior hostile force near Chich-on, Korea, July 4, 1951. When his platoon was outflanked and subsequently ordered to withdraw, Mendonca voluntarily remained in an exposed position to cover the movement. Although under heavy fire, he held the on-rushing enemy at bay with rifle and grenades until his ammunition was exhausted. He fought on, using his rifle butt and bayonet, until he fell mortally wounded. It is estimated that Mendonca accounted for 37 enemy casualties and enabled the platoon to assume a defensive position from which they repelled the enemy attack and maintained possession of a vital hilltop. No previous ship has been named Mendonca.
Pililaau (T-AKR 304) honors Army Pfc. Herbert K. Pililaau, (1928-1951), awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for the valiant defense of his position near Pia-ri, Korea, Sept. 17, 1951. While defending a key piece of terrain on "Heartbreak Ridge," his company repulsed enemy assaults until the unit was ordered to withdraw due to a shortage of ammunition. Voluntarily remaining behind to cover the withdrawal, Pililaau fired his remaining automatic weapons ammunition and grenades into the assailants, then fought hand-to-hand with trench knife and bare fists until he was mortally wounded. When the position was subsequently recaptured, 40 enemy dead were found nearby. No previous ship has been named Pililaau.
Brittin (T-AKR 305) honors Army Sgt. 1st Class Nelson V. Brittin, (1920-1951), awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for leading his squad in an attack on a hill near Yonggong-ni, Korea, March 7, 1951. Wounded by a grenade during his squad's advance through murderous fire, Brittin refused medical attention and hurled grenades into enemy positions. When his weapon jammed, he leapt into a foxhole where he killed the occupants with rifle butts and bayonet. He continued to clear foxholes and single-handedly eliminated a machine-gun nest. When a camouflaged machine gun opened fire upon his squad, Brittin charged the position before he was killed by a burst of machine gun fire. He accounted for 20 enemy casualties and silenced four automatic weapons before he was killed. No previous ship has been named Brittin.
Red Cloud (T-AKR 313) honors Army Cpl. Mitchell Red Cloud, (1924-1950), awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for actions during the defense of a ridge in front of his company command post in Korea, Nov. 5, 1950. As the first to detect the approach of enemy forces, Red Cloud gave the alarm and initiated devastating automatic rifle fire as the enemy charged from the brush-covered area less than a hundred feet away. This fire allowed his company to organize a defense. He maintained his position despite being severely wounded. He wrapped his arm around a tree to allow him to continue firing upon the enemy until mortally wounded. His heroic actions prevented his company from being overrun. One previous ship (YT 268) (1943-1986) was named Red Cloud in honor of an American Indian chief (1822-1909).
Watkins (T-AKR 315) honors Army Master Sgt. Travis E. Watkins, (1920-1950), awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his gallant leadership when an overwhelming enemy force broke through and isolated 30 men from his unit in Korea from Aug. 31 to Sept. 3, 1950. After taking command of the surrounded position, Watkins moved from foxhole to foxhole shouting instructions and encouragement to his men. When the need for ammunition became acute, he shot two enemy soldiers 50 yards outside the perimeter and was wounded while recovering their weapons. He then killed three other soldiers who were firing at him and returned with the weapons of all five enemy soldiers. When enemy soldiers gained a position from which they hurled grenades into the perimeter, Watkins rose from his foxhole to engage them, and despite being immediately hit by a burst of machine gun fire, he continued to fire, killing the assailants. Paralyzed from the waist down, he refused food to save it for his fellow soldiers. When the situation became hopeless, he ordered his men to leave him and escape to friendly lines. His small force killed nearly 500 of the enemy before abandoning their position. No previous ship has been named Watkins.
Charlton (T-AKR 314) honors Army Sgt. Cornelius H. Charlton, (1929-1952), awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for bravery during an attack on a heavily defended position in Korea, June 2, 1951. When his platoon leader was wounded, Charlton assumed command and rallied the men for an assault against enemy positions on a commanding hill. He personally eliminated two hostile positions, killing six of the enemy with rifle and grenades. When the unit became pinned down, he led his men forward before he suffered a severe chest wound from an enemy grenade. Charlton refused medical attention and led another daring charge despite being mortally wounded. No previous ship has been named Charlton.
Pomeroy (T-AKR 316) honors Army Pfc. Ralph E. Pomeroy, (1930-1952), awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions while manning a machine-gun in Korea on Oct. 15, 1952. Protecting his platoon's flank, Pomeroy opened fire on enemy soldiers as they advanced toward his firing position, causing severe casualties and halting the attack. He maintained heavy fire despite increasingly intense artillery and mortar fire. After a mortar burst wounded him and destroyed his gun mount, Pomeroy cradled the machine gun in his arms and raked the attacking forces with fire. When he expended his ammunition, he used the machine gun as a club in hand-to-hand combat until mortally wounded. No previous ship has been named Pomeroy.