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Release No: 131-95
March 15, 1995



Secretary of the Navy John Dalton announced today his decision to name a maritime prepositioning ship in honor of First Lieutenant Harry Linn Martin, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the battle of Iwo Jima on March 16, 1945. Secretary Dalton's announcement was made as part of today's activities on the island of Iwo Jima, commemorating the 50th anniversary of that epic World War II battle.

First Lieutenant Martin was born in Bucyrus, Ohio, on January 4, 1911, and was a graduate of Michigan State University. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps in August of 1943. Lt. Martin was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry at the cost of his life. Just before dawn on the morning of March 16, 1945, the day the Iwo campaign officially closed, the Japanese launched a concentrated attack and penetrated Marine lines in the area where Lt. Martin's platoon was encamped. He immediately organized a firing line among the men in the foxholes closest to his own, and temporarily stopped the headlong rush of the enemy. Several of his men were lying wounded in positions overrun by the enemy and the lieutenant was determined to rescue them. In the action which followed, he was severely wounded twice but continued to resist the enemy until he fell mortally wounded by a grenade. He died ten days later.

Maritime prepositioning ships are operated by the Navy's Military Sealift Command and carry heavy equipment and cargo for the U.S. Marine Corps. In a crisis situation, Marine Corps personnel are flown to a contingency site concurrent with maritime prepositioning force sailings. Once personnel have arrived in the theater of operations, the ships are off-loaded and Marines can move quickly into combat with the necessary equipment and supplies. The 13 ships currently in the maritime prepositioning force are divided into three squadrons which operate in the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, and the western Pacific Ocean. Each of the four-to-five ship squadrons can carry all of the equipment and supplies to support a Marine Air-Ground Task Force of about 17,300 people for a period of 30 days.

The unique design of maritime prepositioning ships makes them a key part of the nation's strategic sealift capability -- providing the mobility for U.S. forces to respond swiftly and powerfully to crises throughout the world. The ships are capable of off-loading at piers or from offshore with special equipment. In addition, the ship's roll-on/roll-off ramps are ideal for fast off-loading of wheeled and tracked vehicles. Each ship has a flight deck for helicopter operations but carries no operational aircraft.

This vessel, the fourteenth ship in the maritime prepositioning force, was authorized for procurement last year. Congress appropriated $110 million to acquire and convert it as part of the maritime prepositioning force enhancement program. A contract for the procurement of this ship will be awarded at a later date. Maritime prepositioning ships are privately owned vessels chartered to the U.S. Navy and operated by civilian mariners employed by a company under contract to the Military Sealift Command. Active duty U.S. Navy personnel are also embarked.

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