Lt.Gen. John A. Toolan, commanding general, First Marine Expeditionary Force, will preside over a ceremony in recognition of the Navy’s three newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyers, USS John Finn, USS Ralph Johnson, and USS Rafael Peralta. Family members of the three namesake ships will be in attendance. The ceremony will take place at Naval Base San Diego, Friday, Sept. 20 at 1:30 p.m. Toolan was selected to represent secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus who is not able to attend given the tragic shooting at the Washington Navy Yard earlier this week.
Mabus named the three destroyers after Navy and Marine Corps heroes whose actions occurred during different conflicts which spanned several decades, but were united in their uncommon valor.
John Finn, who retired as a lieutenant, received the Medal of Honor from Adm. Chester Nimitz for displaying “magnificent courage in the face of almost certain death” during the Japanese attack on military installations in Hawaii during Pearl Harbor. Marine Corps Pfc. Ralph Henry Johnson was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for shouting a warning to his fellow Marines and throwing himself on an explosive device, saving the life of one Marine and preventing the enemy from penetrating his sector of the patrol’s perimeter during the Vietnam War. Marine Corps Sgt. Rafael Peralta was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for selflessly covering a grenade with his body to save his fellow Marines from the blast during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“Finn, Johnson and Peralta have all been recognized with some of our nation’s highest awards,” said Mabus. “I want to ensure their service and sacrifice will be known by today's sailors and Marines and honored for several decades to come by a new generation of Americans and people from around the world who will come in contact with these ships.”
The Arleigh Burke class destroyers will be able to conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection. All three ships will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and will contain a myriad of offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime warfare in keeping with the Navy’s ability to execute the Department of Defense’ defense strategy.