Members of the USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) wardroom visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Pentagon July 30, to honor the ship’s namesake and learn what the future holds in store for the surface Navy.
While at the Memorial, the officers learned about the history of its creation and read the Medal of Honor citation for the ship’s namesake, Marine Corps Sgt. Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez. A charcoal impression of Gonzalez’ name on the wall was also completed for future display on the ship.
"We took the wardroom to visit the Vietnam Memorial to remind us of the sacrifice members of the Naval Service have made in defense of freedom,” said Cdr. Kyle Gantt, Gonzalez commanding officer. “I am honored to lead a team named after a hero like Freddy Gonzalez."
A summary of the citation for Sgt. Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez, U.S. Marine Corps, says he served as platoon commander for 3rd Platoon, Company A. On Jan. 31, 1968, Gonzalez' unit was formed as a reaction force and deployed to Hue City, Vietnam.
While moving by truck convoy, the Marines were twice hit by heavy enemy fire. After dispatching the snipers, Gonzalez exposed himself to immense danger and moved his platoon to safety. Despite his own injuries, he managed to bring a wounded Marine to safety. Although being seriously wounded again on Feb. 3, he refused medical treatment in order to supervise his men and lead the next attack. The next day, the enemy inflicted heavy casualties on the platoon with automatic weapons and rocket fire. Gonzalez successfully knocked out a rocket position and suppressed much of the enemy fire using light antitank assault weapons before falling mortally wounded.
“It was a real honor to see his name on the wall and to hear the citation read,” said Lt. j.g. Aaron Vandenberg, assistant chief engineer aboard Gonzalez. “Seeing all those people give their respects at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial made me remember how proud I am to serve.”
Following the visit, the Gonzalez officers paid a visit to the office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Surface Navy Directorate (OPNAV N96), where they received a brief on future developments for the Surface Navy from Capt. David McFarland.