Surface Navy Recognizes National Medal of Honor Day
Today we celebrate “National Medal of Honor Day”- a day to remember and reflect on those brave, self-sacrificing individuals who went above and beyond the call of duty. In recognition of those heroes we present the first installment of a five part series highlighting surface force ships whose namesakes were awarded the prestigious decoration.
The Medal of Honor is the highest military award in the nation that was created during the Civil War but signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on Dec. 21, 1861. The medal is only awarded to U.S. military personnel by the U.S. President in the name of Congress. It was in 1990 that Congress declared March 25 as the National Medal of Honor Day.
The U.S. Surface Fleet currently has 19 commissioned warships named after Medal of Honor recipients and seven more on the way. Today we honor USS McCampbell, USS Lassen, USS Michael Murphy, and USS Benfold. The Secretary of the Navy, currently Ray Mabus, is in charge of naming the ships after Medal of Honor recipients.
USS McCampbell (DDG 85) is named in honor of Capt. David McCampbell, a naval aviator who was awarded the Medal of Honor and a Navy Cross. He was also named the Navy’s ‘Top Ace‘ and credited with shooting down a total of 34 Japanese airplanes in World War II. McCampbell also received three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Legion of Merit, the Silver Star, and the Air Medal.
USS Lassen (DDG 82) is named in honor of Lt. Clyde Everett Lassen. He earned the Medal of Honor for his courageous rescue of two downed aviators while commander of a search and rescue helicopter in Vietnam. Lassen became the first naval aviator and the fifth U.S. Navy Sailor to be awarded the nation’s highest military decoration for valor in the Vietnam War.
Both USS McCampbell and USS Lassen are forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.
USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) is named after the late Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a SEAL, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his brave actions in Afghanistan. Lt. Murphy and his team were doing reconnaissance as part of Operation Red Wings. He risked and lost his own life while trying to call for help for his men after being ambushed by more than 50 anti-coalition militia fighters in Afghanistan. Murphy was the first person to be awarded the medal for his bravery in Afghanistan, and the first member of the U.S. Navy to receive the award since the Vietnam War. USS Murphy’s homeport is in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
USS Benfold (DDG 84) is named in honor of Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Edward C. Benfold who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions when he sacrificed his life to save two Marines while serving with the First Marine Division in Korea. USS Benfold’s homeport is in San Diego, California.
Over the years- the Medal has become a historic symbol of bravery, and a sign of respect to all who have earned it. Currently there are 78 living Medal of Honor recipients and 19 recipients who have received two medals, and it has been awarded to 3,493 individuals.
Please join us in the upcoming weeks as we recognize the remaining surface ships named for heroes in future installments of Surface Navy Remembers Medal of Honor Recipients.