Surface Navy Remembers Medal of Honor Recipients (Part 4)
The U.S. Navy’s Surface Fleet currently operates 19 warships named for Medal of Honor recipients; with 7 more to soon join the fleet. Today we recognize six of those Surface Force ships: USS Oscar Austin, USS Cole, USS Jason Dunham, USS Porter, USS Shoup, and USS Stockdale.
USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) honors U.S. Marine Corps Private First Class Oscar P. Austin. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for bravely attempting a rescue of an unconscious Marine comrade from enemy fire during a battle in Vietnam on Feb. 23, 1969. Even after absorbing a grenade blast, Austin continued trying to protect and recover his fellow Marine from an open position. He ultimately suffered a fatal wound at the hands of a North Vietnamese soldier.
USS Cole (DDG 67) honors U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Darrell Samuel Cole. On Feb. 19, 1945, while engaged in action against enemy Japanese forces during the assault on Iwo Jima, Cole advanced, attacked, and withdrew against enemy pillboxes (small concrete forts) that had his squad pinned down. Though he wrought total destruction of the Japanese strong point, he was killed by a grenade while withdrawing for the third time. His actions on the day allowed his squad to storm the remaining fortifications and seize the mission objective.
USS Jason Dunham (DDG109) honors U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Jason L. Dunham. He led his team of Marines in assisting their ambushed Battalion Commander’s convoy on Apr. 14, 2004. As Dunham and one of his fire teams attempted to stop and search a group of suspect vehicles, an insurgent leapt out and began attacking him. The insurgent released a grenade and Dunham immediately covered it with his helmet and body while warning his fellow Marines. At least two fellow Marines were saved by his actions but Dunham was mortally wounded by the impact.
USS Porter (DG 78) honors U.S. Marine Corps Colonel David Dixon Porter. On Nov. 17, 1901, as a captain, he led a daring surprise attack at the junction of the Cadacan and Sohoton Rivers, Samar, during the Philippine-American War. His troops killed 30 enemy fighters, captured and destroyed powder magazines, guns, rice, food, cuartels (military quarters) and destroyed previous impenetrable positions.
USS Shoup (DDG 86) honors U.S. Marine Corps Colonel David Monroe Shoup He served as the commanding officer of all Marine Corps troops in action at Bentio Island, Tarawa Atoll, and Gilbert Islands during Nov. 20-22, 1943. Though seriously wounded early on in battle, his heroism inspired his troops to rally and produce smashing attacks against the Japanese. He was largely responsible for the final decisive defeat of the enemy.
USS Stockdale (DDG 106) honors U.S Navy Rear Admiral James B. Stockdale. He was captured as a commander during the Vietnam War and held more than seven years as at Hoa Lo Prison as a Prisoner of War (POW). As the senior naval officer imprisoned, Stockdale led the POWs to resist interrogation and refuse participation in propaganda exploitation. He even inflicted a near-fatal self-injury to show his captors he would rather die than cooperate. This action convinced the captors of his indomitable spirit and prompted them to end their use of excessive harassment and torture of all POWs.
The history of our grateful nation may have been drastically different if not for the selfless and courageous acts of men like these.
This series returns in a few weeks as the Surface Navy recognizes more Medal of Honor namesakes. Until then please visit our blog weekly to enjoy other great topics surrounding our U.S. Navy’s Surface Forces.