Surface Navy Remembers Medal of Honor Recipients (Part 5)
There is a saying, “true courage is being scared but moving forward despite it.” Many military service members push through moments of fear to accomplish the mission at hand. A prestigious few earn the Medal of Honor award for their brave actions taken in the face of grave danger.
The U.S. Navy’s Surface Fleet currently operates 19 warships named for Medal of Honor recipients. The total will be growing in the near future as nine new vessels honoring Medal of Honor recipients join the fleet. Today we recognize three of the planned additions: the future USS Thomas Hudner, the future USS John Finn, and the future USS Inouye.
The future USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116) honors Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade Thomas Jerome Hudner Jr. On Dec. 4, 1950, he purposely crashed his plane into an enemy infested area near the Chosin River in an attempt to reach and rescue a fellow U.S. Navy aviator trapped alive in his shot down, burning aircraft. Despite knowing there would be little chance of escaping the enemy, or surviving in the cold of the snowy mountain, Hudner braved a rescue anyway. He even called for a helicopter to assist with the failed rescue attempt; the other downed pilot would ultimately meet his demise from wounds suffered in the crash.
The future USS John Finn (DDG 113) honors Navy Lieutenant John William Finn. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for steadfastly manning a machine gun during the incoming Japanese attack at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Despite being wounded multiple times, Finn continued to man the open position in the face of heavy machine gun strafing fire from enemy aircraft. He only relinquished weapon control after being ordered to report to a medical facility for treatment of his wounds. Finn would soon return to the squadron and supervise the rearming of returning U.S. military planes.
The future USS Daniel Inouye (DDG 118) honors U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye. In the vicinity of San Terenzo, Italy, Inouye swiftly directed his platoon through automatic and small arms fire during an attack to capture an artillery and mortar post on April 21, 1945. The team got within 40 yards of the enemy when crossfire stopped the advance. Inouye then crawled within five yards of an enemy machine gun nest and lobbed in two grenades, destroying the emplacement. He then lunged upright and neutralized a second enemy machine gun post. Inouye was wounded by a sniper’s bullet and an exploding grenade shattered his right arm. Despite the wounds, he kept fighting and directing his platoon until they were capable of establishing new defensive positions. Their advance was instrumental in capturing the ridge. Inouye went on to become a long serving senator for the state of Hawaii.
In the face of overwhelming odds and split second life-and-death decisions, these Medal of Honor recipients risked their lives for the safety of their comrades and their nation. Indeed, they looked fear in the eye and charged on despite it. We shall always gratefully remember them for it and look forward to having their namesake ships join the Surface Fleet.
This series will return in a few weeks as the Surface Navy recognizes more Medal of Honor namesakes that will join the fleet. Until then please visit our blog weekly to enjoy other great topics surrounding our U.S. Navy’s Surface Forces.