Destroyers honored at ceremony at Navy Base San Diego - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Destroyers honored at ceremony at Navy Base San Diego

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Three destroyers will be named after military heroes with San Diego County ties at a ceremony Friday.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers will be the USS John Finn, USS Ralph Johnson and USS Rafael Peralta. Family members of each are scheduled to attend the ceremony at Navy Base San Diego, according to the Navy.

Finn, a longtime San Diego County resident, manned a machine gun at Kaneohe Naval Air Station during the attack on Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941. The then-32-year-old chief petty officer fired at Japanese aircraft for more than two hours even though he was shot in the arm and foot and suffered numerous shrapnel wounds.

For his actions, Finn was awarded the first Medal of Honor to be given during World War II, receiving the medal in 1942. He spent a total of 15 years in the Navy, retiring as a lieutenant. He died in 2010 at age 100.

Private first class Johnson, a Camp Pendleton-based Marine, was just 19 years old when he saved two fellow servicemen by falling on a grenade that landed in his foxhole during a firefight in Vietnam on March 5, 1968. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously, and the Veterans Administration medical center in his hometown of Charleston, S.C., was named after him in 1991.

Peralta, a Marine sergeant who grew up in San Diego, died at age 25 when he smothered a grenade in Fallujah, Iraq, on Nov. 15, 2004. He was awarded the Navy Cross, prompting unsuccessful efforts by his family, Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-El Cajon, and other lawmakers to secure the Medal of Honor instead.

"Finn, Johnson and Peralta have all been recognized with some of our nation's highest awards," said Navy Secretary Ray 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."

Lt. Gen. John Toolan, commanding general, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, will preside over Friday's ceremony. Mabus was detained in Washington, D.C., in the aftermath of the Navy Yard shootings.

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are 509 feet long and carry a crew of 276. They are designed to be used in multiple types of mission with a combination of an advanced anti-submarine warfare system, land attack cruise missiles, ship-to-ship missiles and advanced anti-aircraft missiles, according to the Navy.

Other vessels in the class are named after recent Medal of Honor winners, including Lt. Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan; and Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham, who died in battle in Iraq.

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