The Navy's newest Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer will be christened in honor of a Vietnam-era Medal of Honor recipient on Saturday.
The USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114) will be christened at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi by ship sponsor Georgeann McRaven, wife of retired admiral and former U.S. Special Operations Command commander William McRaven, Defense Department official said in a news release.
Johnson, a Marine private first class and a reconnaissance scout, received the Medal of Honor posthumously after sacrificing his life to save two fellow Marines by covering a live grenade with his body. He was killed March 5, 1968 at age 19 near the Quan Duc Duc Valley in Vietnam.
"The christening of the future USS Ralph Johnson represents yet another example of how our Navy's partnership with the highly-skilled shipbuilders of our nation continues to help us grow our fleet," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in a statement. "Because of the hard work of these men and women, the name Ralph Johnson, and the heroism this name embodies, will live on for years to come in the steel of this great warship and the deeds of the sailors and Marines who sail aboard her."
The Ralph Johnson will be the 64th destroyer in its class and will be homeported in Everett, Washington after its commissioning in 2017, officials said in the release.
The next destroyer set to join the fleet, the USS Rafael Peralta, shares a similarly heroic namesake: Peralta was a Marine sergeant who received the Navy Cross posthumously after covering a grenade with his body to protect other Marines in a house in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004.