Almost 200 Navy and Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipients have never been awarded the honor of having a warship named after them. However, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus on Monday named yet another one of these new vessels after a politician, and one that has never served in the military.
Contrary to Navy guidelines and tradition, Mabus announced that the new Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer will be named the USS Carl Levin.
The Navy has a long history of naming destroyers after deceased Medal of Honor recipients, Admirals or Generals that played large roles in wars, or other combat heroes. However, this tradition appears to be on it’s way out, angering many veterans and politicians alike.
In a new report privately delivered to lawmakers, the Congressional Research Service did an extensive examination this winter and found that, of 318 Medal of Honor recipients in the Navy and Marine Corps, 100 have had a ship named after them; the large majority of them — 186 — have not.
One congressional staffer noted that Mr. Levin presided over the committee during the Obama administration’s major drawdown of troops and weapons systems. Joint Chiefs of Staff officers testified in recent months that they doubt they can fight one major war on the schedule outlined in the National Military Strategy.
An examination by The Washington Times of the 71 Arleigh Burke monikers shows Mr. Levin is the only one — except Winston Churchill — who does not meet the Navy guideline for destroyers. Most Arleigh Burke honorees are naval war heroes; a significant number earned the Medal of Honor. There are several Navy secretaries.
A spokesperson for Mabus, Capt. Patrick McNally, responded to the report, saying:
“He names ships for American heroes and considers Senator Levin’s long commitment to the nation worthy of recognition …. The naming conventions are guidelines set by the secretary. He can deviate from them if he desires.”
It should be noted that not all naming after politicians are unsatisfactory. President George HW Bush, Sen. John McCain and Sen. John Warner all served heroically in the Navy or Marine Corps.
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