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New U.S. Navy Destroyer Will Be Named For This War Hero Who Was Denied A White House Ceremony

July 29, 2016

An Arleigh Burke-class-guided missile destroyer was named after a Marine Medal of Honor recipient who fought during the Vietnam War.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus held a ceremony at Marine Barracks in Wahington D.C. on Thursday to name the Arleigh-Burke class destroyer DDG 124 after retired Col. Harvery C. Barnum Jr.

“It is a great honor to name this ship in recognition of Col. Barnum,” Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said at the ceremony, according to a Navy statement. “I have no doubt that all who serve aboard her will carry on the legacy of service and commitment exemplified by this Marine Corps hero.”

Barnum earned the Medal of Honor, which is the highest award for combat valor, for heroism during a battle on December 18, 1965 in Vietnam’s Quang Tin province.

At the time, First Lieutenant Barnum was serving as an artillery forward observer with the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines when his company was ambushed. While taking heavy fire on an isolated hill, Barnum took command after his commander was critically wounded and radio operator was killed. Barnum led the counterattack and helped re-organize his units while assisting with the evacuation of wounded soldiers.

“His sound and swift decisions and his obvious calm served to stabilize the badly decimated units and his gallant example as he stood exposed repeatedly to point out targets served as an inspiration to all,” his award citation says.

“An O-2 on [temporary active duty] had, in a few hours, done more and showed more courage and selflessness than most of us do in a lifetime,” Mabus said at the ceremony on Thursday.

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Barnum is one one of two Medal of Honor recipients during the Vietnam War who was denied a White House Ceremony due to the large public disapproval with the Vietnam War.

The Navy Destroyer will be built by General Dynamics Corp. at its Bath Iron Works facility in Maine and is expected to enter the fleet in 2024.