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New Navy Destroyer To Be Named After World War II Hero Marine Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone

August 12, 2016

Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus announced on Tuesday that a United States Destroyer will be named after Marine Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone, a Medal of Honor recipient for his act of heroism during the Battle for Henderson Field at Guadalcanal.

“It is a great honor to name this ship in recognition of John Basilone,” Mabus said in a 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.”

During the Battle for Henderson Field, his unit came under attack by 3,000 soldiers from the Japanese Sendai Division. Under his command, two sections of machine guns fought for 2 days, leaving only himself and two other Marines alive. Over those two days, he and his unit annihilated the soldiers.

Basilone’s Medal of Honor Citation reads,

“For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action against enemy Japanese forces, above and beyond the call of duty, while serving with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division in the Lunga Area. Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on 24 and 25 October 1942. While the enemy was hammering at the Marines’ defensive positions, Sgt. Basilone, in charge of 2 sections of heavy machineguns, fought valiantly to check the savage and determined assault. In a fierce frontal attack with the Japanese blasting his guns with grenades and mortar fire, one of Sgt. Basilone’s sections, with its guncrews, was put out of action, leaving only 2 men able to carry on. Moving an extra gun into position, he placed it in action, then, under continual fire, repaired another and personally manned it, gallantly holding his line until replacements arrived. A little later, with ammunition critically low and the supply lines cut off, Sgt. Basilone, at great risk of his life and in the face of continued enemy attack, battled his way through hostile lines with urgently needed shells for his gunners, thereby contributing in large measure to the virtual annihilation of a Japanese regiment. His great personal valor and courageous initiative were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.”

Besides being awarded the Medal of Honor, he was posthumously awarded the Marine Corps second highest decoration for valor, the Navy Cross, after he singlehandedly destroyed a blockhouse and its defending garrison during the invasion of Iwo Jima. He then aided in rescuing a tank that was trapped in an enemy mine field by guiding it to safety despite taking heavy fire. At the edge of the airfield, he was killed by Japanese mortar shrapnel.

Basilones’ actions were represented in the HBO miniseries, The Pacific.

The naming ceremony for the future Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John Basilone will be on Tuesday at Camp Pendleton, California.