One of the Navy’s newest attack ships will be named in honor of Charlestonian Ralph H. Johnson, a posthumous Medal of Honor recipient whose name is also on the VA Medical Center downtown.
The Department of Defense said today a new Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer will be named the USS Ralph Johnson in recognition of his sacrifice.
Raised in Charleston, Johnson enlisted in the Marines in 1967. In January 1968, the young private first class was sent to Vietnam.
He was killed in March 1968 after throwing himself on a grenade that had landed in a foxhole, while at the same time shouting a warning to his fellow Marines. He was 19. The act saved the life of platoon leader Lt. Clebe McClary of Pawley’s Island.
“Ralph Johnson was a Marine willing to give what it takes,” McClary said in 2006. “He is what we are all supposed to be.”
“It is an honor to walk through this VA’s doors every day and know that we have the privilege of bearing the name of a true American hero,” Scott Isaacks, acting director of the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center said.
The next five Navy ships include three Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers: the USS John Finn, the USS Ralph Johnson, and the USS Rafael Peralta, all named for decorated veterans; and two littoral combat ships, the USS Sioux City and the USS Omaha.