The United States Navy has commissioned the USS Ralph Johnson (DDG-114), meaning that it is now fully operational. It’s an Arleigh Burke-class, guided-missile destroyer, and has been in production since 26 Sept., 2011. This is the 64th of 75 total Arleigh Burke-class ships that have been planned. It has several upgrades from its predecessors, including the Aegis Baseline 9 Integrated Air and Missile Defense system that greatly increases the ships’ abilities to fight in the water in collaborative efforts with both ships and aircraft; it also has mine detecting capabilities. The ship holds 315 crew, and will be based out of Everett, WA.

The ship was docked in Charleston, SC, and over 6,000 people watched as it was put into service.

The USS Ralph Johnson’s namesake is PFC Ralph Johnson of the U.S. Marines. He was killed in action on March 19, 1968. Fighting from a covered position, a hand grenade was thrown at him and his fellow Marines. He jumped on top of the grenade, definitively saving the life of at least one other Marine, and enabling the rest to hold that current position. He was 19 at the time, and he would later be awarded the Medal of Honor.

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You can read Private First Class Ralph Johnson’s MOH citation here:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a reconnaissance scout with Company A, First Reconnaissance Battalion, First Marine Division in action against the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong forces in the Republic of Vietnam. In the early morning hours of March 5, 1968, during OPERATION ROCK, First Class Johnson was a member of a fifteen-man reconnaissance patrol manning an observation post on Hill 146 overlooking the Quan Duc Valley deep in enemy controlled territory. They were attacked by a platoon-size hostile force employing automatic weapons, satchel charges and hand grenades. Suddenly a hand grenade landed in the three-man fighting hole occupied by Private First Class Johnson and two fellow Marines. Realizing the inherent danger to his comrades, he shouted a warning and unhesitatingly hurled himself upon the explosive device. When the grenade exploded, Private First Class Johnson absorbed the tremendous impact of the blast and was killed instantly. His prompt and heroic act saved the life of one Marine at the cost of his own and undoubtedly prevented the enemy from penetrating his sector of the patrol’s perimeter. Private First Class Johnson’s courage inspiring valor and selfless devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”

Featured image courtesy of DOD | Photo by Andrew Young.

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