If you’ve ever seen the HBO miniseries The Pacific, you may have heard of the name John Basilone (played by Jon Seda). Well, on Tuesday, August 16, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced that a future warship would be named after the World War II hero.
Gunnery Sergeant Basilone was already honored with a railroad being named after him in northern San Diego County. He received the Medal of Honor for his part in the battle of Guadalcanal. The island hosted one of the most significant battles of the war against the Japanese, so much so that it helped turn the tide of the war.
Basilone and his fellow Marines pushed back countless offensives by the Japanese looking to take Henderson Airfield. While Marines held the airfield, the Japanese could not deliver supplies to their troops on the ground. The Japanese abandoned the island in 1943.
Basilone returned to the battlefield after a very successful tour stateside to sell war bonds. Unfortunately, he was killed February 1945 on the island of Iwo Jima. The Navy Cross was awarded to him posthumously, making him the only soldier during World War II to receive both the Medal of Honor and Navy Cross.
Basilone already had a destroyer named after him that was decommissioned 40 years ago. DDG 122, the destroyer second destroyer to be named after Basilone, will be activated in six years according to the Navy.
Next, Mabus will be traveling to San Francisco following the Camp Pendleton event. While he is there, he will announce that the Military Sealift Command oiler will be named after gay rights activist Harvey Milk.
Harvey Milk was a Navy diving instructor in San Diego. He was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors where he became the first openly gay public official. He and the Mayor of San Francisco were murdered a year later by a fellow city official.