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Navy Names Ships After San Diego War Heroes

The next three Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyers will be named after military heroes with ties to San Diego County, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced today.

The ships will be the USS John Finn, the USS Ralph Johnson and the USS Rafael Peralta, Mabus said.

Finn and Johnson are Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. Peralta was awarded the Navy Cross, but there is a campaign afoot to get President Barack Obama to upgrade his award to the Medal of Honor.

"Finn, Johnson and Peralta have all been recognized with some of our nation's highest awards," Mabus said. "I want to ensure their service and sacrifice will be known by today's sailors and Marines and honored for several decades to come by a new generation of Americans and people from around the world who will come in contact with these ships."

Finn, a longtime backcountry resident, manned a machine gun at Kaneohe Naval Air Station during the attack on Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941. He fired at Japanese aircraft for more than two hours despite being shot in the arm and foot, and receiving numerous shrapnel wounds.

He served 15 years in the Navy and died in 2010 at the age of 100.

Johnson, a Camp Pendleton-based Marine, saved two fellow servicemen when he fell on a grenade that landed in his foxhole during a firefight in Vietnam on March 5, 1968.

The Veterans Administration medical center in Johnson's hometown of Charleston, S.C., was named after him in 1991.

Peralta, who grew up in San Diego, also died when he covered up a grenade that exploded on Nov. 15, 2004, in Fallujah, Iraq.

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