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Navy Destroyers To Be Named After San Diego War Heroes

Three destroyers will be named after military heroes with San Diego County ties at a ceremony tomorrow, the Navy announced today.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers will be the USS John Finn, USS Ralph Johnson and USS Rafael Peralta. Family members of each namesake are scheduled to attend the ceremony at Navy Base San Diego, according to the Navy.

Finn, a longtime San Diego County 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.

Finn, who served 15 years in the Navy and died in 2010 at age 100, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.

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.

He was also awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously, and the Veterans Administration medical center in his 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. He was given a Navy Cross, prompting unsuccessful efforts by his family, Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-El Cajon, and other lawmakers to get the award upgraded to a Medal of Honor.

"Finn, Johnson and Peralta have all been recognized with some of our nation's highest awards,'' said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. "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.''

Lt. Gen. John Toolan, commanding general, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, will preside over a ceremony. Mabus was detained in Washington, D.C., in wake of the fatal shootings at the Washington Navy Yard.

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