Of the Navy’s five new ships, two have a special place in San Diego's heart.
The Secretary for the Navy says three guided missile destroyers will be named the USS John Finn, the USS Ralph Johnson and the USS Rafael Peralta. The Peralta and the Finn are both named after San Diego military personnel.
There will also be two combat ships named USS Sioux City and USS Omaha.
Staff Sergeant Rafael Peralta lived in San Diego and was awarded the Navy Cross for covering a grenade with his body to save his fellow Marines during the War in Iraq in 2004.
The Department of Defense rejected a request to award the Medal of Honor to Peralta. Rep. Duncan Hunter, along with other politicians, appealed the decision to award Sgt. Rafael Peralta the Navy Cross instead.
Peralta's nomination was tainted by reports he was accidentally shot by a fellow Marine shortly before an insurgent lobbed the grenade. Eyewitnesses described how the Marine deliberately used his body to protect fellow troops from a grenade blast.
In response to the ship-naming, Hunter said Peralta will be better remembered as one of the country’s heroes.
“This is a very special day for Sergeant Peralta’s family, in particular,” Hunter said in a statement. “They have waited patiently for the Navy and the Department of Defense to recognize the actions of Sergeant Peralta, which are consistent with the Medal of Honor—an award he was nominated for but was wrongly denied.”
Longtime San Diegan Lt. John Finn was the first man to receive a Medal of Honor in World War II. He was buried in 2010 with full military honors.
Finn passed away May 27, 2010 in San Diego, where he'd been living for more than 50 years, at age 100.