The Navy announced Tuesday at a ceremony at Camp Pendleton that an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, DDG 122, will be named after John Basilone, a US Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during the Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Maybus made the announcement in front of a group of distinguished guests, including the second cousin of Basilone 95-year-old Constance Basilone Imbese. She described Basilone as a caring leader, “You could never, never meet a more generous kind and wonderful dedicated person than him,” she said.
Basilone was awarded the Medal of Honor in recognition of his outstanding heroism at Guadalcanal. He was serving with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, when he became involved in a fierce fight. Using only a machine gun and a pistol he killed 38 enemy fighters. He and two fellow Marines survived.
The Gunnery Sergeant returned home, a native of New Jersey, to help promote war bonds. But his cousin said he felt he needed to with his fellow Marines, now in battle in Iwo Jima. “When he said he was going back and we had a funny feeling in the heart ‘don't go back still do war bonds’ he said ‘I hate it, my mind is with my troops’ you know, and that's what happened and he went back I never saw him again,” says Basilone Imbese.
At Iwo Jima Basilone single-handedly destroyed a Japanese blockhouse while braving heavy enemy fire. It was there, says Ray Maybus as he reflected at the ceremony on this honor, that Basilone made the ultimate sacrifice. “The fact that after receiving the Medal of Honor for his actions and on Guadalcanal he pushed to go back, was turned down and pushed again went back and died,” showed the kind of hero Basilone was Maybus said.
This is the second ship to be named in Basilone’s honor. The USS Basilone was decommissioned in 1977, following the Vietnam War.