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Navy to name ships after three San Diego war heroes

February 15, 2012 | 12:07 pm

PeraltaThe Navy plans to name ships after three San Diego area military heroes:

-- John Finn, a sailor and Medal of Honor recipient in World War II;

-- Ralph Johnson, a Marine and posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam war;

-- Rafael Peralta, a Marine and posthumous recipient of the Navy Cross during the war in Iraq.

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers set to join the fleet in coming years will be named for Finn, Johnson and Peralta, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced Wednesday. 

"I want to ensure their service and sacrifice will be known by today's sailors and Marines and honored for several decades to come," Mabus said.

Finn was cited for bravery during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. Stationed at Kaneohe Bay, Finn immediately grabbed a machine gun and begun firing at the Japanese planes. He retired as a lieutenant and lived in eastern San Diego County. He died in 2010 at age 100.

Pfc. Johnson, from Charleston, S.C., trained at the San Diego boot camp and Camp Pendleton before deploying to Vietnam. During combat in 1968 he threw himself on an enemy hand grenade to save fellow Marines. He was 19.

Sgt. Peralta, who lived in San Diego, was killed during the battle in Fallouja in November 2004. Marines who were with him said that despite being wounded, he smothered an enemy grenade and saved the lives of other Marines. He was 25.

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta. Credit: U.S. Marine Corps.