U.S. Navy destroyer

The guided-missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) transits the Chesapeake Bay on its way back into port. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class RJ Stratchko/Released)

A future U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer will be named in honor of former U.S. Sen. Jeremiah Denton of Alabama.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today praised Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer for the decision.

Jeremiah Denton

Jeremiah Denton

The late Denton, who hailed from Mobile, was a U.S. Navy Vietnam veteran and Navy Cross recipient.

The ship will be constructed at Ingalls Shipbuilding shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi – roughly 40 miles from Denton’s hometown of Mobile. More than 2,000 Ingalls employees live in Alabama, according to a news release from Shelby's office.

“Secretary Spencer’s decision to honor Admiral Jeremiah Denton embodies the significant impact of his courageous actions during the Vietnam War,” said Shelby in the news release. “Admiral Denton’s patriotism, sacrifice, and noble service to Alabama and our great nation will never be forgotten. He is very worthy of this honor, as his legacy merits this level of recognition.”

“Admiral Denton’s legacy is an inspiration to all who wear our nation’s uniform,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer in the release. “His heroic actions during a defining period in our history have left an indelible mark on our Navy and Marine Corps team and our nation. His service is a shining example for our Sailors and Marines and this ship will continue his legacy for decades to come.”

Denton graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1946 and went on to serve in the Navy for 34 years as a test pilot, flight instructor, and squadron leader. Following decades of military service, Admiral Denton was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980 where he honorably served the state of Alabama for six years.

In July of 1965, then-Commander Denton’s A-6 Intruder jet was shot down over North Vietnam. He spent the following eight years as a prisoner of war – many of those years in isolation. During an interview with a Japanese media outlet, Denton used Morse code to blink “torture,” signaling for the first time to U.S. Naval Intelligence that American troops were being tortured. Despite attempts to force military information out of Denton with torturous methods, he remained loyal to the United States. He was released from captivity in 1973 and finally retired from the Navy as a Rear Admiral in 1977. His heroic actions earned him the Navy Cross, the U.S. military's second-highest decoration awarded for valor in combat.

The future USS Jeremiah Denton (DDG 129) will be capable of fighting air, surface, and subsurface battles simultaneously. The Navy vessel will contain a combination of offensive and defensive weapon systems designed to support maritime warfare, including integrated air and missile defense and vertical launch capabilities.

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