By Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made many important contributions to our nation and its military throughout history. As we continue to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, we take a look at three U.S. Navy ships named for three great Americans.
USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93)
Named for Rear Adm. Gordon Pai’ea Chung-Hoon, USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) was commissioned on September 18, 2004 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
A native of Hawaii himself, Rear Adm. Chung-Hoon was born on July 25, 1910 in Honolulu. The second youngest of five Chung-Hoon children, he attended the U.S. Naval Academy where he was a member of the Navy Football team before graduating in May 1934.
Rear Adm. Chung-Hoon is a recipient of the Navy Cross and Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary heroism as Commanding Officer of USS Sigsbee (DD 502) from May 1944 to October 1945.
On April 14, 1945, while on radar picket station off Okinawa, a kamikaze crashed into Sigsbee, reducing her starboard engine to five knots – knocking out the ship’s port engine and steering control. The attack killed 23 Sigsbee crewmen and nearly sank the ship. Despite the damage, Rear Adm. Chung-Hoon, then a commander, valiantly kept his anti-aircraft batteries delivering “prolonged and effective fire” against the continuing enemy air attack while simultaneously directing the damage control efforts that allowed Sigsbee to make port under her own power.
The Military Sealift Command large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ship USNS Pililaau (T-AKR 304) is named for Medal of Honor recipient Army Pfc. Herbert Kailieha Pililaau who was an American combat soldier killed during the Korean War.
Pililaau was born on Oct. 10, 1928 in Waianae, Territory of Hawaii, and was drafted in to the U.S. Army in 1951.
After completing basic training at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, Pililaau was deployed to Korea in March 1951 where he served as a private first class with Company C, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division.
After fighting in the Battle of Bloody Ridge, his division moved on to a hill near Pia-ri, which would come to be known as Heartbreak Ridge.
While attempting to hold a key location, Pililaau’s platoon was nearly overrun by repeated enemy attack, and his unit was ordered to withdraw.
Volunteering to stay behind and provide cover, Pililaau fired his weapons and threw his grenades until he exhausted his ammunition. Pililaau then began throwing rocks at the attackers before charging at them with his trench knife in one hand and a clenched fist with the other until he was finally overcome and mortally wounded.
When his platoon retook the position the following day they found more than 40 enemy dead around his body.
Pililaau was interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu on Feb. 26, 1952.
PCU Daniel Inouye (DDG 118)
The future USS Daniel Inouye (DDG 118) is named to honor former Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii.
During World War II, Inouye served in the U.S. Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Composed of soldiers of Japanese ancestry, the 442nd became one of the most decorated military units in U.S. history. For his combat heroism, which cost him his right arm, Inouye was awarded the Medal of Honor.
Inouye would go on to serve 50 years in the United States Senate representing his home state of Hawaii until 2012.
Inouye’s Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of The Congress the Medal of Honor to
Second Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye United States Army for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:
Second Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 21 April 1945, in the vicinity of San Terenzo, Italy. While attacking a defended ridge guarding an important road junction, Second Lieutenant Inouye skillfully directed his platoon through a hail of automatic weapon and small arms fire, in a swift enveloping movement that resulted in the capture of an artillery and mortar post and brought his men to within 40 yards of the hostile force. Emplaced in bunkers and rock formations, the enemy halted the advance with crossfire from three machine guns. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Second Lieutenant Inouye crawled up the treacherous slope to within five yards of the nearest machine gun and hurled two grenades, destroying the emplacement. Before the enemy could retaliate, he stood up and neutralized a second machine gun nest. Although wounded by a sniper’s bullet, he continued to engage other hostile positions at close range until an exploding grenade shattered his right arm. Despite the intense pain, he refused evacuation and continued to direct his platoon until enemy resistance was broken and his men were again deployed in defensive positions. In the attack, 25 enemy soldiers were killed and eight others captured. By his gallant, aggressive tactics and by his indomitable leadership, Second Lieutenant Inouye enabled his platoon to advance through formidable resistance, and was instrumental in the capture of the ridge. Second Lieutenant Inouye’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.