What do an unindicted conspirator in the Abscam scandal, an unrepentant segregationist, and the United States’ only unelected President have in common? Respectively, Congressman John P. Murtha, Senator John C. Stennis, and President Gerald Ford all have a major combatant named for them. Conversely, what similarity do the officer who destroyed the Japanese carrier Akagi at Midway, the captain of the USS Johnston (DD-557) at Samar, and the U.S. Navy’s first African American aviator all share? Neither Lieutenant Commander Richard Best nor Commander Ernest Evans nor Ensign Jesse L. Brown currently has a warship named for him. The Navy recognized the heroism of Brown in 1994 and Evans in 1968 with eponymous combatants, but Lieutenant Commander Best, despite his pivotal role in the Pacific Theater’s decisive battle, has never been so honored.
We Must Change How We Name Ships
Marshall Johnson Jr. ca. 1896The new system should honor heroes and commemorate historical and geographical landmarks.
By James Young