US Navy names Arleigh Burke destroyer after Korean War hero

The ninth US Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer that will be built in Flight III configuration will be named after US Navy Hospitalman John E. Kilmer, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service during the Korean War.

US Navy photo

DDG 134 was named by the Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer on October 16.

“Hospitalman Kilmer was a hero whose efforts during the Korean War continue to inspire,” Spencer said. “His dedication to his teammates represents everything good about our integrated naval force.”

A medical field technician with the Fleet Marine Force, Kilmer was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor June 18, 1953. He was killed Aug. 13, 1952 as a result of enemy action while caring for the wounded during the attack on Bunker Hill. He shielded another man from enemy fire with his body and was mortally wounded.

From Kilmer’s Medal of Honor citation, “With his company engaged in defending a vitally important hill position well forward of the main line of resistance during an assault by large concentrations of hostile troops, Kilmer repeatedly braved intense enemy mortar, artillery and sniper fire to move from one position to another, administering aid to the wounded and expediting their evacuation.”

Future USS John E. Kilmer will be constructed at Bath Iron Works, a division of General Dynamics in Bath, Maine, as the 84th ship in its class.