DDG 130 William Charette
Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer has named a future Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, DDG 130, in honor of Medal of Honor recipient, Master Chief Hospital Corpsman William Charette. Charette, a native of Ludington, Michigan, joined the Navy in 1951 and served in the Korean War in the Fleet Marine Force (FMF) as a hospital corpsman attached to Company F, Third Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.
“The actions of Hospital Corpsman William Charette will neither be forgotten or diminished,” Spencer said. “Charette put himself at extreme risk during intense combat to render aid to Marines in need. His efforts saved lives and I am honored that his legacy will live on in the future USS William Charette (DDG 130).”
Charette was presented the Medal of Honor for his actions on March 27, 1953, when , the 5th Marines were fighting in Korea to regain Vegas Hill and needed reinforcements. Hospital Corpsman Third Class William Charette’s company moved to the front to help them. At noon, the bitter battle to regain Vegas Hill began. Stubborn enemy resistance prevented the Marines from taking much ground. The lead company had moved further up the hill, but it was taking heavy casualties. Charette took the risk of moving forward to help their overworked corpsmen, defying bullets and exploding grenades all around him.
The Chinese fanatically defended the hill, putting the attackers under constant fire. While Charette worked on a casualty, grenades kept rolling down the hill. One of them landed right next to him and the wounded Marine. He tried to push away the grenade with his medical kit and covered his patient with his body, waiting for the explosion, because he knew this badly wounded man would not survive another injury. The grenade exploded and drove shrapnel deep into Charette’s face, but his patient was saved.
Citation: “Through his indomitable courage and inspiring efforts in behalf of his wounded comrades, he was directly responsible for saving many lives.”
All five enlisted Sailors who received the Medal of Honor for actions during the Korean War were Navy hospital corpsmen attached to the Marine Corps. Charette was the only living recipient. On Aug. 3, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill to select and pay tribute to the unknowns of World War II and Korea. The selection ceremonies and the interment of these unknowns took place in 1958. The World War II Unknown was selected from remains exhumed from cemeteries in Europe, Africa, Hawaii and the Philippines.
Two unknowns from World War II, one from the European Theater and one from the Pacific Theater, were placed in identical caskets and taken aboard the USS Canberra, a guided-missile cruiser resting off the Virginia capes. Navy Hospitalman 1st Class William R. Charette, then the Navy's only active-duty Medal of Honor recipient, selected the Unknown Soldier of World War II. The remaining casket received a solemn burial at sea.
Charette died on March 18, 2012, due to complications from heart surgery.
Arleigh-Burke class destroyers conduct a variety of operations from peacetime presence and crisis response to sea control and power projection. The future USS William Charette (DDG 130) will be a Flight III destroyer, capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously, and 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.
The ship will be constructed at Bath Iron Works, a division of General Dynamics in Bath, Maine. The ship will be 509 feet long, have a beam length of 59 feet and be capable of operating at speeds in excess of 30 knots.
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