ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy’s 13th San Antonio-class amphibious dock ship (LPD) will be named for a naval officer who was awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry during a kamikaze attack during the 1945 Okinawa campaign.
Speaking May 2 to reporters at the Pentagon, Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer said the next LPD would be named for Capt. Richard M. McCool Jr., the former commanding officer of a landing craft support ship, large, Mark 3, that went to the aid of the crew of a sinking destroyer, USS William D. Porter, and then came under attack itself, but saved his ship despite being wounded and knocked temporarily unconscious.
Below is the text of the official citation for the Medal of Honor presented to then-Lt. McCool by President Harry S. Truman on Dec. 18, 1945:
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. LCS 122, during operations against enemy Japanese forces in the Ryukyu Chain, 10 and 11 June 1945. Sharply vigilant during hostile air raids against Allied ships on radar picket duty off Okinawa on 10 June, Lieutenant McCool aided materially in evacuating all survivors from a sinking destroyer which had sustained mortal damage under the devastating attacks. When his own craft was attacked simultaneously by two of the enemy’s suicide squadron early in the evening of 11 June, he instantly hurled the full power of his gun batteries against the plunging aircraft, shooting down the first and damaging the second before it crashed his station in the conning tower and engulfed the immediate area in a mass of flames. Although suffering from shrapnel wounds and painful burns, he rallied his concussion-shocked crew and initiated vigorous fire-fighting measures and then proceeded to the rescue of several trapped in a blazing compartment, subsequently carrying one man to safety despite the excruciating pain of additional severe burns. Unmindful of all personal danger, he continued his efforts without respite until aid arrived from other ships and he was evacuated. By his staunch leadership, capable direction and indomitable determination throughout the crisis, Lieutenant McCool saved the lives of many who otherwise might have perished and contributed materially to the saving of his ship for further combat service. His valiant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of extreme peril sustains and enhances the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”
McCool, an Oklahoma native, served in the Korean and Vietnam wars as well, retiring with the rank of captain. He died in 2008.
Spencer broke the tradition of naming LPDs for cities and counties in the United States by naming the ship after a naval hero.
LPD 29 will be built by Huntington Ingalls’ shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, under a $1.4 billion contract awarded in February.