Despite the country’s respect for former Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, not everyone in the military community was thrilled with Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ Friday announcement that the Navy’s new Independence variant littoral combat ship (LCS) will be named for her.
“The Navy motto is Semper Fortis, Always Courageous,” said Mabus during the Friday ceremony with Giffords, who was shot last year during an assassination attempt in Tucson.
“Unwavering courage has defined the Navy for 236 years and it is what we expect, what we demand of our sailors every single day,” said Mabus. “So it’s very appropriate that LCS 10 be named for someone who has become synonymous with courage, who has inspired the nation with remarkable resiliency and showed the possibilities of the human spirit.”
According to a number of former and current military members, however, the decision to name the LCS after Giffords was not, in fact, “very appropriate.”
Retired Rear Admiral George Worthington, former commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command, told The Daily Caller that there are many people more worthy of a ship bearing their name.
“Here is the issue. There are a lot of dead Marines out there whose names could go on anything that appears to be an amphibious ship,” he said, explaining that a past recipient of the Medal of Honor, Dakota Meyer, might be a good candidate.
Worthington added his email “inbox” has been filled with messages from military friends who are “shocked and angered” by the decision. (RELATED: More stories on Gabrielle Giffords)
“We think fallen Marines and perhaps supporting sailors should go on fantails before random victims,” he said.
Former U.S. Naval Institute CEO, retired Marine Maj. Gen. Tom Wilkerson, expressed disappointment at the recent evolution of ship dedication.
“If you were to look at one thing that has changed with Secretary Mabus it has been going from naming warships to honor people who have served or are intimately connected to the sea services to reaching into a more political environment and doing things almost on a feel-good basis,” he said, noting his dismay at recent decisions to name ships after Cesar Chavez and former Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha.
Wilkerson went on to say that what happened to Giffords was a tragedy, but that she was neither a service hero nor a major supporter/sponsor of the sea services and their contributions to national security.
“It is a very clear statement that naming warships has become more politicized than at anytime in our past,” he said, “perhaps an effort on the part of the Navy Department leadership to gain more public support.”
“Why do we name a ship?” Wilkerson rhetorically asked. “In large part it is to inspire those who will serve over time in ships company and to make them feel that they are serving in a part of American history that has direct positive impact and inspires them to do their best.”