PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - It was a day of honor and celebration as Ingalls Shipbuilding marked a major milestone.
The Navy's newest guided missile destroyer, that the state's largest private employer is building, was christened today. The ship is named after the first U.S. World War II Medal of Honor recipient.
"It doesn't matter how many times I see these ships grow from steel plates until the great ships you see here today, I still believe it is an absolute modern marvel," said Congressman Steven Palazzo.
The guided missile destroyer is nearly two football fields long and fully loaded with the latest weapons and warfare systems.
"These ships are not cheap; they are tremendously sophisticated weapon systems and serve perfectly as insurance policy that make our adversaries think twice before they do something stupid," said Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems.
The Navy vessel honors a great American hero, Lt. John Finn. He received the highest military honor for his heroic actions during the attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II.
"He was out there in the open with a .50 caliber machine gun, firing at the Japanese planes that were bombing Pearl Harbor. He was wounded, if I remember correctly, 22 times and he didn't let that stop him," Navy Veteran Cass Phillips said.
Pearl Harbor Survivor and veteran Cass Phillips was a friend of the late Lt. Finn. He says knowing this ship will bear his name is bitter-sweet.
"I happy that is happening for him. In my opinion, men of his type caliber who have gotten the Congressional Medal of Honor, who have acted in brave and patriotic way that he did should get these things before they die," Phillips said.
Friends and family hope the future crew of the ship will carry on Finn's courageous spirit and legacy of leadership.
"I have no doubt he will be watching and that you will make him proud," Aucoin said.
Lt. Finn served 30 years in the Navy. He died in 2010 at the age of 100.