YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- The crew of the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigate USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG 60) held a ceremony Sept. 8 to pay tribute to the ship's namesake on the 47th anniversary of his passing.
Sgt. Rodney Maxwell Davis, from Macon, Georgia, was posthumously awarded the nation's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for heroism during the Vietnam War.
"We gather together on this day to honor the memory of a fallen Marine and hero who gave his life so others could live," said Chief (select) Master-at-Arms Nicholaus Berg, the event's master of ceremonies, from Willows, California.
Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Brandon Sullivan, from Bozeman, Montana, opened the ceremony with a description of Davis' youth and military service.
After graduating from Peter G. Appling High School in 1961, Davis enlisted in the Marine Corps, serving as a rifleman and guard in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and London, England. In August 1967, Davis was a platoon guide with Company B, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division. While conducting a search and clear mission in the Quang Nam province during Operation Swift, Davis and his unit were attacked by North Vietnamese forces. Despite heavy automatic fire and repeated mortar launchings, Davis encouraged each of his men to keep fighting while continuing to fire back at the enemy. When an enemy grenade landed in the trench, he threw himself upon the grenade, sacrificing his life for his fellow Marines.
Personnel Specialist 1st Class Bobby Boyles, from Elko, Nevada, then explained the meaning of the ship's crest and motto, "By valor and arms." The crest features a heraldic pelican wounding her breast to feed her young, symbolizing Sgt. Davis's selfless act of heroism.
"We should feel pride and honor every time we wear our ship's ballcap or walk across our mess decks and see his uniform and the awards he received," said Boyles.
Chief Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) Scott Mcanally, from Medford, Oregon, then read Davis' Medal of Honor citation.
The ship's Executive Officer, Cmdr Shockey Snyder, addressed the crew.
"The best way that we can honor the memory of Sgt. Davis is to be out here, operating forward in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility, conducting the nation's business on the warship that bears his name," said Snyder.
Following a moment of silence, the playing of "Taps," and the "Marines' Hymn," Cmdr. Todd Whalen, the ship's commanding officer, provided closing remarks.
"Our command philosophy is a tribute to Sgt. Rodney M. Davis. It's all about RMD - Respect your shipmates, execute the Mission, and Do your best," said Whalen. "That's exactly what Sgt. Davis did, and we honor his memory by doing the same."
Rodney M. Davis, based out of Everett, Washington, is on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
For more news from Commander Task Force 70, visit www.navy.mil/local/ctf70/.