NAVSEA Wire Service 00-04 (March 15, 2000)

MAR15-01. SENAV names destroyer to honor WWII African American Hero.
By DoD Public Affairs

    Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig announced on Feb. 29, 2000, his decision to name the 41st ship of the Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer "Pinckney."

    Pinckney (DDG 91) will honor Navy Cook Third Class William Pinckney, (1915-1975), recipient of the Navy Cross for his courageous rescue of a fellow crewmember onboard USS Enterprise (CV 6) during the Battle of Santa Cruz. When an explosion killed four of the six men at his battle station in an ammunition handling room, Pinckney and the other surviving Sailor attempted to exit through a hatch to the hangar deck above. When the other man grasped the scorching hatch, he fell back unconscious. Despite the suffocating smoke, flames, and gasoline fumes surrounding him, Pinckney carried the Sailor to safety. For his selfless heroism, Pinckney was awarded the Navy Cross.

    Pinckney was a third class officer's cook in part because during his lifetime opportunities were limited for African American Sailors. Pinckney demonstrated extraordinary heroism despite the discrimination he and other black Sailors lived with on a daily basis.

    Danzig remarked, "He embodied the Navy's value of selfless service, at a time when the institution under-valued black servicemembers. His willingness to give so much, and sacrifice for an institution which gave him so little, makes these acts for which he earned the Navy Cross that much more heroic."

    "The destroyer, DDG 91, will embody the name of William Pinckney very well. Like Pinckney, its relatively small size belies the tremendous feats that it will accomplish. Like Pinckney, the ship will be an individual force, often standing proudly alone for the nation - yet it is also part of an unbeatable team. And as a warship, USS Pinckney will be an ambassador for American ideals that William Pinckney, through his single act of bravery, helped to strengthen as part of the American experience," said Danzig.

    Former Chief of Naval Operations, the late Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, said in the early 1970s, "There is no black Navy, no white Navy - just one Navy - the United States Navy." There will soon be another United States Ship to solidify those words: USS Pinckney (DDG 91).