Navy christens USNS Mendonca DOD Public Affairs Navnews 14 April 1999 WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy christened its newest roll-on/roll-off cargo ship USNS Mendonca (T-AKR 303) April 10 at Avondale Industries Inc., in New Orleans. The ship is named to honor Army Sgt. Leroy A. Mendonca (1932-1951) who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for defending a newly-won, vital hilltop position against an assault by a large hostile force near Chick-on, Korea, July4, 1951. During a nighttime attack, when his platoon was outflanked and subsequently ordered to withdraw, Mendonca voluntarily remained in an exposed position to cover the movement. Although under heavy fire, he held the on-rushing enemy at bay with a rifle and grenades until his ammunition was exhausted. He fought on, using his rifle butt and bayonet, until he was mortally wounded. It is estimated that Mendonca accounted for 37 enemy casualties. He enabled the platoon to assume a defensive position from which they repelled the enemy attack and maintained possession of thehill. The fourth in the Bob Hope-class of large, medium- speed, roll-on/roll-off ships, USNS Mendonca is a non- combatant vessel, crewed by civilian mariners and operated by the Military Sealift Command. Its roll- on/roll-off design makes it ideal for transporting helicopters, tanks, and other wheeled and tracked military vehicles. The ship will have approximately 390,000 square feet of cargo-carrying space.-USN-