Teen Marine’s ‘Warrior Spirit’ Saluted at Commissioning of the USS Miguel Keith

May 11, 2021

Congressman Peters spoke at the commissioning ceremony to help welcome the USS Miguel Keith to San Diego. The ship embodies the spirit of Marine Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith and will honor his courage in battle and love of his fellow servicemembers.

Learn more about it in this May 9th piece by the Times of San Diego, posted below:

Teen Marine’s ‘Warrior Spirit’ Saluted at Commissioning of the USS Miguel Keith

May 9th, 2021

At 18, Marine Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith fought off the enemy in Vietnam, despite being wounded twice. Fifty-one years later, a U.S. Navy ship was commissioned in his honor Saturday — recognizing Keith for his bravery and love of his fellow servicemen.

“We will fight and win with the warrior spirit that would make Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith proud,” said Capt. Troy Fendrick, commanding officer of the ship delivered to the Navy on Nov. 15, 2019.

“I consider it the privilege of my lifetime to command this ship in honor of your son,” the captain told Keith’s mother, who watched the ceremony online.

“He remains a hero to all who have served, and his fighting spirit will forever be a part of this ship and to all those who sail her,” Fendrick said in front of a small crowd at North Island Naval Air Station.

The ceremony included a 19-gun salute as well as tributes to Keith and his family and speeches by military leaders.

With the motto “Always in the Fight,” the 785-foot Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB 5) can function as a floating base.

It is one of three types of the Expeditionary Transfer Dock platform providing logistics movement from sea to shore, supporting a broad range of military operations, according to the Navy. The ESB variant is designed around four core capabilities: aviation, berthing, equipment staging area, and command and control.

USS Miguel Keith will be part of the Forward Deployed Naval Force operating from Saipan.

Built in San Diego by NASSCO for $525 million, The ship has 101 military members and 44 Military Sealift Command personnel.

U.S. Rep. Scott Peters of San Diego spoke at the one-hour ceremony, pointing out Keith’s courage in battle. Sen. Dianne Feinstein spoke via the internet.

A group of family members, including two of Keith’s brothers, also attended the commissioning.

Keith was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in Vietnam for actions almost exactly one year after enlisting in the Marine Corps and one month after being promoted to lance corporal.

His Medal on Honor citation reads in part: “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a machine gunner.”

Keith fired his gun as he advanced through a hailstorm of bullets against a greatly outnumbering enemy force after being shot and then injured by a grenade attack in Quảng Ngãi Province.

Keith was born in San Antonio, Texas, and enlisted in the Marines in 1969, training at Camp Pendleton.

The ship — whose keel was laid Jan. 30, 2018 — was damaged while under construction when the General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company dry dock was accidentally flooded July 11, 2018

At the commissioning, Adm. Craig S. Faller spoke of the danger facing the ship’s crew.

China, this nation’s long-term threat, “wants to impose its version of international order,” said Faller, commander of the U.S. Southern Command. “To continue winning this global competition, we must be at the top of our game.”

“We’ve got to keep developing the best technology, the best ships like you see here today. I’m confident we will,” he said.

Faller had advice for the crew: One — never give up. Two — never doubt your ability to get the mission done. And third — be of service to something bigger than yourself.

Faller said he spoke to Keith’s mother who said love is the quality that best symbolizes her son. Faller then quoted the Bible saying there is no greater love than to lay down your life for others.

“This ship embodies his spirit,” the admiral said. “This crew will carry that spirit forward.”

The Navy plans to procure two more Expeditionary Sea Bases — the USS John L. Canley and the USS Robert E. Simanek.

The ESB USS Hershel “Woody” Williams was commissioned in San Diego in March 2020.



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