Future Navy Destroyer Named for Virginia Beach Vietnam Hero

A U.S. Navy rendering of the future USS Jeremiah Denton.

A U.S. Navy rendering of the future USS Jeremiah Denton.

One of the Navy’s future destroyers has been named for Admiral Jeremiah Denton, a Naval Academy graduate, Vietnam veteran, and former U.S. Senator who lived in Virginia Beach.

Admiral Denton graduated from the Naval Academy in 1947 and spent his first years in the fleet in aviation as a test pilot, instructor, and squadron leader. The Navy credits Denton with developing certain operational tactics including the Haystack Concept, which aims to organize carriers so that they are more difficult for the enemy to discover.

Admiral Denton’s aircraft was shot down over North Vietnam in 1965. He spent more than seven years, nearly half in isolation, as a prisoner of war. Denton reportedly blinked out the word “torture” in Morse code during a media interview to indicate that his fellow American POWs were undergoing torture. The Navy says that despite horrendous treatment, Admiral Denton never provided military information to the enemy.

Denton was freed in 1973 and retired from naval service in 1977. For his heroic actions as a POW, Admiral Denton received the Navy Cross. He was elected to the U.S. Senate, representing Alabama, in 1980.

Denton passed away in Virginia Beach in 2014.

Retired Rear Admiral Denton, during the National POW/MIA Recognition Day Ceremony at the Pentagon in 2009. Photo: DOD/Cherie Cullen

Retired Rear Admiral Denton, during the National POW/MIA Recognition Day Ceremony at the Pentagon in 2009. Photo: DOD/Cherie Cullen

Richard V. Spencer, Secretary of the Navy, says the future USS Jeremiah Denton will be a tribute to the admiral’s legacy:

“His heroic actions during a defining period in our history have left an indelible mark on our Navy and Marine Corps team and our nation. His service is a shining example for our Sailors and Marines and this ship will continue his legacy for decades to come.”

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, known as DDG 129, will be able to fight surface, subsurface, and air battles simultaneously. According to the Navy, the vessel will also have multiple weapon systems “designed to support maritime warfare, including integrated air and missile defense and vertical launch capabilities.”

The ship, which will be constructed at Huntington Ingalls in Pascagoula, Mississippi, will measure more than 500 feet in length with a beam of almost 60 feet. She will be able to operate at more than 30 knots.

-Laura Adams Boycourt

Laura Boycourt