Navy ship named for for­mer law­maker

Demo­crat hon­ored for her per­se­ver­ance af­ter shoot­ing in Arizona.

Los Angeles Times - - THE NATION -

HOUS­TON — The Navy’s new­est com­bat ship, named af­ter for­mer Arizona con­gress­woman Gabrielle Gif­fords, was put into ac­tive ser­vice af­ter a com­mis­sion­ing cer­e­mony Sat­ur­day.

Gif­fords, who was in­jured in a 2011 shoot­ing, told a crowd at the cer­e­mony in the Texas Gulf Coast city of Galve­ston that she was hon­ored the 421-foot ship would carry her name, and that the ves­sel is “strong and tough, just like her crew.”

“I thought of you in my dark­est days, the sol­diers, sailors, air­men and Marines of the United States of Amer­ica .... You make me proud. You make Amer­ica proud,” the Demo­crat said as she stood next to her hus­band, for­mer as­tro­naut Mark Kelly, who also served in the Navy. Kelly lived in Galve­ston County when he was sta­tioned at John­son Space Cen­ter in sub­ur­ban Hous­ton.

Speak­ers in­clud­ing for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton said Gif­fords’ strength and courage made her wor­thy of be­ing the name­sake of the ship.

“Noth­ing gives me greater joy and honor than see­ing this great ship named for some­one whose strength and re­silience is a great les­son to us all,” Clin­ton said.

Oth­ers who at­tended the cer­e­mony in­cluded House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den and his wife, Jill Bi­den, who served as the ship’s spon­sor.

The Navy has said it named the ship af­ter Gif­fords be­cause of the per­se­ver­ance she showed af­ter the shoot­ing.

Gif­fords was shot in the head at a meet-and-greet event out­side a gro­cery store in Tuc­son, Ariz., in 2011. Six peo­ple died and Gif­fords was among 13 in­jured. The killer, Jared Lough­ner, was sen­tenced to life in prison. Gif­fords has a lan­guage dis­or­der and is par­tially par­a­lyzed from the shoot­ing.

Gif­fords helped chris­ten the $475-mil­lion ship in 2015. It’s the ninth in a se­ries of high-speed ves­sels de­signed to nav­i­gate in shal­low coastal re­gions known as lit­toral wa­ters.

It is the 13th Navy ship named af­ter a liv­ing per­son since 1850 and the 16th ship named for a woman. It will be based in San Diego.

“I will never for­get this day or the crew of the USS Gabrielle Gif­fords,” the for­mer con­gress­woman said. “Fair winds and fol­low­ing seas.”

Brett Coomer Hous­ton Chron­i­cle

THE COM­BAT SHIP, pic­tured in Galve­ston, Texas, be­fore the cer­e­mony, is the 13th Navy ship named for a liv­ing per­son since 1850. It will be based in San Diego.

Daniel Kramer Getty Images

GABRIELLE GIF­FORDS with her hus­band, re­tired as­tro­naut and Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, at the event.

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