A ship named after Macon’s only Medal of Honor recipient has sailed its final voyage for the Navy.
The USS Rodney M. Davis will be officially decommissioned March 31, but the ceremony will be held Jan. 23.
On Dec. 19 the ship returned from its final deployment, a six-month cruise in the Pacific, to its homeport Naval Station Everett in Everett, Washington.
Sgt. Rodney Davis was a Marine from Macon who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Vietnam. During an intense firefight, he dove on a grenade to save the lives of those around him.
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Petty Officer 1st Class Bobby Boyles, a personnel officer on the ship, said every one of the ship’s 200 or so crew members knows the ship’s connection to Macon.
“They could tell you everything about him,” Boyles said. “One of the questions when we first check on board is do we know the story behind Sgt. Davis and why the ship is named after him. That he gave his life defending our country is a big part of the history of the ship.”
Crew members held a ceremony each year recognizing Davis’ birthday, which included a reading of his Medal of Honor citation. Last year, while the ship was in San Diego, some Marines who served with Davis spoke to the crew.
The fate of the ship is uncertain. It could be scrapped, but Boyles said there is a strong possibility it could be sold to another country. If that happens, it wouldn’t keep the name.
Often when the Navy retires a ship, it will give a new ship the same name, but Boyles said that isn’t likely to happen in this case.
At least one crew member has visited Davis’ grave at Linwood Cemetery in Macon. Seaman Recruit Cole Walker is from Ludowici, and he visited the grave after a group of Marines led a drive to erect a new monument there.
He said serving on a ship named after someone who committed such a selfless act is meaningful to him.
“It shows the distance some people have had to go to protect this country,” Walker said.
The ship is an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate that was commissioned in 1987. In 2001 it was involved in the largest cocaine seizure in maritime history when a Coast Guard crew assigned to the ship boarded a fishing vessel and found 13 tons of cocaine.
The decommissioning is part of the Navy’s plan to retire all frigates from the fleet, according to the Military Times. Most of them are expected to be sold to foreign governments.