First U.S. Navy ship named in honor of Sergeant First Class Rodney James Takahashi Yano who was a U. S. Army soldier killed in action during the Vietnam War and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions near Bien Hoa, Vietnam on 1 January 1969.
Rodney James Takahashi Yano was born on 13 December 1943 in Kealakekua, Kona district, Hawaii. He later left high school before graduating, enlisted in the Army from Honolulu in 1961 and served in the field of helicopter maintenance. After deploying to Vietnam, Yano was assigned to the Air Cavalry Troop, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.
On 1 January 1969, Yano, who was normally a technical inspector, volunteered to act as a helicopter crew chief and door gunner on a combat mission against enemy forces entrenched in dense jungle. From an exposed position and facing intense small arms and antiaircraft fire, he delivered suppressive fire upon the enemy forces and marked their positions with smoke and white phosphorus grenades so that accurate and effective artillery fire could be directed against the hostile emplacements.
During the fire-fight, a grenade exploded prematurely inside the aircraft, covered him with burning phosphorus and left him severely wounded. Flaming fragments within the helicopter then caused supplies and ammunition to detonate. Dense white smoke filled the aircraft obscuring the pilot's vision and causing him to lose control. Although having the use of only one arm and being partially blinded by the initial explosion, Yano began hurling blazing ammunition from the helicopter. In so doing he inflicted additional wounds upon himself, but he persisted until the danger was past. As a result, he received additional wounds which led to his death later that day. His actions enabled the crew to regain control of the aircraft, fly to an evacuation hospital and land safely. Yano’s actions saved the lives of the others on board the helicopter.
Rodney James Takahashi Yano is interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.
(T-AKR-297: displacement 32,589; length 909'; beam 106'; draft 35'; speed 24 knots; complement 30 civilian and 5 active duty; class Shughart)
Built as the Danish Leise Maersk in 1980; the ship was assigned to the Military Sealift Command (MSC) as Yano (T-AKR-297) on 8 February 1997. She was converted at National Steel & Shipbuilding Company., San Diego, Calif.; and entered non-commissioned U.S. Navy service with MSC with a primarily civilian crew. A non-combatant Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-on/Roll-off (LMSR) vessel, Yano and other ships of her class are used to pre-position tanks, trucks, various wheeled vehicles and supplies needed to support an army heavy brigade. She is assigned to the Atlantic surge force and is maintained in Ready Operational Status 4 (ROS-4) at Newport News, Va.
On 25 February 1996, Yano broke her mooring lines at San Diego, Calif. and collided with Vandegrift (FFG-48). The frigate suffered significant hull damage as a result.
Detailed history pending.
Paul J. Marcello
14 January 2016