The Navy will name its next America-class amphibious assault ship the USS Helmand Province in tribute to the heavy fighting faced by Marines and Sailors in the region over the 20 years of the Afghanistan war. Left, U.S. Marines with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6 conduct a security patrol in Gorazan Valley, Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 17, 2012. Photo by Cpl. Andrew Good.

Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro announced on Thursday that a future amphibious assault ship will be named USS Helmand Province where 366 Marines were killed by hostile fire and nearly 5,000 more were wounded during the Afghanistan War.

“In keeping with naval tradition of naming our Navy’s amphibious assault ships after U.S. Marine Corps battles, I am honored to announce today that the future LHA-10 will be named USS Helmand Province, recognizing the bravery and sacrifice of our Marines and Sailors who fought for almost 20 years in the mountains of Afghanistan,” Del Toro said during this year’s annual Modern Day Marine exposition.

The move comes after Del Toro announced in 2021 that another America-class amphibious assault ship would be named USS Fallujah, the site of two major battles in the Iraq War in 2004.

Del Toro’s announcement about the USS Helmand Province provides further proof that the Global War on Terrorism has become an enduring chapter of the Marine Corps’ legacy, along with World War II, Vietnam, and other conflicts.

The Marines first arrived in Helmand Province in November 2001. Over the next two decades, Marines would battle the Taliban at Garmser, Sangin, Marjah, and other places in the province, often at great sacrifice.

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“Helmand Province holds a unique place in the hearts of Marines of this generation,” Marine Corps Commandant Eric Smith said on Thursday at Modern Day Marine. “Many of us have spent months or years there. Many of our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and kids, have sent their Marines and Corpsmen there to go fight.”

From 2009 to 2014, Helmand Province was the center of Marine operations in Afghanistan, Smith said. At the height of the campaign, more than 19,000 sailors and Marines were deployed to the region, which featured rugged terrain and served as the heart of the opium trade.

“It was there that yet another generation of warriors added to the storied history of our Corps,” Smith said. “Marines like Cpl. Kyle Carpenter, who used his own body to shield his Marine brothers from a grenade blast on the 21st of November, 2010, in a small village in Marjah. And Sgt. Christopher Farias, who refused treatment for his own wounds when his patrol base was ambushed in Kajaki in 2010.  Instead – with fragmentation from a 73 mm recoilless rifle in his neck and shoulder – he climbed onto a rooftop where he coordinated his Marines’ fire and maneuver to repel the assault.”

Other Marines gave their lives in Helmand so that others might live, such as Capt. Matt Manoukian and Staff Sgt. Sky Mote, who drew fire on themselves during an insider attack, allowing their fellow Marines to escape, Smith said.

Another Marine who died to save others is Lance Cpl. Donald Hogan, who used his body to shield the nearest Marine from a bomb blast and then remained inside the kill zone to warn the rest of his squad, Smith recalled.

“To the families of the fallen, know that your loved ones are forever honored in our memory – and now, through the naming of LHA-10 as the USS Helmand Province,” Smith said. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten, and their legacy will endure through the generations of Marines that follow.”

“To those who served in Helmand and to all Marines past and present: thank you,” Smith continued. “Thank you for your service, your bravery, and your unwavering commitment to our Corps and our country.”

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