USS Chung-Hoon flies battle flag on return to Pearl Harbor

Less than a month after running afoul of a Chinese warship in the Taiwan Strait, the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Chung-Hoon pulled into port with its battle flag flying high.

The Chung-Hoon — named for the legendary late Rear Adm. Gordon Paiʻea Chung-Hoon, a Navy Cross and Silver Star recipient and the Navy’s first Asian-American flag officer — arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on June 21 with its distinctive bright blue battle flag flapping from its mast.

The USS Chung-Hoon’s crest. (U.S. Navy)

While the details of the battle flag are hard to make out in photos of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, it consists of the ship’s crest of Hawaiian warrior helmet and anchor wrapped in palm wreaths against a light blue background, the details of which are available on the Navy’s informational page on the ship.

The helmet is meant as a reference to Chung-Hoon’s birthplace of Hawaii and “emphasizes the fighting spirit” of the ship, according to the Navy, while the anchor is meant to commemorate Chung-Hoon’s distinguished Navy career.

Meanwhile, the palm wreaths “symbolize victory and the triumph of the human spirit,” and emblazoned under the ship’s crest is the ship’s motto of ‘Imua e na Koa Kai,’ which translates from Hawaiian to ‘Go Forward Sea Warriors.’

USS Chung-Hoon RIMPAC 2020
The guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) conducts a Mk 45 five-inch gun live fire during Rim of the Pacific 2020. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Devin M. Langer)

The battle flag’s emphasis on the Chung-Hoon’s namesake is deeply appropriate given the late rear admiral’s legacy. As commander of the destroyer USS Sigsbee in the Pacific during World War II, Chung-Hoon received the Navy Cross and Silver Star for “conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary heroism” during a kamikaze attack on his vessel, during which Chung-Hoon maintained “prolonged and effective fire” on incoming Japanese aircraft to provide a screen to a U.S. aircraft carrier strike force despite extensive damage to his own vessel.

The Chung-Hoon’s battle flag has been featured in many past photos of the destroyer in action over the last several years. Indeed, the flag was flying proudly during the destroyer’s most recent travels in the South China Sea alongside the Canadian frigate HMCS Montreal which precipitated its run-in with a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy vessel in early June.

While the incident with China didn’t result in anything more than some heightened heart rates on both sides of the Pacific, it’s certainly a testament to that “fighting spirit” embodied in the Chung-Hoon’s battle flag.

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