The US will name a Navy ship after gay-rights activist Harvey Milk

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US Navy portrait of then Ensign Harvey Milk.
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US Navy

The US Naval Institute’s news service has obtained a congressional memo stating that the US Navy will name a Military Sealift Command fleet oiler after gay-rights activist Harvey Milk.

According to the Naval Institute, Milk came from a Navy family, joined in 1951, served as a diving officer during the Korean War, and later received an honorable discharge as a lieutenant junior grade.

After his stint in the Navy, Milk continued his public service by becoming the first openly gay elected official in California in 1977. He was assassinated a year later by another city official. At the time of his death, he was wearing his Navy diving belt buckle.

Actor Sean Penn won an Oscar for his portrayal of Milk in a 2008 film.

Other civil-rights leaders such as Medgar Evers and Cesar Chavez have had Navy ships named after them as well.

The USNS Harvey Milk will be the second oiler of its class built by General Dynamics in San Diego. Oiler ships serve as support ships to other Navy vessels by replenishing them with fuel and sometimes food, ammunition, mail, and other goods while at sea.