Charleston, S.C. (WCIV) — Almost exactly 50 years ago, Ralph Johnson, a Charleston native, threw himself on a grenade during a mission in Vietnam to save his fellow Marines.
He died instantly.
On April 20, 1970, President Richard Nixon presented the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest honor, to the Johnson family.
His name lives on with a new naval destroyer, the USS Ralph Johnson, which officially arrived in Charleston and will be commissioned into service Saturday in a fitting tribute in Johnson's hometown.
On Monday, family members were able see the ship for the very first time.
There were tears, hugs and lots of memories. Hundreds of sailors on deck were given a warm welcome as the warship moved into port.
WATCH BELOW: USS Ralph Johnson arrives in Charleston
The Columbus Street terminal was briefly closed to the public so the Johnson family could share a private moment and reflect on his life.
The ship will remain at the Columbus Street terminal until the commissioning ceremony on Saturday, March 24.
After its welcome into service, the warship's home port will be in Everett, Washington.
READ MORE | Exclusive tour of future USS Ralph Johnson ahead of commissioning ceremony