US Warship Commissioned in Honor of Armenian-American, Paul Ignatius

A saluting battery from Navy Station Norfolk renders honors during the commissioning ceremony for the guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Ignatius. Port Everglades, Fla., July 27, 2019 (Photo: U.S. Navy Chief Intelligence Specialist Alexandria Fogel)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.—The United States Navy has commissioned its newest, state-of-the-art destroyer—the USS Paul Ignatius (DDG 117), named after the esteemed Armenian-American World War II veteran and the 59th Secretary of the Navy under President Lyndon Johnson, Paul Robert Ignatius.

Draped in red, white and blue bunting under a summer sky at Port Everglades on Saturday morning, the USS Paul Ignatius served as a stage before thousands of people for the time-honored Naval tradition of bringing a ship to life while celebrating Ignatius’ service to his country. 

“This is a major undertaking,” said Ignatius, as he marveled at the sophisticated upgrades from yore. “Today’s sailors, today’s chiefs, today’s naval personnel are skilled technicians. It isn’t like the old days of the navy when you sat around, chipping paint. Each of these men and women who man this ship are highly skilled experts in extremely complex systems to assure our safety, to assure victory in case of combat.”

The USS Paul Ignatius is the 67th ship of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. Navy officials explain that the warship can sail up to 30 knots at sea and is armed with advanced RADAR and SONAR systems that enable the ship to engage targets in the air, on the sea and underwater. “This ship…was designed to prevent war,” said Rear Admiral William Galinis. “But if it does come to a fight…this ship…was also designed and built to ensure that it is an unfair fight.”

The USS Paul Ignatius was christened in Pascagoula, Mississippi in April 2017 by the ship’s sponsor, the late Nancy Ignatius, who passed away earlier this year. “I was so pleased that my wife Nancy was chosen as the sponsor of this ship. I’m pleased that she was able to swing the champagne bottle at the christening,” said Ignatius. “I wish she could have been with us today, but she’s here in spirit.”

Ship’s sponsor Nancy Ignatius christens the guided-missile destroyer named for her husband, former Secretary of the Navy Paul Ignatius, April 8, 2017, Pascagoula, Miss. (Photo Credit: Andrew Young/Navy via Huntington Ingalls Industries)

Together, Secretary Ignatius and his wife had four children: David, a Washington Post columnist; Adi, editor-in-chief at Harvard Business Review; Amy, a Superior Court judge in New Hampshire; and Sarah, executive director of the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), who told the Armenian Weekly, “I am extremely proud of my father for this tremendous honor. He has lived a life of integrity and service to this country with dedication and humility and still hasn’t slowed down at age 98.” The son of Armenian immigrants, Secretary Ignatius is the highest-ranking Armenian-American military official in US history.

Former Secretary of the Navy Paul Ignatius at the commissioning ceremony for his namesake naval destroyer, USS Paul Ignatius. Port Everglades, Fla. (Photo Commander, Naval Surface Force, US Pacific Fleet)

The Ignatius’ eldest granddaughter Dr. Elisa Ignatius served as the ship sponsor representative on Saturday; she referred to her late grandmother as a humble warrior. “The spirit and memories that live on in us—her family—now rest with you, the crew of the USS Paul Ignatius and to all the crews to come. Let her rare character of dedication, humility, wonder and strength animate you and this magnificent ship.”

Then, in a rather exciting moment that signaled the commissioning crew of sailors standing at attention to break formation, Dr. Ignatius proudly exclaimed the first order, “Man our ship, and bring her to life!” Two by two, the officers jogged to their positions on the USS Paul Ignatius to thunderous applause.

The USS Paul Ignatius will be homeported in Mayport, Florida.

Leeza Arakelian

Leeza Arakelian

Assistant Editor
Leeza Arakelian is the former assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly. She is a graduate of UCLA and Emerson College. Leeza has written and produced for local and network television news including Boston 25 and Al Jazeera America.


  1. Ummmm so what?
    Did he ever acknowledge his roots and ancestry? Has he given “any” interviews to Armenian newspapers, or has he ever talked about how his parents escaped the Genocide? Has he been to Armenia?
    The answer to all these questions is NO.
    So, what good is it to be Armenian if you NEVER acknowledges your “Armenianness?”
    Oftentimes, we are proud of some Armenians, who have done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for Armenia and Armenians.

    • Did you read the article in full? One of his daughters is executive director of the National Association for Armenian Studies. This is impressive considering he married a Jewish woman. Since the daughter is involved with Armenians, this means Mr. Ignatius made sure his children know their half roots, which means he himself acknowledged to be Armenian.

      What have YOU done, your majesty, besides the most stereotypical Armenian thing- complaining about the trivial matters.

    • “Preston,” no doubt you are a Truly Great Armenian yourself but you are also a complete idiot, or a troll, or both. Paul Ignatius has written two memoirs as well as a book about Armenian-American writers. After you read them, then you can answer your own stupid questions. Although I have serious doubts that you will ever read three books, let alone these three, at all, ever.

    • STAN:
      OK, my apologies, I stand corrected.
      You did not need to call me names.
      You showed your immaturity and utmost stupidity.
      I am a full-blooded (97% Armenian and 3% European) Armenian.
      Some of you are surprised that I carry “Bagrationi” as my surname.
      Remember all of the following names mentioned below belong to the SAME EXACT Armenian
      Nakharar family, the Pakradunis.
      – Bagrationi
      – Pakraduni
      – Pakradian
      – Bagrat
      – Pakradunian
      God bless Armenia.

    • Dear Preston, ariunyeghpayrs, good of you to apologize, so let’s make a deal: I (and I am sure others) will refrain from calling you names if you refrain from posting insulting and uninformed comments. Sound good? Oh, and by the way, they’ve got this thing now called “Google.” If you had taken 30 seconds to search “Paul Ignatius” and “Armenian” then we would have been spared your remarks and you would have been spared my immature insults and we could all have spent our time getting agitated about something else or had an early dinner.

      Incidentally, there’s no such thing as Armenian blood. There’s just blood, brother, just blood. God bless Armenia, indeed, and heaven help us all.

  2. Preston…..with due respect….your comments make no sense. Paul Ignatius is a remarkable human being and a wonderful Armenian American. As others have pointed out , he has made many contributions to our greater community through literature and his public presence. He has always been very proud of his Armenian heritage. It is my honor to know him. Read the article and you will gain valuable and needed insight into this superb person. The family he and his wife raised are incredible in their own right. Son David will soon serve as the Master of Ceremonies for the NAASR Gala Banquet to celebrate the new building opening. His daughter ,Sarah is the outstanding and talented Executive Director of NAASR. We are lucky to have Armenian American such as Paul Ignatius. I remember as a teen reading about him in the Armenian papers and the sense of pride that a Secretary of the Navy was Armenian. Simply knowing that as a young person was a great source of inspiration. I suggest you read up on this great man.

  3. “there’s no such thing as Armenian blood”

    Why would anyone say a thing like that?

    There most certainly *is* such a thing as ‘Armenian Blood’, since the meaning to that is the Armenian Bloodline aka the Armenian Race aka Armenian Genes.

    Just like every other people, the Armenian Bloodline may not be “pure” in the scientific sense, but it most definitely is distinguishable and has largely been unaltered for the past several thousand years.

    • Baron Hagop, there are indeed recognizable genetic makeups that are prevalent among Armenians. An interesting topic. Unfortunately if often turns into a discussion of an imaginary Armenian “race” or Armenian “blood,” or boasting about what percentage of someone’s “blood” is “Armenian.” There hasn’t been anything good yet that has come of that kind of craziness.

      Anyway none of this has anything to do with Mr. Paul Ignatius, a great American and a great Armenian and a great human being.

  4. Re: Paul Ignatius, I stand corrected.
    However, we are inflicted by this disease called “let’s cajole, kowtow or flatter” anyone who was born in an Armenian family.
    Let me give you one example:
    We all know about Andre Aghassi, American Armenian who I think is proud of his ancestry. However, ever since Armenia gained independence, Aghassi has done absolutely NOTHING to help Armenia. He has opened and invested $30 million opening tennis schools for underprivileged kids in the United States but has “stil” to open one small tennis schools for thousands of underprivileged kids in Armenia.
    Think about it for just a minute, don’t jump accusing me of being “accusatory” towards
    Armenians who sit in their mansions, help others and forsake their own people.
    Yes, we had several Byzantine emperors and empresses, philanthropists, educators, scientist and astronauts, politicians and inventors, yet 99% of these so-called Armenians have done absolutely NOTHING to alleviate the pain and suffering our people go through DAILY in Armenia.
    That’s all.
    God bless our small and friendless Armenia.
    United we stand, divided we fall.

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