Solomon Atkinson, an esteemed Alaska Native and one of the original 60 Navy SEALs, will be commemorated as the USNS Solomon Atkinson, set to launch in 2025. This Navajo-class Towing, Salvage, and Rescue ship is among a series named after distinguished Native American sailors. Atkinson, who passed away in 2019, had an illustrious 22-year career in the Navy, serving in Korea and Vietnam, and also training astronauts like Neil Armstrong. Following his retirement in 1973, he became a key figure in his Alaskan hometown of Metlakatla.
- Solomon Atkinson was one of the first 60 Navy SEALs and was significant in shaping the SEALs from beach scouts to esteemed commando teams.
- Beyond his SEAL career, Atkinson trained astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Jim Lovell, for space missions by simulating weightless environments.
- Atkinson returned to his hometown of Metlakatla after retiring from the Navy, where he served as a community leader, veteran’s advocate, and even mayor.
- His funeral in Metlakatla featured a unique farewell, with SEAL Team 1 pallbearers and a boat parade in his honor.
- The USNS Solomon Atkinson is the 12th Navajo-class ship and is named to honor both Atkinson’s legacy and the significant contributions of Native American sailors to the Navy.