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Quick Fact Friday 2019-03-08
Posted on Mar 8th, 2019

The Laffey, a United States Navy destroyer, was commissioned in early 1944, in time to provide gun support for the D-Day Landings.  On June 6, 1944, she was off Utah Beach, Baie de la Seine.  Later in that month, while attacking Nazi positions at Cherbourg on June 25, she was struck by a shell that did not explode.   Transiting the Panama Canal she joined the Pacific fleet and participated in the invasions of the Philippines, and Iwo Jima and Okinawa in Japan.  Posted as a radar picket ship off Okinawa in April 1945, she received crippling damage from 4 Japanese bombs, six kamikaze crashes, and repeated strafing fire that killed 32 and wounded 71.  Crippled but unbeaten, she was repaired and rejoined the Pacific war.  Before her first decommissioning on June 30, 1947, she participated in Operation Crossroads, the Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests in the Marshall Islands.  During the Korean War she was re-commissioned, and helped enforce a naval blockade of the east coast of the Korean peninsula, engaging in gun duels with enemy forces at Wonsan.  In the Suez crisis of 1956, she patrolled the Israeli-Egyptian border.  Until she was again decommissioned and stricken on March 9, 1975, she patrolled the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic during the Cold War.  She is the last of the Sumner class destroyers.  In 1981, she joined the Patriots Point fleet, and in 1986, she won well deserved designation as a National Historic Landmark.
The Laffey is the second ship in the U.S.Navy named for Seaman Bartlett Laffey, a native of Ireland who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroic service at Yazoo City, Mississippi, in the Civil War.  It is fitting that his namesake rests moored beside the Medal of Honor Museum.  
Image credit:  U.S. Navy - Official U.S. Navy photograph USN 1100870 from the U.S. Navy website A Brief History of U.S. Navy Destroyers, Part II -- World War II (1941-1943)
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