W.E.B. The fires still raged, the stern was down due to flooded aft compartments, many guns no longer functioned and the rudder was still jammed at 26 degrees. When general quarters ended at 3 a.m., bridge quartermaster Aristides “Ari” Phoutrides, 19, crawled exhausted into his rack. Fires topside plumed black smoke. To provide early warnings of enemy aircraft, the Navy had developed new tactics: a mobile picket line of destroyers deployed 50 miles ahead of the fleet. Reaching station the next day, the Laffey was joined by two Landing Craft, Support, LCS-51 and LCS-116. LCS-116 had a dozen men killed and 12 more hurt. The draft gets a constitutional challenge, and more troops get approved to help with COVID-19 vaccinations. Sailors on board the battered ships there called it the “Bone Yard.” Among the anchored vessels, the Laffey’s unscarred metal, trim lines, and clear decks set the 2,200-ton Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer apart, as did its size and firepower. Laffey, an Allen M. SumnerÂ-class destroyer, had been screening the heavy fleet units that were bombarding Okinawa in close support of the ground forces ashore. A more immediate problem was the smoke and fumes being sucked into the engine rooms by the ventilators. The Allies attributed the initial sporadic suicide flights to crazy individual pilots. In the span of roughly an hour and a half, the Laffey was hit by four bombs and struck by as many as eight kamikazes. The aircraft cleared the 116, barrel-rolled into the water, and exploded. Commander Frederick Julian Becton, captain of the destroyer USS Laffey (DD 724), took the radio message his communications officer handed him on April 12, 1945, but the concerned look on the young officer’s face made Becton suspect that it was not good news. Communications to the bridge were disrupted, so Becton sent Ari Phoutrides aft for a firsthand assessment. At Saipan, more repair work was performed, especially on the battered fantail. The ship’s casualties totaled 32 dead and 71 wounded. Later that morning, a chaplain came aboard to conduct services for those killed or missing in action. Julian Becton, 36, and a core group of veteran officers and petty officers had overseen the commissioning, then trained a 336-man crew, mostly raw recruits. On April 16, 1945, the crewmen of the USS Laffey were battle hardened and prepared. The bomb he was carrying exploded, causing the plane to disintegrate and throwing gun captain Larry Delewski clear of danger. “Here they come!” shouted Seaman Ramon Pressburger, 21, a loader on a starboard 40mm. The explosion also knocked out the SG radar, which was needed to detect low-flying aircraft. Get it as soon as Wed, Feb 10. As the plane exploded, the gun’s trainer, Andy Stash, yelled excitedly: “We got him! Young LCS skippers like the 51’s Lt. Howell D. Chickering and the 116’s Lt. A. J. Wierzbicki had few illusions about their purpose. A litany of reports documented the destroyer’s woes: fires amidships and astern; steering control lost; a pair of red-hot aircraft engines embedded in bulkheads; two main cannons and most 40s and 20s destroyed; an incendiary shell cooking off in a head near an unexploded bomb; decks cluttered with airplane wreckage; and flaming aviation fuel pouring into compartments below decks. DD USS Laffey, radar picket, 2 x LCI as AAS pickets. Only the three fantail 20mms had a clear shot. The Corsair clipped Laffey’s air search radar, toppling the “bedspring” antenna but gaining enough altitude for the pilot to bail out. The port side 20mm and 40mm mounts were sending up a steady barrage while trying not to hit the Corsair. Some naval officials believed that defense workers had been easing off in their production efforts since V-E Day on May 8, and they had been searching for a way to remind everyone that the war was far from over. The Laffey’s April 13 stay in Wiseman’s Cove was brief. The first, angling for the starboard beam, came in low, a bull’s-eye for the Laffey’s 20mms and 40mms. Laffey relieved the destroyer-minelayer J. William Ditter (DM 31), whose skipper informed Becton by radio that during his time on station no kamikazes had entered the area, nor had any been detected by radar. On April 16, 1945, the destroyer USS Laffey (DD-724) got crashed by seven kamikaze planes [ 1] and hit by bombs dropped by two other Japanese aircraft. There was no time to rejoice over that success, however, because two more attackers, Yokosuka D4Y “Judy” dive bombers, were coming in fastâone from the starboard beam and one from the port beam. Many of the ships anchored there had been battered by kamikazes while on radar picket duty. The pointer, gunner’s mate Welles Meier, 25, stomped his foot-pedal trigger, unleashing a salvo that also connected. The 17th attacker was eliminated as he bore in from the starboard side. Naval … The whole crew was able to eat breakfast without any interruptions from the enemy. The crew’s routine was broken only when Laffey was ordered to steam a few miles east to investigate a patrol plane’s report that a downed Japanese aircraft was in the water. As Laffey prepared to depart, the skipper of Cassin Young offered some advice to Becton: “Keep moving and keep shooting. At 11 a.m., LCS-51, pumps primed, pulled the alongside the Laffey. The plane had dropped a bomb, killing one 20mm gun crew and wounding members of another nearby crew. 4.7 out of 5 stars 159. Gunner’s mate Glenn Radder, 20, watched from the forecastle as the Val dropped a bomb into the starboard 20mm mount below the bridge. Purdy had been struck by a kamikaze on April 12, killing 13 and wounding 270. [William Edward Burghardt] Du Bois, U.S. historian and civil rights leader, founder of what became the NAACP. “If you stop to get them,” a chief petty officer warned his skipper, “I’m jumping off, too!”. The bomb opened an 8-by-10-foot hole in the deck. In the brief lull that followed, assistant communications officer Lieutenant Frank Manson arrived on the bridge to report to the skipper. (U.S. Although Laffey‘s crew had encountered suicide bombers at Leyte, Mindoro, Luzon and Iwo Jima, they had never before seen so many damaged ships in one place. There was no light or ventilation and no way out, but there was a telephone that still worked, and they got through to the aft engine room. A Val dove in unopposed on the starboard bow; a strafing Judy on the port beam. Communications were knocked out in the forward engine room, but that did not present a problem for the moment. As happened with each kamikaze that rammed into Laffey, the impact spread gasoline over the adjoining area. “Here they come!”. Fortunately, the Channel was calm — no swells to flood the bow or trigger a blast. When the guns fired, Smith saw rounds splashing short. Crashing to Laffey’s signal deck, the big antenna just missed Kelly. Shrapnel struck ship’s doctor Matthew Darnell’s hand but he kept working. Seven bomb-carrying kamikaze aircraft crashed into the vessel and four bombs were dropped on it. The flammable material flooded Youngquist’s gun mounts on the superstructure deck, eight feet above the main deck, and quickly ignited, engulfing men and equipment in a conflagration. Machinist’s Mate John Michel, in the aft engine room, shut down the supply fans. After suicide attacks they would be dousing fires, moving casualties, and recovering survivors. A tally revealed 103 casualties on the destroyer, including 32 dead. Cheers went up — perhaps the worst was over. As if to prove the point, another Judy came in fast on the port beam, with a Corsair hot on its tail. “We’ll have to hold the bastards off for awhile ourselves.”. Witness what it was like for the brave men serving in the gun mount, and learn about how the LAFFEY got her nickname 'The Ship That Would Not Die.' History Channel Video Dogfights USS Laffey may be viewed onboard USS Laffey at Patriots Point. Burgess asked for a battle ensign; Kelly gave the dying man a flag. Its bomb exploded, hurling metal through the thin side hatch of mount 52. All enemy planes were shot down. by John Wukovits | Apr 5, 2016. All three 5-inch guns opened fire, and as the plane came closer, the 20mm and 40mm mounts joined in. Both plane and bomb blew, killing six of Delewski’s crew and skewing a gun barrel skyward like a dislocated finger. On Friday, May 25, 1945, Laffey moored at Pier 48 in Seattle, Washington, 39 days after its fight for survival on radar picket station No. He didn’t get far; a Corsair seemed to come out of nowhere to shoot him down several hundred yards off the starboard bow. Just as the crew was beginning to get the situation under control, two more kamikazes, both Vals, struck. The USS Laffey was in reality two great vessels with the same name--the first, DD-459, fought to the death in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in November 1942. When the Judy on the starboard side got within range of the 20mm and 40mm guns, it was torn apart by converging fire and crashed into the sea. When attacks got heaviest, several 51 sailors panicked and jumped overboard. Machinist’s Mates George Logan and Stephen Waite, who had been battling fires in the aft living spaces, became trapped when the escape hatches buckled. Before the ship’s gunners could lock on, the Judy crashed close by. When Mason finished talking, he hesitated a bit and then added: “Captain, we’re in pretty bad shape aft. On April 6 and 7, for example, 700 planes, roughly half on suicide missions, swarmed American ships, sinking five and damaging 15. Knowing that the smoke would undoubtedly attract more kamikazes, Becton reduced the ship’s speed to avoid fanning the flames. Directed by John T. Wright. About two minutes later, another Val came gliding in from astern, probably because the guns were out of commission there. Signalman Tom McCarthy saw Laffey‘s colors fall to the deck and wasted no time in remedying the situation. Communications circuits began to falter, prompting Lt. Al Henke, the Laffey’s engineering officer, to improvise. LCS 116 had suffered topside damage, along with 17 dead and 12 wounded. The jammed rudder caused towing problems, but it was still possible to maintain a forward speed of four knots. But Laffey‘s gunners had shot down nine attackers. The crew raced to general quarters and the five-inch gunners in forward mounts 51 and 52 opened fire. He pressed the microphone button, and throughout the ship boomed the familiar words, “This is the captain speaking.” Becton warned his crew not to expect the same kind of luck Ditter had had. With Beau Billingslea. But it was RP 1 and adjacent posts that would encounter the main aerial threat. 1. 1. Before additional repairs were begun, the battered ship was thrown open for viewing by the public. As he passed low over the length of the ship, he clipped off the starboard yardarm. well-placed bomb to severely damage or sink aircraft carriers and other large ships late in the war. The pilot dropped his bomb and sped away. The portside 20mm and 40mm mounts and the Corsair were hitting the Judy, which splashed into the water about 50 yards away from Laffey. On April 16, 1945, the crewmen of the USS Laffey were battle hardened and prepared. On the bridge, Ari Phoutrides had recorded eight planes and eight kills in the log. Laffey’s guns were severely damaged by multiple bombs and kamikaze attacks by Japanese fighters. In a battle lasting 79 minutes, the ship was struck by five,  six  or eight  kamikazes and two bombs, but Becton refused to abandon his ship. He grabbed a new flag from the flag locker, shinnied up the mast and attached the new colors with a piece of line. Becton hoped his ship would be as lucky, but at the same time, he felt he should speak to his crew about the battle that was bound to come. The attack on the Laffey lasted 48 turns and it was bloody as hell for the Japanese and Americans alike.-----Saga of the USS Laffey USN Side. That and more on Defense News Weekly for February 20, 2021. Laffey‘s next stop was Pearl Harbor, where the crew was warmly welcomed and entertained while the ship underwent further patching to ensure its safe passage back to the West Coast. Two came in from the bow and two from the stern in a coordinated attack. 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