WWII destroyer returns to SC home after repairs

Jan 25, 2012, 5:27 PM

Associated Press

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (AP) – With the blare of air horns, cheers and a champagne toast, “The Ship That Would Not Die” returned Wednesday to its home at a maritime museum on Charleston Harbor on the South Carolina coast.

Just after sunrise, the World War II destroyer USS Laffey was towed slowly down the Cooper River to the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum. It was moved more than two years ago to a dry dock so its hull could be repaired at a cost of about $9 million.

A group of about 50 people, including more than a dozen former crew members, gathered on the flight deck of another World War II vessel, the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, to welcome the Laffey home.

“This means a lot of years of fighting to get her saved again,” said Sonny Walker of Abington, Md., who served on the Laffey in the early 1960s. “This is the third time. The Germans tried to sink her. The Japanese tried to sink her and then she tried to sink herself sitting here. She’s whipped them all and she’s back again.”

The Laffey, built at Maine’s Bath Iron Works in 1943, got its nickname as “The Ship That Would Not Die” when it was on picket duty off Okinawa in March 1945. About 50 Japanese planes attacked and about half got through to the Laffey. The ship suffered 103 casualties when it was hit by four bombs and five kamikaze planes.

The Laffey is also the only surviving American World War II destroyer that saw action in the Atlantic, where it was part of the D-Day invasion. Now designated a national historic landmark, it was decommissioned in 1975 and brought to Patriots Point in 1981.

“It’s where I spent my youth. I grew up on that ship,” said 85-year-old Lee Hunt of Charleston, S.C., a member of the original crew when it was commissioned. “I went on it when I was 17 and spent my 18th birthday killing people in Germany in the invasion of France and right on into Okinawa and the Philippines and what have you. This means a lot. I spent a lot of time on that ship.”

He said it was no surprise that, by 1945, the Laffey would encounter suicide attacks by Japanese aviators.

“We knew we were going to get hit. Every destroyer out there on picket duty knew they were going to be attacked,” said Hunt, who said he had no time to get nervous because he was on the ship and doing what the crew was asked to do.

The renovation was paid for with a state loan, which the museum plans to repay with operating revenues.

Bringing the Laffey back is not so much about ticket sales for a museum as it is about helping preserve the nation’s heritage, said Mac Burdette, the executive director of Patriots Point.

“More than ever we need reminders of what dedication and sacrifice are required if we are going to remain a free and independent nation,” he said. “Can we do without the Washington Monument that is going to take millions of dollars to repair from the earthquake? No. There are some things that are just worth paying for and this is part of it.”

___

Online:

Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum:
http://www.patriotspoint.org/

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

Associated Press

Army identifies 2 soldiers killed by falling tree in Georgia

FORT BENNING, Ga. (AP) — The Army identified two soldiers killed during training in the north Georgia mountains as a special forces medical sergeant and a recent West Point graduate. Staff Sgt. George Taber and 2nd Lt. Evan Fitzgibbon died Tuesday after they were struck by a falling tree while sheltering during “a weather-induced training […]
8 hours ago
Associated Press

Man gets 12 years in case that tested broad search warrants

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Virginia man has been sentenced to nearly 12 years in prison on federal bank robbery charges in a case that tested the constitutionality of broad search warrants that use Google location history to identify people who were near the scene of a crime. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Okello Chatrie, […]
8 hours ago
A customer pumps gas at an Exxon gas station, Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in Miami. Gasoline prices are ...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: How is inflation affecting commuting costs?

NEW YORK (AP) — Gas prices have fallen from the record highs they reached earlier this summer, but they’re still much higher than a year ago. And with inflation driving up the cost of pretty much everything else, finding the funds to cover your commute may be increasingly tricky. “Being able to get to work […]
8 hours ago
FILE - The price of regular unleaded gas is advertised for just under $4 a gallon at a Woodman's, W...
Associated Press

Tips for saving on your commute amid high inflation

NEW YORK (AP) — Gas prices are falling but still higher than they were a year ago. And inflation has made most everything else more expensive. If you’re looking to save money on your commute, here are some tips: IF YOU HAVE A CAR: MAKE A DRIVING STRATEGY AAA recommends avoiding traffic and adjusting your […]
8 hours ago
Associated Press

Taliban say bombing kills prominent Afghan cleric in Kabul

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A bombing killed a prominent Taliban cleric on Thursday at his religious center in the Afghan capital of Kabul, authorities said, the latest attack to strike the country in the year since the former insurgents seized power. Officials identified the cleric as Rahimullah Haqqani, a name that signifies he graduated from Darul […]
8 hours ago
Resorts casino president Mark Giannantonio speaks at a press conference at his casino in Atlantic C...
Associated Press

New leader takes helm at Atlantic City casino trade group

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The trade group for Atlantic City’s nine casinos named a veteran casino executive as its new president on Thursday. Mark Giannantonio has more than 35 years experience in the casino industry, and has been president and CEO of Resorts casino since 2012. Before that, he was president and CEO of […]
8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
WWII destroyer returns to SC home after repairs