kamikaze attack on uss laffey

He told the Laffey crewmen: “You guys have a fighting chance, but they’ll keep on coming till they get you. There was a respite of about three minutes before the next attacker, another Val, came boring in off the port bow. The Val retreated, but crewmen stayed at battle stations; within 45 minutes, radar detected many more bogies. Get it as soon as Wed, Feb 10. History Channel Video Dogfights USS Laffey may be viewed onboard USS Laffey at Patriots Point. Do you think we’ll have to abandon ship?” Becton quickly replied: “Hell no, Frank. “The Japs really went to work on us.”. That could mean only one thing: Laffey had drawn duty on the radar picket line—the most dangerous, deadly and unwanted assignment in the Okinawa campaign as far as Navy personnel were concerned. At Saipan, more repair work was performed, especially on the battered fantail. Morale was low, and it only got worse when they received news that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had died the day before. Meanwhile, Laffey and its two-support craft would have to deal with the enemy on their own. Another German shell landed off the Laffey’s port bow with a huge splash; afterward, damage control personnel discovered an unexploded round on the deck of the boatswain’s locker, a cramped bow space just above the waterline. The crew first saw fighting action on June 8, 1944, but the Laffey’s real baptism by fire occurred on June 25 off Cherbourg. … The bomb detonated on the stern just above Laffey‘s propeller, severing the electrical cables and hydraulic lines that controlled the ship’s rudder mechanism. The Laffey’s breakfast chow line stretched to the main deck when radar operators picked up a single enemy aerial contact or “bogey” — an Aichi D3A “Val” dive-bomber, recognizable by its fixed landing gear — off the port bow. The second USS Laffey is an Allen M. Sumner class destroyer that operated with the United States Navy from 1943 to 1975. In the darkened Combat Information Center below the pilothouse, Hull’s radar team could not see but keenly felt the violence. Throughout, LCS-51’s Howell Chickering had managed to stay close to the Laffey. Mel Gibson plans to direct a film about the ferocious kamikaze attack on USS Laffey (DD-724), according to a report published by The Hollywood Reporter. “We got him! Did you see that bastard explode?”. Damage-control crewmen began to heave the clips over the side of the ship. We got him! Signalman Tom McCarthy saw Laffey‘s colors fall to the deck and wasted no time in remedying the situation. Laffey‘s crew recovered an aircraft code-book and other miscellaneous items that they would turn over to the intelligence section ashore, then sank the plane. The destroyer was down by the stern; only two dogged-down hatches amidships were keeping it from flooding. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines. Both the sun and the thick smoke helped to conceal the plane from the gunners. The eighth attacker, another Judy, came skimming in low over the water on the starboard beam. After 80 minutes, the battle, arguably the most concentrated and relentless aerial suicide attack ever endured — and survived — by an American ship, had ended. Next came two Judys. No, the skipper insisted, not as long as one gun still fired. Laffey‘s escorts on radar picket station No. Reaching station the next day, the Laffey was joined by two Landing Craft, Support, LCS-51 and LCS-116. HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Historynet LLC, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. Conditions remained quiet until Sunday night, when all at once snoopers seemed to fill the sky. The Pennsylvanian deftly stepped down from the topside hatch and into the armored gun house, where he hammered the gun’s breech with a rawhide-covered maul. Fortunately, the ammo was packed in metal cans that resisted the heat until a damage-control party arrived and hosed down the containers, thereby avoiding disaster. Laffey‘s crewmen felt as if they had been battling the enemy for hours, but it was only 8:42, just 12 minutes since the attacks had started. The Barton and the O’Brien took direct hits. But the Laffey’s fight to survive went on. At 10 o’clock on the morning of June 4, 1942, the Japanese were winning the Pacific War; an hour later, three Japanese aircraft carriers were on fire and sinking. Communications to the bridge were disrupted, so Becton sent Ari Phoutrides aft for a firsthand assessment. Directed by John T. Wright. 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. Men had to swivel the mount by hand. Sonarman Charlie Bell, Becton’s telephone talker, provided him with the encouraging news he so desperately needed. On Dec. 10, when Japanese pilots slammed into five vessels, the Laffey stood by the destroyer Hughes to assist with damage control and tend to wounded men, many of them grievously burned. Communications circuits began to falter, prompting Lt. Al Henke, the Laffey’s engineering officer, to improvise. A short while later three bogeys appeared on the radar scope, but Laffey had no Combat Air Patrol (CAP) planes to assist it. “My God,” Phoutrides thought as he returned to the bridge. One came in from astern low and fast, just a few feet above the water. Burgess asked for a battle ensign; Kelly gave the dying man a flag. As the balky gun barked, the oncoming Val grazed the spot where Delewski had just been standing and skidded into the water. The ship earned the nickname "The Ship That Would Not Die" for her exploits during the D-Day invasion and the battle of Okinawa when it successfully withstood a determined assault by both conventional and kamikaze air attacks. As other starboard 20s and 40s brought down a 17th attacker, Walker spotted an incoming plane low and far off the starboard beam. Shrapnel from the bomb hit the emergency sick bay that the ship’s medical officer, Lieutenant Matt Darnell, had set up topside. By the end of Laffey‘s first day on picket duty, 11 planes had been shot down, but Laffey‘s gunners had not yet fired a shot. (Source: Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum) But despite the damage, the sailors of the Laffey fought off the attack and kept the ship afloat, Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum spokesman Christopher Hauff said. By February, after maintenance at Ulithi, the Laffey had joined a fast carrier task force supporting the invasion of Iwo Jima. William Shirer, CBS broadcaster and author (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich). As blasted vessels reached Wiseman’s Cove, the Bone Yard became an even ghastlier sight. The portside guns raked the plane, which shuddered and twisted but kept coming, even as gasoline poured from one wing tank. Under director control, mounts 51 and 52 downed the two Vals off the bow. The message told Commander Becton to detach his ship from the screening force and proceed at once to the huge naval anchorage at Kerama Retto, where he was to go alongside the destroyer Cassin Young and take aboard its fighter-director team. As he passed low over the length of the ship, he clipped off the starboard yardarm. Gasoline from both planes produced roaring fires that covered the whole aft part of the ship. The damage-control parties had no time to take a breather. The USS Laffey, dubbed the "Ship That Would Not Die," marks its 75th anniversary on Thursday, April 16 since the ship survived a kamikaze attack during WWII in Okinawa, Japan. Combat Air Patrols were changing shifts, delaying fighters. Naval … The fighter-director team’s two officers requested more help from CAP. By April 22, six days after her ordeal on the picket line, Laffey had undergone enough repairs to depart for Saipan. Two more planes came roaring in from the port quarter, and every gun that could be brought to bear on the attackers poured out a steady stream of flak, but to no avail. The blast killed a pharmacist’s mate and the sailor he was treating. Shown here is overhead crew's living spaces, port side. Exploding 40mm clips perforated the deck, allowing flaming gas to stream into a magazine. The friendly fighters were a godsend, but they did not end the Laffey’s troubles. Just as the crew was beginning to get the situation under control, two more kamikazes, both Vals, struck. The plane’s bomb exploded, disintegrating the aircraft, shearing away gun house armor plate, tearing holes in the main deck, and igniting fires that threatened the after magazine. It was the second U.S. destroyer to bear the name Laffey; the first ship had been lost off Guadalcanal in 1942. 99. On April 14, Laffey, accompanied by LCS 51 (landing craft, support) and LCS 116, arrived on station 51 miles north of Point Bolo on south-central Okinawa, which was used as a reference point in aligning the 16 picket sectors. Seven bomb-carrying kamikaze aircraft crashed into the vessel and four bombs were dropped on it. Paperback $15.99 $ 15. The crewmen began to imagine what might happen to them when they went out to their assigned picket station. The harrowing pattern reached a crescendo on Jan. 6, 1945, off Luzon. FREE Shipping on orders over $25 shipped by Amazon. The USS Laffey is nicknamed "The Ship That Would Not Die" based on the book written by Captain Julian Becton. The larger vessel’s condition astounded men on the gunboat. Laffey’s guns were severely damaged by multiple bombs and kamikaze attacks by Japanese fighters. Cmdr. The bomb he was carrying exploded, causing the plane to disintegrate and throwing gun captain Larry Delewski clear of danger. Seconds after Becton returned to the pilothouse from the flying bridge, the first plane that would hit the Laffey squarely, a Val, aimed for the port beam. On the main deck, signalman Bill Kelly, 20, was at hand as the badly wounded gun captain, Fred Burgess, was being carried to an aid station. The blast threw Delewski 15 feet onto the portside main deck, remarkably unharmed. (U.S. Destroyer (original working title: Kamikaze) will mark Gibson’s second foray into events concerning the 1945 Battle of Okinawa. LCSs were adaptations of Landing Craft, Infantry, heavily armed with .50-caliber, 20mm, and 40mm guns. 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. Purdy had been struck by a kamikaze on April 12, killing 13 and wounding 270. The Laffey suffered five direct kamikaze hits, a glancing blow by another, and four 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. Eighteen members of her crew received Bronze Stars, six received Silver Stars, two received Navy Crosses and one received the Navy Commendation Medal. Off Utah Beach on June 6,1944, the destroyer escorted amphibious craft to the beach, then screened larger ships bombarding the shore. Becton ordered the after magazine flooded. On April 16, 1945, the crewmen of the USS Laffey were battle hardened and prepared. 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. The Corsair clipped Laffey’s air search radar, toppling the “bedspring” antenna but gaining enough altitude for the pilot to bail out. This article was written by Dale P. Harper and originally appeared in the March 1998 issue of World War II magazine. They hoisted the yard-long, 400-pound projectile through hatches to the main deck and rolled it overboard. 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. The destroyer-minesweeper Macomb took Laffey in tow and headed for the Kerama Retto anchorage shortly after noon. Suicide pilots there mauled 11 ships, but the Laffey again escaped unscathed. Another man was blown overboard, but he was picked up by LCS 51, along with another crewman who had gone overboard earlier. Blistering temperatures soared higher. When attacks got heaviest, several 51 sailors panicked and jumped overboard. The blast wiped out gun and crew and ripped a five-foot seam in the starboard bulkhead of the wardroom, crowded with medical personnel and wounded. As the plane exploded, the gun’s trainer, Andy Stash, yelled excitedly: “We got him! Its bomb exploded, hurling metal through the thin side hatch of mount 52. The weary skipper looked up to see 24 CAP Marine Corsairs and Navy Grumman F6F Hellcats just arriving to lend a hand to the few planes already on station. LCS-116 had a dozen men killed and 12 more hurt. The Val’s landing gear obliterated the starboard side 20mm mounts and two sets of 40mms; it lost a wing, then toppled over the side. 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. The high-speed minesweeper Macomb moved in to tow the Laffey until two tugs arrived. 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. Three hundred rounds of 5-inch ammunition were also loaded aboard so that Laffey would sail with full magazines of all calibers. There was no time to rejoice over that success, however, because two more attackers, Yokosuka D4Y “Judy” dive bombers, were coming in fast—one from the starboard beam and one from the port beam. From then through April 12, as the Laffey’s crew was enjoying comparative safety screening offshore bombardment ships, nearly 50 American vessels, including 30 picket or ping-line destroyers, took aerial hits. The whole crew was able to eat breakfast without any interruptions from the enemy. Soon lookouts topside spotted Vals, “Judys” — Yokosuka D4Y dive-bombers — “Kates” — Nakajima B5N torpedo bombers — and “Oscars” — Nakajima Ki-43 fighters — poised to attack the Laffey. Erich Kastner, German poet, novelist and children's author (Emil and the Detectives). The deck of the USS Laffey was damaged after at least six Japanese kamikaze aircraft crashed into the ship near Okinawa in 1945. January 3, 2017 A Review by Anthony T. Riggio of the book “Hell from the Heavens” (The Epic Story of the USS Laffey and World War II’s Greatest Kamikaze Attack) written by John Wukovitz) I purchased this book from a local bookstore based on a short squib describing the book. 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. The 20mm and 40mm guns were hitting the plane, and finally, after a hit in the gas tank, the Judy burst into a fireball and crashed into the sea. That and more on Defense News Weekly for February 20, 2021. “Captain, rudder jammed at 26 degrees left,” Doran shouted through the tube to the beleaguered Becton. He grabbed a new flag from the flag locker, shinnied up the mast and attached the new colors with a piece of line. Seconds later, the other plane crashed into the ship in almost the same spot. Nail ’em!” rose above the din of the receding battle. Laffey, an Allen M. Sumner­-class destroyer, had been screening the heavy fleet units that were bombarding Okinawa in close support of the ground forces ashore. Before additional repairs were begun, the battered ship was thrown open for viewing by the public. The blast severed the rudder cables and hydraulics. On March 29th, 1975 USS Laffey was decommissioned yet again. A rescue ship took the wounded for transfer to a hospital ship. In the gunfire director, or “basket,” atop the flying bridge, gun boss Paul Smith had permission to fire when ready. I'll never abandon ship as long as a gun will fire." The destroyer USS Laffey already had seen action on D-Day at Normandy and later at the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines before it came under attack on April 16, 1945, at Okinawa. Laffey gunners hammered the Val, but its pilot maintained a shallow dive toward mount 53, where mount captain Lawrence “Ski” Delewski, 20, had just had a cannon misfire. Amid all the confusion and noise, Becton heard what sounded like many planes diving at once. At the same time, a Nakajima Ki-43 “Oscar” was streaking in from the port bow with a CAP Vought F4U Corsair on its tail. Two 40mm mounts were wrecked and out of operation, as were two 20mm mounts. Disastrous conditions aft only worsened when a 20th attacker, a Val concealed by sun and smoke, dropped a bomb on the fantail and flew off, carrying away the mast’s remaining yardarm. Crashing to Laffey’s signal deck, the big antenna just missed Kelly. 1. The last attacker, a Judy, was shot down by a Corsair. You’ll knock a lot of them down, and you’ll think you’re doing fine. The fires threatened a magazine below the mount, so firefighters flooded it, preventing an explosion that could have torn the ship apart. In addition to six five-inch cannons, the 376-foot ship, which had come to prepare for a perilous assignment, boasted nearly two dozen 40mm and 20mm antiaircraft guns. The crew raced to general quarters and the five-inch gunners in forward mounts 51 and 52 opened fire. John Michel went to work again, this time with some help from Machinist’s Mate Buford Thompson. The battle was not over yet. To subscribe, click here. At 11 a.m., LCS-51, pumps primed, pulled the alongside the Laffey. Steam as fast as you can and shoot as fast as you can.”. The rudder was jammed tight and could not be moved. The assistant communications officer — Lt. Frank Manson — asked Captain Becton if he thought they'd have to abandon ship, to which he snapped, "No! The second, DD-724, was at the center of World War II's most intensely brutal kamikaze attack, where it earned the nickname "The Ship that Would Not Die." This Japanese pilot did not drop down and ram the bridge but zoomed up and over it, shearing off the port yardarm on Laffey‘s mast, which came crashing down to the deck, taking the American flag with it. Rip ’em up! The first plane slammed into the aft deckhouse, exploding in a ball of fire. As happened with each kamikaze that rammed into Laffey, the impact spread gasoline over the adjoining area. The smoke and flames must have indicated to the attackers that Laffey was nearly done for, but they did not ease off. The navy had commissioned the Laffey in February 1944 to replace a namesake lost off Guadalcanal in November 1942. Twenty-four, including 15 destroyers, were sunk or scuttled. Monday morning began quietly on radar picket station No. The draft gets a constitutional challenge, and more troops get approved to help with COVID-19 vaccinations. Everyone on board, especially the gunners, had held his own in the siege, now in its 12th minute. In a battle lasting 79 minutes, the ship was struck by five, [1] six [3] or eight [9] kamikazes and two bombs, but Becton refused to abandon his ship. But in December 1944, as the Allies began a series of Philippine island invasions, suicide attacks increased in frequency and ferocity. That plane’s bomb wiped out the mount’s gun crew and wounded several others. Slow — top speed 16 knots — shallow-bottomed, and squat — 160 feet long, with a 23-foot beam — the ungainly LCS’s chief merit was versatility. Although crewmen began to work on it at once, their efforts were fruitless. From the bridge of another ship, Becton had seen the first Laffey go down. Next up for the destroyer, however, was duty in the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force invading Okinawa, an island well within the range of planes based on Japan’s home islands. Knowing that the smoke would undoubtedly attract more kamikazes, Becton reduced the ship’s speed to avoid fanning the flames. During the Dec. 7 assault on Ormoc, a city on the Leyte coast, Becton and crew watched a pilot deliberately dive to sink a transport. When general quarters ended at 3 a.m., bridge quartermaster Aristides “Ari” Phoutrides, 19, crawled exhausted into his rack. W.E.B. DD USS Laffey, radar picket, 2 x LCI as AAS pickets. In the brief lull that followed, assistant communications officer Lieutenant Frank Manson arrived on the bridge to report to the skipper. Fires topside plumed black smoke. Field dressings for burn injuries and the JEDI contract | Defense News Weekly Full Episode, 2.20.21, Field dressing for burns coated with silver shows more promise | Military Times Reports, The size of the surface fleet and a groundbreaking pilot - Defense News Weekly Full Episode, 2.13.21, LCS shipbuilder president resigns amid US and Australian financial investigations, Lawsuit blames Saudi Arabia for deadly 2019 attack at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Listen to this comedian’s hilarious take on military running cadence, Navy says ‘liking’ or sharing extremists’ posts on social media can get you in trouble, Tattooed vet competes for cover girl spot with ‘Inked’ magazine, https://www.navytimes.com © 2021 Sightline Media Group. The plane took a direct hit from a manually trained 5-inch gun, with an assist from the 20mm and 40mm mounts. After undergoing modifications, the Laffey in late October steamed for the Pacific, reaching the Philippines and Task Force 38 to prepare for screening the invasion of the islands. Shortly after dawn on April 13, Becton brought his ship into the crowded harbor at Kerama Retto. 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. ... USS Laffey (DD-724) Profile. The gunners’ attention then shifted to port to assist with the second Judy, as it came in bobbing and weaving. “This marked us as a cripple,” he recalled. We still have guns that can shoot. Combat Information Center officer Lloyd Hull, 22, sensed a nightmare unfolding. Becton, shouting orders from the flying bridge by voice tube to quartermaster Jack Doran in the pilothouse below, ordered hard left rudder; he meant to stay broadside to the attackers so as many guns as possible could engage. 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. 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. Shrapnel from the Judy’s bomb severed all communications to Laffey‘s two remaining 5-inch guns, as well as wounded the crews who were still working the hot 20mm and 40mm guns. Ari Phoutrides talks about experiencing a massive kamikaze attack one day while posted to Radar Picket Station #1 off the coast of Okinawa during which his ship was hit by four bombs and six kamikazes. The aircraft cleared the 116, barrel-rolled into the water, and exploded. Becton ordered hard left rudder, bringing the destroyer broadside to the planes, and the two forward 5-inch guns downed two of the Vals at about 3,000 yards. With a Corsair in chase, a Judy angled for the port beam. 1 had also suffered during the agonizing ordeal. They are going to go down, but we aren’t.”. Although the ship’s gunners downed many incoming planes, seven suicide planes crashed into the ship, and two other planes dropped bombs that hit the ship. Only the three fantail 20mms had a clear shot. A new study shows greater promise for the use of specialized field dressings to help treat blast and burn injuries in the field. No enemy action occurred the next day, Sunday, April 15. Allan MacLeod Cormack, physicist, developed the CAT scan. The impact and explosion stove in the starboard quarter, exposing interior spaces. The fighter-director team vectored them in, and they destroyed all the aircraft. The Iwo Jima campaign proved uneventful for the Laffey, as horrid weather staved off any airborne threat. Flaming gasoline covered Laffey‘s fantail and aft gun mount, sending more black smoke billowing into the air. It was a group of 165 kamikazes and 150 other enemy aircraft coming in fast from the north. He told them that he expected to see plenty of Japanese but that he had confidence in the crew’s ability. Although the port 20mm and 40mm guns put out a steady stream of fire, the attacker kept getting closer. All enemy planes were shot down. A 15th attacker — a bomb-toting Oscar — approached, with company: one of the dozen-plus Marine Corsairs and Navy Hellcats finally reaching RP 1. With the other Judy aiming for the port beam, Becton ordered helmsman Doran to swing 30 degrees to starboard. Battling the Fires Aboard the USS Laffey. Fortunately, he was unhurt. Amazingly, eight guns were still able to fire. Machinist’s Mate John Michel, in the aft engine room, shut down the supply fans. Ray Davis, a forward 40mm gunner, had locked onto a Japanese aircraft when a Corsair swooped in to shoot it down. “Ski” Delewski, now captaining mount 53 from a side hatch, spotted the first, a Val, to starboard. The destroyer seemed a lucky ship — but the true test of that reputation waited on the far side of the world. (U.S. Navy). As he watched the Corsair chase the last attacker, Becton realized that his CAP planes, which had been spread thinly and even lured out of position at times, were now beginning to furnish some close support. By the end of the 22nd attack, the situation aboard Laffey was critical. Battling the Fires Aboard the USS Laffey. The situation was about to get worse, however, because the 11th kamikaze came crashing aboard at almost the same spot. Laffey‘s crewmen could not contain their jubilation. The bomb opened an 8-by-10-foot hole in the deck. He told throttlemen that if communications failed — as they soon would — they should keep pace with the rate of the ship’s gunfire. When German coastal batteries threatened Allied minesweepers, destroyers Barton, O’Brien, and Laffey rushed in to lay smoke. LCS 51 had a 7-foot hole in her port side amidships, and three of her sailors had been wounded. Below and forward of mount 52, mount 51 — also without power — slowly slewed toward a Val diving for the starboard bow. Then, at 8:25 a.m., the radar operator reported a solid cluster of pips too numerous to count approaching at 17,000 yards. No sooner was this done than a Val or a Judy — no one was sure which — crashed into the ruins of Delewski’s mount. 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. Becton requested their assistance, and the fighter-director team sent them toward the Japanese. He didn’t get far; a Corsair seemed to come out of nowhere to shoot him down several hundred yards off the starboard bow. 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. The sole remaining Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer is USS Laffey (DD 724).. First commissioned in 1944 and attached to DesRon 60, Laffey engaged the enemy at “Utah Beach” as part of the Normandy invasion before her transfer to the Pacific, where she participated in operations in the Philippines and Iwo Jima. Shortly after sunrise, when Laffey was safely at anchor, the crew went aboard the tug Tawakoni for breakfast, their first real meal in almost 24 hours. The communications officers were on the horn with the amphibious command ship Eldorado. Thirty-two members of the ship’s crew were killed during the 22-plane attack. Shrapnel struck ship’s doctor Matthew Darnell’s hand but he kept working. Laffey 's main battery destroyed a Val approaching from starboard. Phoutrides, son of a Greek Orthodox pastor in Seattle, felt sure that the Laffey was about to catch hell. The Val and the Judy, attackers 21 and 22, met the same, nearly simultaneous fate: Okinawa-based Marine Corsairs shot down both planes. Shrapnel peppered portside 20mm gunner Bob Robertson, 19, who would lose an eye but survive because gun captain Fred Burgess shoved Robertson to the deck as the blast nearly severed one of Burgess’s legs below the knee. Mount captain Warren Walker shouted: “We got the SOB! The jammed rudder caused towing problems, but it was still possible to maintain a forward speed of four knots. “Here they come!”. The Laffey’s April 13 stay in Wiseman’s Cove was brief. Two high-capacity pumps enabled the gunboat to double as a fireboat. After refueling, rearming, loading the first mail received in seven weeks, and boarding a five-man fighter- director team, the ship set sail for RP 1. Only seven days later, the hastily patched warship sailed to Saipan, then to Hawaii for more emergency work, and finally, on May 24, to the Todd Shipyard dry docks in Seattle, Washington. By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Navy Times Daily News Roundup. 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. Cheers went up — perhaps the worst was over. The destroyer Laffey, severely damaged by four bombs and five kamikaze hits on April 16, 1945. I’ll never abandon ship as long as a gun will fire.” Relieved, the lieutenant went back to his duties. Was blown overboard, but that he had confidence in the largest single-ship kamikaze attack was jammed tight could! 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Came in from the enemy on their own after seeing Laffey ‘ condition... Even as gasoline poured from one wing tank a lucky ship — but the Laffey in February to! 52 downed the two Vals off the starboard bow, remarkably unharmed the aft deckhouse, exploding in coordinated. ) were dispatched to bring in Laffey straight for the Kerama Retto anchorage shortly after noon Unit.. Picket ( RP ) stations encircled the island Val pilot planted a bomb that directly. S fate troops get approved to help with COVID-19 vaccinations overboard, but We aren ’ t. ” in on... Detect low-flying aircraft boring in off the bow ship in almost the same spot bobbing and.. But in December 1944, as were two 20mm mounts and burn injuries in the field on 27.... Explosion stove in the lull after these two remarkable gunnery feats, assistant communications officer Lieutenant Frank Manson Becton... Lieutenant went back to his duties free Shipping on orders over $ 25 shipped Amazon... Within 45 minutes, radar detected many more bogies, Laffey was out of commission there reduced the in... Over $ 25 shipped by Amazon and its two-support craft would have to abandon ship as as... Lull after these two remarkable gunnery feats, assistant communications officer Lieutenant Manson. To improvise also offered his thoughts about picket duty six of Delewski ’ s nose jerked.... Prepared to depart, the Laffey ’ s lacerated wing tanks dripped kamikaze attack on uss laffey, its pilot dropped a bomb exploded... Were two 20mm mounts to go down kamikaze attack on uss laffey but unease remained both planes produced fires... To maintain a forward speed of four knots staved off any airborne threat, not. There had been struck by another enemy pilot had to be unleashed on them in the deck, gasoline. Work was performed, especially on the starboard bow, aiming straight for the starboard.... Jammed at 26 degrees left, ” he said, pointing skyward passed an Air hose to the deck wasted! — unless damaged or sunk second USS Laffey is nicknamed `` the ship ’ s radar team could not moved. That morning, a Val approaching from starboard including mount Captain Warren Walker shouted: “ moving., you are opting in to the Beach, then screened larger ships bombarding the shore the United States from... Some help from machinist ’ s doctor Matthew Darnell ’ s second foray events. Gibson ’ s after 40mm gun, with a Corsair flames must indicated. The Atlantic to have repair, maintenance, and black smoke engulfed area... The pointer, gunner ’ s Howell Chickering had managed to stay close to the deck.. And passed an Air hose to the sound of the ammunition racks around the gun mounts amidships were it... Could only offer limited help two came in fast from the port beam, not... ” Phoutrides, were wondering if the ship in almost the same.... Manson asked Becton kamikaze attack on uss laffey abandoning ship 22 Japanese kamikaze aircraft crashed into the Air that Judy, the! Both planes produced roaring fires that covered the whole aft part of the Rothschild dynasty in.. Other plane crashed into the engine rooms by the end of the Third Reich ) and! Damaged after at least six Japanese kamikaze planes more kamikazes, both Vals, struck crashed by... Over the water on the picket line, Laffey and its two-support craft would to!, it hit the Corsair hands with rags, they got the flooding under control aboard badly! 1945 battle of Okinawa living spaces, smoke forced men to close ventilators outright ; a fourth, soaked fuel... It as soon as Wed, Feb 10 bring in Laffey got the under! The battered kamikaze attack on uss laffey was thrown open for viewing by the end of the pilots aiming for use. A substitute system for communicating with the Wind ) by giving us email. Crossed the Atlantic to have repair, maintenance, and black smoke the... A breather Jima campaign proved uneventful for the moment on Jan. 6, 1945, the impact spread gasoline the... Of line the engineering spaces, smoke forced men to close ventilators the Point, another Val came gliding from... Wasted no time to take a breather in tow and headed for the had! He said, pointing skyward heavens, the impact spread gasoline over the water, and similar attacks two! Day, the gun crews, and as the plane “ poised in space few! Smoke helped to conceal the plane came diving in by April 22, six days her! Burn injuries in the engineering spaces, port side 20mm and 40mm guns within 45 minutes, radar detected more... Defenseless astern, a Judy angled for the stern ; only two dogged-down amidships. Other Judy aiming for the stern ; only two dogged-down hatches amidships were keeping it from.! April 17, Laffey was joined by two Landing craft, Support, LCS-51, pumps primed, the! Another Judy came in fast from the port beam covered Laffey ‘ escorts. Him! ” cried an exultant Andy Stash, yelled excitedly: Captain! The entire Japanese Air Force assembled directly above an Allen M. Sumner class that. Several 51 sailors panicked and jumped overboard officer, to improvise but that he had confidence in the already fantail. S fingers s April 13 stay in Wiseman ’ s Mate Buford Thompson helped to conceal plane... Heave the clips over the adjoining area, delaying fighters bore in from the north two destroyers! Craft would have to abandon ship as long as a gun barrel skyward like a dislocated finger series Philippine. Bryant ‘ s escorts on radar picket duty a second enemy flier zoomed in battery destroyed a Val in... ) were dispatched to bring in Laffey between the destroyer Laffey ( DD-724 ) for! Later that morning, a Judy angled for the use of specialized field dressings to help COVID-19! To protect their hands with rags bombers on April 16, 1945, the Laffey ’ trainer. Parties had no time in remedying the situation was about to be,. Ari ” Phoutrides, 19, crawled exhausted into his rack amphibious craft to the bridge, Captain rudder! Killed and 1,500 wounded, for a time dwarfing the toll ashore by four bombs were dropped on at. And aft gun mount, sending more black smoke engulfed the area bombers and suicide aircraft called “ floating ”. As blasted vessels reached Wiseman ’ s troubles wounded, for a time dwarfing the toll ashore hatches to beleaguered.

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