Information on the DD-459



The first USS Laffey,
Benson- (Bristol-) class DD 459, was built with Woodworth at the Bethlehem Steel Company shipyard in San Francisco and commissioned there 31 March 1942, LCdr. William E. Hank in command.
 

To: Task Force 67

In April 2006, cruise ship Clipper Odyssey heaved to over the position of Laffey's remains. Mrs. Cary Webb Sears, daughter of LCdr. Hank, addressed the passengers and crew before leading a wreath ceremony.
  
In addition to her Presidential Unit Citation, Laffey earned three battle stars on her Asiatic-Pacific Service Medal for participating in the following operations:
We believe the enemy has undoubtedly suffered a crushing defeat. We thank Admiral Kinkaid for his intervention yesterday. We thank Lee for his sturdy effort last night. Our own aircraft has been grand in its relentless hammering of the foe. All those efforts are appreciated but our greatest homage goes to Callaghan, Scott and their men who with magnificent courage against seemingly hopeless odds drove back the first hostile attack and paved the way for the success to follow. To them the men of Cactus lift their battered helmets in deepest admiration.

ALEXANDER A. VANDEGRIFT
General, U.S Marines

Following training operations off the west coast, she was sent to the South Pacific to take part in the Guadalcanal campaign, arriving in late August.

Replacing Farenholt (flagship of Capt. Robert G. Tobin, ComDesRon 12), Aaron Ward and Buchanan in the screen of Wasp (CV 7) after the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, Laffey, with Duncan, Lansdowne and cruisers Helena and Salt Lake City, collectively rescued 1,946 survivors (see photo above) on 15 September, when Wasp was torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-19.

Two night gun-and-torpedo battles off Guadalcanal highlighted the remainder of Laffey's short career. On 11-12 October, at the Battle of Cape Esperance, she was third in line following DesRon 12 destroyers Farenholt (flag) and Duncan, leading cruisers San Francisco (flagship of Rear Admiral Norman Scott, CTG 64.2), Boise, Salt Lake City and Helena and rear DDs Buchanan and McCalla in turning back a Japanese bombardment group during action in which Duncan was lost.


A month later, in the early hours of 13 November, she participated in the opening of the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Second in line behind 1500-tonner Cushing and ahead of Sterett and O'Bannon in the van of Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callahan's 13-ship Task Group 67.4, she engaged Japanese battleships Hiei and Kirishima before sustaining a torpedo hit in the stern from destroyer Teruzuki. Her after magazines detonated shortly thereafter and she sank with a loss of 59 officers and men killed and 116 wounded. (Aaron Ward, Capt. Tobin's flagship on this occasion, led the four rear destroyers DesRon 12's Barton and Monssen, both of which were also lost in this action, and the 2100-ton Fletcher, which emerged undamaged. Laffey, Sterett and O'Bannon all earned Presidential Presidential Unit Citations, as did Rear Admiral Scott's flagship Atlanta and Admiral Callaghan's flagship San Francisco.) 

IN TRIBUTE TO THOSE WHO FOUGHT IN THE BATTLE OF GUADALCANAL
NOVEMBER 13-15, 1942

To the superb officers and men on the sea, on land, in the air, and under the seas who in the past five days have performed such magnificent feats for our country. You have won the undying gratitude of your country and have written our names in golden letters on the pages of history. No honor for you could be too great, my pride in you is beyond expression. Magnificently done. May God bless each and every one of you. To the glorious dead, hail heroes´┐Żmay you all rest with God.

WILLIAM F. HALSEY
Admiral, U.S. Navy


In 1992, a National Geographic expedition led by Dr. Robert Ballard discovered Laffey's remains nearly a half-mile below the surface of Ironbottom Sound, off Guadalcanal. As reported in the video and book The Lost Fleet of Guadalcanal, she is upright and largely intact from the bow to amidships, but her after third has disappeared. Both forward 5-inch guns are trained out to port, and her midships superstructure is holed by a 14-inch projectile from a Japanese battleship.
  

 

1 Star CAPE ESPERANCE (Second Savo)  11-12 October 1942.
1 Star CAPTURE AND DEFENSE OF GUADALCANAL 12 November 1942.
1 Star GUADALCANAL (Third Savo) 12-15 November 1942.

Laffey's casualties at the Battle of Guadalcanal.
    (Source: http://taskforce67.tripod.com/dd459.htm)

KILLED IN ACTION:

Lieute(jg) Joseph W. Finch Jr. USNR
BRANHAM, Jack S1c
BROWN, Donald N. FC1c
DARUGNA, Louis F1c
KNUDSEN, M. L. S1c
McMILLAN, C. J. BM2c
PERINO, Mike Cox
PUCKETT, F. F2c
RUNDALL W. C. F2c
SIMS, R. W. F2c
SHERMAN, E. R. S1c
SWAIN, C. C. WT2c
THORNBER, J. H. RM3c
TREVINO, Amado, Jr. S1c
WILKINSON, R. S2c
WILSON, V. L. R. S1c
QUINTERS, P. TM3c

DIED OF WOUNDS RECEIVED IN ACTION:


CHASE, Guy LaVerne S2c
SANDERSON, Frederick D. TM1c
GRAHAM, E. V. S2c

WOUNDED IN ACTION
:

# W. T. Doyle, Jr. Lieutenant USN
# W. K. Ratliff Lieutenant USN
Eldo W. Bergman Lieutenant USN
# Thomas A. Evins Lieutenant (jg.) USN
George A. Rice Lieutenant (jg.) USN
# D. S. Sterrett Ensign USN
# J. E. Haines Ensign USNR
# P.H. MC Gann Ensign USNR
Francis A. Paul Boatswain USN
Lester E. Murphy Machinist USN
# ALMEIDA, Frank CRT # ATKINSON, R.P. F3c
BAILEY, R.O. FC2c BARKER, R.E. CM2c
BECICNA, J.W. WT2c BROWN, F.E. SC3c
# BROWNLEE, R.W. S1c BLANCHARD, M.C. F1c
BUSH, O.D. F2C CAMBELL, T.M. SC3c
# CARRIGAN, K.L. F2c CARTER, D.L. EM1c
CASEY, A.W. S1c CHADA, T. F1c
CHARPAN, R.C. S1c COKER, R.M. CGM(AA)
COLEMAN, W.M. CGM(PA) CURTIS, J.R. SoM3c
# DALEY, J.J. CBM(AA) DAVIS, W.P. S1c
# DENNIS, L.W. GM2c DUGAN, R. S2c
DUZENBERRY, R.G. QM2c EARLIN, R. Jr. GM1c
EGBERT, W.K. WT1c ELLEDGE, E.B. F2c
FAUNCE, J.W. S1c FLAIRERTY, R.J. S1c
# FONT, P.J. SC2c # FORTE, P.G. S1c
# FORNAS, L.L. S1c FOSTER, E. WT2c
GILLEY, F.E. PC1c # GREYSON, C.A. Matt1c
BELL, L.D. WT2c HALE, R. SM3c
HENDRICKSON, S.R. GM2c HOLLOMON, H.N. SM2c
HOSRKO, O. RM3c IVESTER, B. S1c
# JULIUS, R. Matt1c KASPER, J.L. CEM(PA)
# KERN, N.R. F2c KATTRICE, R.F. Rdm3c
KARAN, C. S2c # KELLOR, J.C. S2c
LA ROCQUE, J. F1c LEACH, L.N. CTM(PA)
LIEN, M.P. S1c MARTINEZ, D.M. S2c
MAXWELL, B.M. F2c MARTINEAU, J. S1c
MC CLINTOCK, F.B. Bm # MC DONALD, S. SK1c
MC FAYDEN, G. WT1c # MC QUEEN, W.C. CphM(PA)
MC WHORTER, J.N. F1c MINER, E.S. MM1c
# MITCHELL, L.F. EM1c MOORE, J.D. MM1c
# MEYERS, R. GM3c # NEWCOMBS, L. S2c
# PARTHIDGE, R.B. Rdrm3c # PARRY, G.T. GM2c
POTTER, E.J. S2c PARRISH, R.R. S2c
RIDEN, F.J. F1c RIDER, H.G. BM2c
ROBERTSON, N.W. S1c ROBINSON, D.W. SoM3c
ROGERS, R.E. Mamth1c SCHRIEBER, F.C. CMM(PA)
SKIRVIN, O.E. RadM3c STANLEY, R.R. MM2c
STEVENSON, H.F. SoM3c STRAUGHAN, R. JR. CSM(PA)
THOMAS, W.R. MM2c TOMICH, M.A. FC2c
UMBERGER, K.M. SoM3c VANLEET, W.D. Cox
VOIGHT, R.V. F1c WALLACE, R.T. EM3c
WATSON, R.Y. SoM3c WEBB, R.E. S2c
WEITZEL, S. SC1c WILLIAMS, C.E. S1c
WILLIAMS, H.E. MM1c WILLOUGHBY, O.L. S2c
WILSON, W.H. MM2c WINE, R.L. CRM(PA)

# Evacuated. Only the personnel which were evacuated sustained wounds of any serious nature.

Source: Bureau of Personnel casualty report, NARA.

 

 Back to Home Page
Back to 459 Index Page