Joe Folino, USS LAFFEY ASSOCIATION ( DD-724)
In this strange and sometime fantasy world we live in - what if - through some magical miracle, the LAFFEY could - once and only once - speak. What would she say? Perhaps it would sound like this.....
It is good to be here. Here among other gallant ships. Although proud and rewarding, it is also sad and very lonely at times. Nestled here along the pier, tied securely, with hardly a movement beneath my keel. I have much time to think. I think of the past and all that has gone before. My days are filled with visitors who walk my decks, looking and wondering, but never really knowing all that has taken place within me. I see beyond the channel where newer, sleeker ships with strange looking weapons, slip out to the oceans of the world. They steam for all of the places I have been. I strain at my lines, but to no avail. I am but a shell of my former self, no longer capable of participating.
I often re-live the past. The times when my hull was strong and new and my innards were pulsing and vibrant. I long for the power that I once possessed and I groan and ache, remembering the pain I once endured as I was torn apart in battles of long ago. Then patched and healing, left to rest in quiet waters with other great vessels. Only to be awakened once again to the sounds of battle. I press on through thousands of miles of oceans until, no longer useful. I sense I am close to being lost forever. A revival, brought on by many old crew and friends who never gave up, never stopped believing in me, save me from a fate met by many of my sisters. Pushing me, prodding me on until now, here in this final resting place, I look for peace once again...alone and waiting.
I resign myself to the controlled environment that dominates my existence, yet I am encouraged by the visits of many old friends. Familiar faces of those who cared for me, who served and survived and return to pay respect to our noble deeds. I am encouraged by the numbers of new friends who have merged in this task. The men and women who have joined forces to restore me so that I may represent some significant form, and perhaps be a monument to those who have gone on before. I look to those who have cared, so that some small measure of my history may be preserved to represent what they have dedicated themselves to.
I rest here and wait. I search the space around me for friends... for those who share special thoughts and feelings with me. To those, I ask to take the time and find a part of me closest to you. Press your hand against the cool steel of my shell and let the warmth of your spirit bring me to life again. Take a caring look at me, and see that I am secure. See that a coat of paint covers my flaws and suitable repairs conceal my inadequacies. Help me see and feel the pride of all who care to walk my decks. Let me hear their comments as they speak with pride of the courage that WAS and the caring that IS. Allow me to endure this existence with the knowledge that there will be generations to follow who will, I pray, be instilled with the same enduring spirit that all of you have shown. If that can be accomplished, then truly I will be forever known as..."THE SHIP THAT WOULD NOT DIE."
What if the LAFFEY really spoke those words? What if no one were there to hear them?
The above comments are dedicated to all of the crews, whoever served aboard this fine vessel, and to the Association members and the Work Parties that continue to show their love and respect to a "tired but gallant ship" that not only brought us through battles, but brought us home