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    "The Ship That Would Not Die!"

    Normandy Escort Ship, USS Laffey (DD-724).
    USS Laffey (DD-724) is an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer, commissioned in February 1944. The Laffey was the second ship to be named for Seaman Bartlett Laffey who was awarded the Medal of Honor during the American Civil War for his valiant stand manning a 12-pound howitzer while turning back a Confederate attack. 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 she successfully withstood a determined assault by conventional bombers and the most unrelenting kamikaze air attacks in history.

    The ensign from the Laffey is a 54" x 88" cotton bunting, 48-star, screen dyed canton flag with sewn stripes, finished with a heading and grommets. The flag is marked on the reverse hoist "USS Laffey (DD-724) Kamikase Killer" and a stenciled "CABOTOE 5 x 8".

    The Laffey began her WWII service in early 1944 training along the Atlantic Seaboard prior to convoying to Europe. She was assigned to the Western Task Force, Force "U" Escort Group 125.6 tasked with escorting and screening the ships assigned to Utah Beach. She departed Plymouth escorting a group of tugs, landing craft, and two Dutch gunboats and arrived off Utah Beach at dawn on 6 June 1944. She screened bombardment and landing ships while engaging German shore positions. She returned to England to refuel, but returned to Normandy to continue shore bombardment and engage German u-boats. She assisted in the bombardment of Cherbourg where she was struck by an enemy shell which failed to detonate. Escort and screening duties completed, she departed for the States for an upgrade before transiting to the Pacific. She arrived in the Pacific on 5 November 1944 and resumed screening, escort and shore bombardment duties in and around the Philippines. In the Iwo Jima Campaign, she screened the carriers providing direct air support to the Marines. She was assigned to the Okinawa Campaign to bombard shore establishments, harass the enemy with fire at night and screen heavy units. On 16 April 1945, the Laffey was on aviation picket duty approximately 30 miles north of Okinawa when she helped repulse an aerial attack which downed 13 enemy aircraft. The next day the Japanese launched a 50-plane attack. The Laffey was struck by six kamikazes and four bombs, but incredibly survived. She was severely damaged, had 32 killed and 71 wounded. When asked if they were going to abandon ship, her skipper, Captain Frederick Julian Becton famously answered "No! I'll never abandon ship as long as a single gun will fire." This effectively ended the Laffey's WWII combat service. She was repaired and went on to see further service in the Korean war and then the Cold War. She was decommissioned in 1975 and became a museum ship. This ensign is a unique opportunity to acquire a flag from a WWII ship still extant. A perfect flag for a WWII, Naval War, Normandy or War in the Pacific collector.

    During WWII, the Laffey was awarded: the Navy Presidential Unit Citation; American Campaign Service Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one campaign star; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four campaign Stars; World War II Victory Medal; Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation; Philippine Liberation Medal and the Philippine Independence Medal. Additionally, her skipper was awarded the Navy Cross for saving his ship after the kamikaze attach.

    This flag was formerly in the collection of Dr. Clarence Rungee, and is accompanied by his original museum inventory sheet with identifying information.

    For those who did not receive a hard copy of the auction catalog, we present here the introductory comments and history of Dr. Rungee and his remarkable collection. If you scroll further, you will also find various contemporary newspaper articles, as well as a selection of the many letters of donation and transmittal which accompanied the collection and a categorization of the collection.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2019
    14th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 8
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 625

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