On the 26th of June, LAFFEY arrived in Gaeta for a five day
visit. Gaeta is a small resort town halfway between Rome and Naples and many Laffeymen
spent their liberty in Rome. During our stay the ship was open to visits by the
public. From one of our visitors, an American studying medicine in Rome, we learned
of the plight of 32 small children at the Maranol Orphanage. Their institution
received no support from the state and the Catholich Church was able to supply only
minimum necessities. Laffeymen responded spontaneously and in the short
space of four hours raised over $1,000 among the approximately 250 officers and men of the
crew. On 30 June the children, their priest and nuns were brought aboard for a party
and were presented with a check for $1,000.
As a result of deep personal interest of the crew for the children it was
decided to try to return to Gaeta and repair, paint and do whatever else we could with Laffeymen
volunteering their many various skills. A request through Comdesron 32, Comcrudiv 4
and Comsixthflt resulted in a change to our schedule and gave Laffey four
additional days in Gaeta from 29 July to 2 August. During thes four days many Laffeymen
worked at the orphanage for 15 hours per day repairing, painting, plastering and
installing playground equipment built by Laffeymen. Word of the "Laffey
Project" soon circulated amongst the local populace and despite the language
barrier Laffeymen found themselves with more real friends in this one small town
than some ships have in the entire Mediterranean area.
Translation of article from
"The Messengea of Lattma"