Courtesy of Bob Wampler


  LAFFEY NEWS       



                           Dedicated to those who served in Battle…and those that Preserve in Peace


April – May – June                                                                                                                                       2009





Spring is “springing-up all over”, at least in my part of the country. Fear not all of you from the Far North, Spring will be here soon.

I wish I could tell everyone that the ship is headed for dry dock repairs but it hasn’t happened yet. As of this writing, March 31, 2009, the latest info from General Tant is as follows:

“On Laffey, we are still hopeful. Sen. Graham sent SECNAV a letter on our behalf last Friday for help. Standing by and asking everyone else to send contributions. I (Gen. Tant) testified for 35 minutes before the Senate Finance subcommittee and they are supportive and said they want to visit. Also we are getting her ready to move in August if funds are available.

Please keep help coming.

All the best,”



I also spoke with Doug Bostick of Patriots Point. Doug is in charge of the “Save the Laffey fund”. They are trying to get our story on nationwide radio and TV. These people are working very hard to save our ship.

The latest condition report is not the best. They have removed a lot of decking, pipes, etc. from the forward fire room to gain better access to the bilges and the ship’s bottom. The keel and many of the ribs are rusted away. The weight of the boilers is putting a lot of pressure on the very, very thin bottom and the boilers are in danger of falling through. They are coming up with ways to add structural steel supports from the sides of the ship to the boilers to relieve the pressure.

We are really sick about the work parties being cancelled this year but the ship really isn’t safe enough to turn us loose with chipping hammers!! Cherie already told me that I had to leave and give her the weeks off that she always gets several times each year while I’m away at the work parties. Hudak and I recently went to Florida and played golf with the Harhagers. Cher says thanks to Dave and Judy. Seriously though, let’s keep hoping and praying that the money comes through before the boilers “FALL THROUGH”.

On a happy note, the reunion is on schedule. Gemma McLuckie and Jill Michel have done a great job setting up the reunion this year.

We’ll be getting the chances out for the ship model soon. This model is now worth $1,500.00.The proceeds will go to the Save the Laffey Fund. You can also request more than the 4 chances that we normally send you. Give me a call, send me a  

letter, send an e-mail or send a pigeon carrier request and I’ll see that you get more ship’s model raffle tickets!

See you in Branson!!

Sonny Walker, President





President Sonny Walker has been advised by Tom Sprowl that ALL WORK PARTIES FOR 2009 HAVE BEEN CANCELLED.  Safety concerns by Patriots Point personnel have necessitated this cancellation.  The USS Laffey is also closed to all visitors due to the recent circumstances onboard. We do not know what the future fate of the Laffey is as of this writing/printing.



The Friday March 27th edition of Charleston’s Post and Courier newspaper contained the following article:

11 workers idled at Patriots Point

The Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum has cut 11 full time employees and reduced part-time staffing, citing a decline in attendance and gift shop sales plus emergency repairs to the destroyer Laffey.

The approximately 70 remaining full-time employees must take a four-day furlough by June 30. Patriots Point officials recently announced that they are seeking about $64 million for repairs and improvements to keep the attraction thriving.”


Patriots Point needs $64.4M to help keep vessels, museum afloat

By Robert Behren
The Post and Courier
Saturday, February 21, 2009

USS Yorktown

Hull repairs below the waterline; new paint job; electrical upgrades; flight deck repairs; coffer dam.   
$34 million   

USS Clamagore

NEEDS: Permanent seals on its sea openings, possible relocation to a new display site on land.
PRICE TAG: $5 million

USCGC Ingham

NEEDS: The oldest Patriots Point ship is the one in the best shape. Still, she needs a thorough survey and repair package.
PRICE TAG: $2.7 million

USS Laffey

NEEDS: Extensive hull work in dry dock to stop increasing seepage and leaks.
PRICE TAG: $7.7 million


MOUNT PLEASANT — The four warships forming the heart of the Patriot's Point Naval & Maritime Museum were designed to last about 30 years — if they weren't sunk in combat first. They not only survived their wars but have lived twice as long as ever envisioned.

But today, the lap of “Lowcountry” tides and its salty air pose as significant a threat as the enemy once

did, and museum officials are seeking about $64.4 million for overdue repairs and other improvements that would ensure the ships survive and the attraction thrives. Some of the money would clear the way for a new hotel and convention complex on the water, near where the gift shop now stands.

The destroyer's hull is rotting away, having sprung leaks at least five times in recent months. The submarine Clamagore and cutter Ingham also need millions of dollars of work. Even the concrete pier leading to the ships, built when the Yorktown arrived here in 1975, needs replacing.

John Hagerty, chairman of Patriot Point Development Authority, said the board feels a duty to get the word out about the long-range problems and opportunities. "These numbers are large. We need to get help to decide how exactly to go about accomplishing our mission," he said Friday. "To be quite frank, there may be some very hard decisions ahead as far as what can be done and what can't be done."

Patriots Point officials face a key hurdle Tuesday, as they seek permission from the S.C. Budget and Control Board to spend $456,000 on repair surveys and design work and $482,000 more to replace the concrete pier. The authority wants to begin those studies now even though it's unsure exactly where it will find the $64 million to complete the work.

Retired Brig. Gen. Hugh Tant, Patriot Point's executive director, said the authority has an $8

million budget with no power to borrow and little other financial wiggle room. It plans to seek donations from the private sector, including the defense companies that built the ships, as well as from veteran's groups.

And it will turn its eye to the federal government in hopes of getting some grants or other help, such as a slice of the new $787 billion stimulus bill.

"We do have shovel-ready projects. We can stop the bleeding. We can put people back to work. We can save these ships," Tant said.

The Intrepid, a retired aircraft carrier that has been made into a museum in New York Harbor, recently underwent a $110 million repair job, $40 million of which came from the federal government.

While most of the $64 million will go to maintain the ships, the request also includes about $10 million for a new 20,000 square foot building that would include museum space, an eating area and an expanded gift shop.

The existing gift shop and ticket office would be razed, and its land — plus the land of the nearby parking lot — could be marketed for redevelopment as a 400-room hotel and conference center, Tant said. A new parking area would be built further inland for $3 million.

Patriots Point is interested in pursuing that redevelopment —and new development on several smaller waterfront parcels nearby — but the ship maintenance won't be paid for with proceeds from those deals, Hagerty said. He said Patriots Point officials already have met with several state lawmakers, U.S. Reps. Henry Brown and Jim Clyburn and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and have received some encouraging words.

Brown's office said Friday he is encouraged that the leadership is coming up with an action plan to address the ships' maintenance and to improve the attraction's appeal. "As Patriots Point is greatly in need of these funds, local, state and federal partners must come together with private-sector supporters and South Carolina citizens to ensure that the museum continues to play its important role of educating visitors about the sacrifices made by past generations.




The following shipmates and/or USS Laffey Association members and their close relatives have been transferred to a better duty station:

John R. McBrinn, RD2, Life Member
Served Aboard 1959-1962
Passed Away Unexpectedly on October 16, 2008

Andrew (Andy) Klein, RM3, Life Member
Served Aboard 1944-1945
Passed Away February 28, 2009

Please take a moment in silence to honor and reflect upon the memories of those who have passed away.  May the departed rest in peace.



The following update was recently provided to Sonny and is intended to provide current information on our ship’s condition and its potential future.


I thought you might appreciate an update on our progress with the Laffey.

Through March 4, 2009, Patriots Point has received 336 individual donations totaling $30,686.00 from residents of 44 of the 50 states. While this has been helpful, we need to dramatically increase this. I’m formulating a strategy now to conduct a National Campaign to save our ships. One plan is to make an appeal to veterans of all destroyers, but the vets from Sumner Class Destroyers in particular. We’re developing this database now and I’d like to make this appeal jointly from you as the Laffey Association President and General Tant. Let me know your thoughts on this.  Of course it is helpful for you and your members to keep up the chatter, emails, and calls.  By next week we will have a hot link on the home page of our website to donate for the ship. This should help.

Please feel free to call or email at any time with any thoughts/questions/recommendations/concerns. Hugh sends his warm regards and said to tell you that we are fully committed to this fight. As always, we appreciate all of your support. 

Doug Bostick

Development Director
Patriots Point



EDITOR’S COMMENT: The below shown letter from Bill Blackstock’s daughter, Anna, was sent to Sonny Walker on March 27th 2009. We are printing a copy in this issue of the Laffey News so that many of you who were his shipmates in the sixties and others might consider taking a few minutes to send a note or card to Bill.  I’m certain he and Anna would appreciate your kindness.

“Hello Family and Friends,

It’s been a while since I updated all of you about Daddy.  Today is his 88th birthday, and I took a few pictures at lunch today so I thought I’d share with you all them. 

Generally, he’s in pretty good shape for the shape he’s in:  The Alzheimer’s continues to progress,

but the blood problem (myelodysplasia) seems to have leveled off for a while.  His hemoglobin isn’t dropping like it did before, hanging around 11 (normal is 13-15).  He has been under hospice care for about a year, not because he’s at death’s door, but because we don’t know when the myelodysplasia will suddenly hit him like a ton of bricks.

He has become pretty much a total recluse, only leaving his suite for meals, doctor appointments, haircuts, etc.  The folks at Eden Gardens tell me that he occasionally will take a walk out to the courtyard in good weather, but he doesn’t participate in any of the group activities or social gatherings.  His dreadfully poor hearing is his second biggest enemy, after the Alzheimer’s.

I’ve had to start intercepting his mail, because he was sending in orders for things and then throwing away the bills that came for them.  (The folks at Eden Gardens have been very helpful with that!)  And I’ve taken all the sharp objects I could find (scissors, nail clippers, etc.) because he has ruined some of his clothes in an effort to remove buttons or make shorts out of long pants.  (There’s a nurse who clips his finger and toe nails, so don’t worry about that!

I know Daddy would enjoy hearing from you occasionally.  If you would like to write to him, you can address him at Eden Gardens or at my house:

Bill Blackstock                                            Bill Blackstock
Eden Gardens                                            c/o Ann Hall
840 Lecroy Drive #118            or              
2931 Meade Circle
Marietta, GA 30067                                    
Marietta, GA  30067





Come one………. Come all……….Come all y’all (a little Southern lingo). Once again it’s time to get up from your Lazyboy recliners, wonder into the kitchen, grab a pen, sit at the table and fill out the reunion reservation form that can be found “a couple of pages back” from these comments.

Gemma McLuckie and Jill Michael have worked very hard to come up with a wonderful program for our reunion this October.

We’re going to Branson!! Many of you are aware that this is a great travel destination that includes tremendous entertainment, numerous dining options, and so very much to do and often it’s all within walking distance of our hotel.

Branson is a terrific family trip destination and we would like to encourage each of you to consider bringing other family members with you to our reunion. Not only would they have an enjoyable time while in Branson, but they would also experience the camaraderie that we Laffey Association members would extend to them. It would also provide an opportunity for the family members to become aware of the love and devotion we have for our ship and, who knows, maybe they might want to continue the ship’s legacy by becoming members themselves.

The special room rate at the hotel is good for three days before and after the reunion.  Bring as many family members as you can “stuff” into your cars, planes, buses, or RV’s…..Make this trip more than your reunion: Make it a family vacation!






The Baldknobbers Jamboree celebrates their 50-year anniversary of music and comedy shows in 2009.

The Welk Resort Theatre has added a brand new show featuring Lee Greenwood and The Bellamy Brothers to the fall line-up.

Andy William’s Moon River Theatre welcomes Righteous Brother Bill Medley, Paul Revere & The Raiders and The Original Comets. 

The Haygoods, Tony Roi plus Red, Hot & Blue move to the New Americana Theatre. The Haygoods have added a fourth show in 2009:  “Cassandré – The Voice of An Angel,” with a full production show of pop, Broadway and classical songs backed by a full 10-piece orchestra.

RedHead Express has a new show at the Circle B Chuckwagon where you’ll enjoy Roots music Reborn! They've just come off a winter tour of the South and the Appalachian Mountains, bringing with them a new producer, a new CD, and a new sound!

The Mansion Theatre presents Cathy Rigby in Peter Pan, the Emmy Award winning, Tony Award nominated Broadway production May-December

The Osmonds will be returning to Branson again! They will be appearing in the Osmond Theatre, which is owned by Jimmie Osmond, and are scheduled to return for a limited engagement at the theatre from Sept. 4 through Dec. 12. 

Throughout the season, the Osmond Theatre will feature the “Magnificent Variety Show” starting in the spring. The cast of the Magnificent Variety Show is made up of the same performers who played at the White House Theatre last year.

#1 Hits of the 60's Show has moved to the Caravelle Theatre (next door to the Jim Stafford Theatre) on the famed Highway 76 with an all-new show. Hear your favorite great music from the 60's decade and more.

Mary Duff co-stars with Daniel O’Donnell, and then in her own show for limited dates in May. Already famous in Ireland, Mary has a growing US fan base due to her PBS appearances and multi-city world tours with O’Donnell.

The cast of Country Tonite will soon welcome two new star performers, Collin Raye and Debby Boone.

The Mansion Media and Entertainment Center is proud to announce Johnny Mathis, T.G. Sheppard and Englebert Humperdink who will all perform two shows at The Mansion Theater

Merle Haggard with special guest Gene Watson ... Legendary artists join forces for one great evening of entertainment – the “Okie from Muskogee” singing some of his many hits, “Fightin’ Side of Me’, “Mama Tried”, “If  We Make Through December”.  Gene Watson best known for such hits as “Love in the Hot Afternoon”, “Farewell Party” and “Fourteen Karat Mind” rounds out the evening.

Country Music Hall of Fame member Ray Price is in his 6th decade of providing the finest quality of recorded country music for his friends and fans and is scheduled to perform in Branson at the Tri-Lakes Center September 3, 4, 5, 17, 18, 19  and October 8, 9, 10.

Mel Tillis returns to Branson to perform at the Tri-Lakes Center November 3 – 28, 2009 Join country music legend, Mel Tillis and his award winning band The Statesiders. Mel presents classic country and gospel hits from his 50 year career in country music. Along the way he'll share humorous stories.

Roy Clark, along with his band Roy’s Toys and featured guest Justin David, is back in Branson for a limited engagement. Among his numerous vocal hits are Yesterday, When I Was Young, If I Had To Do It All Over Again, Greyhound and more this is one show you want to be sure and see. The dates are September 26 – 30 and October 20-21. 8:00 pm.

Wedding Italiano opens this June in Branson Landing. In this hilarious interactive comedy, the audience is part of the show. As “invited guests” the audiences begin the evening witnessing the holy nuptials. Following the ceremony, a rousing reception takes place. Dancing, champagne toasts, a full pasta dinner and of course, a slice of the wedding cake are provided. Come be part of the Family!

The Payne Stewart Golf Club is a tribute course honoring the Springfield, Mo., native and golf legend. Located just minutes from Branson Landing, the course will hold a grand opening in May.




During the past several months we have been contacted by several association members who have expressed their feelings that there might be an alternative approach to the ship’s longevity at Patriots Point. What follows is a letter dated Jan. 30, 2009 from Robert J. Klimesh who resides in Fort Atkinson, IA:

It is of great concern to all of us as crew members of the Laffey that the problem of water-tight integrity puts the Laffey in peril.

We all have memories of voyages and adventures while onboard the ship.  Some of us fought for their very lives on the decks of our beloved ship. We (I and others) made a world cruise in 1953. I was a crew member aboard the Laffey December 52 to August 55.

I don’t know what the answer is, but the following crossed my mind the other day:

Could the ship be placed somewhere on dry land at Patriots Point where water leaks wouldn’t be a problem? Maybe a berm could be built around the Laffey near its present location. Remaining water could be pumped out and dirt could be filled-in.

Sounds simple enough but I suspect there would be engineering “tricks” to perform to get the job done…..Just a thought.

Maybe the ship could be lowered a few feet: When I was there in ’06 during the reunion I couldn’t help but notice how high she was in the water, what with no fuel, no ammo, and no crew members to weigh her down. She always sat lower than it has been in the museum situation.

Hope some magic can be done to save her. Future generations need to view and appreciate our older war ships.

Robert Klimesh
Laffey Crew 52-55

Take care and God bless.



It should be noted that this approach and another that involves possibly placing the ship in a concrete cradle have been suggested by many members.  At this point, none of us are in a position to provide a definite solution to the water leakage issues on the USS Laffey. We hope to be able to inform you all of a reasonable engineered approach to the problem shortly.



Our Association Treasurer, George Kessler, submitted a fourth quarter report to Sonny and Board Members:

The USS Laffey Association remains a financially viable organization. We made a sizeable donation to the Save the Laffey Fund at Patriots Point in the hope that this contribution would allow the officials at Patriots Point to know how deeply saddened we are about the condition of the ship and how badly we want her to be repaired.

We would like to thank those who have sent a donation to the fund thus far and hope that others will join in the fight to “save the Laffey”, The Ship That Would Not Die! Our donations do matter.


Ship's Store

Ships Store - as we have known of it in the past - no longer exists.  In place of maintaining our own inventory
and charging shipping costs, we have made arrangements with KT Creations to provide us with various ship
store items.

Prices will be slightly higher.  However, the additional costs will be offset by (1) pricing will include
shipping and handling costs, (2) KT Creations will refund 12% of sales to the Association,
and (3) we will not have to invest money in maintaining an inventory.

Pricing for some typical items are:

Polo shirts with pocket






Polo shirt with your name on right side







Jacket-Navy blue, 100% nylon, flannel lined, snap front






Jacket with small ship design on back and name on front on right side.







Jacket, with large design on the back of the jacket. Smaller design on the front and name on the front included. Motto of "Ship that Wouldn't Die" on the back too







Sweatshirt-Navy blue, long sleeve pullover







Sweatshirt with name on right side







Ball cap-Navy with gold lettering and ship design
(the photo is $20 hat and of better quality)


$15 and a $20 one




Visit the website at: 
KT Creations  to view the merchandise and order: www.ktcreations.pages.qpg.com

If you are not comfortable ordering off the above website, mail your order by using the order form at a link found at the Laffey website: www.laffey.org PLEASE NOTE: MARY OF KT CREATIONS HAS INFORMED ALL ASSOCIATIONS SHE DEALS WITH OF OUR SHIP’S PLIGHT.




Call the Shore Patrol – the U.S.S. Laffey will soon be on a four-day liberty in Branson, Missouri! 

Join us Sunday-Wednesday, Oct. 4-7, 2009, as we explore the sights and delights of Branson, the entertainment capital you have heard so much about.

Cost: $140 per person (child or adult)*

            * Includes all sponsored activities. The association is providing a subsidy for each person to keep down your costs. We are sorry, but partial reservations are not possible.

            Reservation deadline: Sept. 4, 2009

            Mail checks, made out to the U.S.S. Laffey Association, to Gemma McLuckie, 2003 Tewksbury Road, Columbus, OH 43221


NEW – Refund Policy: Complete refunds will be made until Sept. 4. After that date, the Association must assess a $40 fee per person (this will recover the subsidy we provide for each participant).


            Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, 2820 West Highway 76, 417-334-7666 or (800) 725-2236 (www.clarionhotelbranson.com/)

            $79.99 plus tax per night (all rooms are non-smoking)


Amenities include:

Hospitality Room Free continental breakfast, Buckingham’s Prime Rib and Steakhouse, Sadie’s Sideboard, Oasis Lounge,

          Walk to 6 shows, shopping malls, miniature golf, go karts, Five premiere golf courses within 15 miles           

Air Travel

Springfield-Branson Regional Airport: non-stop jet service by American, United, Delta, and Northwest between nine major cities and hubs. 

Approximately 1 hour from hotel. Shuttle service available.

Branson Airport (BKG), due to open in May 2009. AirTran Airways. Free shuttle available. (www.flybranson.com/ and www.airtran.com/Home.aspx )



Sunday, Oct. 4:

            Registration at Clarion Hotel


Monday, Oct. 5, afternoon:

            Ride the Ducks’ Classic Table Rock Lake Adventure, a fun-filled amphibious sightseeing tour of Country Music Boulevard, views of the Ozarks and a Table Rock Lake cruise. (www.bransonducks.com/)

            (Please note, the ducks have several steps. Handicap access is available onto the vehicles at the Ducks home office, but is not available at the end of the tour. Reunion committee will provide directions to the home office.)

            The Ducks tour takes us to a Memorial Service to honor our fallen comrades.

            Following the service, we will board the Showboat Branson Belle for dinner and the Showstoppers, showcasing more than 30 award-winning numbers as we tour the crystal waters of Table Rock Lake. Suitable for all ages. (www.showboatbransonbelle.com/)

            Buses back to hotel


Tuesday, Oct. 6:

            Matinee at the Jim Stafford Show, which takes laughter to a new art form! He provides incredible portrayals of the human spirit and incredible guitar “pickin”. Suitable for all ages. (See www.jimstafford.com/). Taxis or private cars to the theater.

            Buffet dinner at the nearby Plantation following the show. Taxi or private cars back to the hotel.

Wednesday, Oct. 7:

            Free day to enjoy shopping, numerous sights, and shows.

            Buffet banquet in the Clarion Hotel Jungle Room, with DJ. Winners of raffles.


* Reunion fees include all activities sponsored by the Laffey Association. The association provides a subsidy for each person to keep down your costs. We are sorry, but partial reservations are not possible.

2009 Reunion Committee:

            Jill Michael

            Gemma McLuckie





Please note the following:

Make this reunion a family “affair”…bring them all to Branson with you!

The room rates are good for three days before and after the reunion. We suggest booking early and you should mention you are attending the USS Laffey reunion when making the room reservations.

Please note that we have a new refund policy for cancellation after September 4th. See the previous page for details.



Please notify the editor (Bob Wampler) of any change in your address and inform him of any spelling or numerical errors that are contained on your newsletter mailing label.  Changes and corrections should be sent to the editor whose address is shown on the back page of this and every edition of the Laffey News (or call and leave a message at 843-705-2296).  You should also include a new phone number if your address changed.

            Confederate Drive, Cynthiana, KY 41031.

            For membership questions please phone  Pete at (859)-234-2451.







 Edgar “Sonny” Walker…………….. President
Jim Cox…………………….......Vice President
George Kessler…………………….. Treasurer
Julie Becton………………………… Secretary
Lyle “Pete” Lacore…... Membership Chairman

Board of Directors

Ari Phoutrides……….. Asst. Website Manager
John Langevin
Francis LaSala
Jim Spriggs
John Hudak
Bob Wampler

Website Manager
A.J. Tarquino

Newsletter Staff
Bob Wampler…. Editor and Circulation Manager



The Laffey News is intended for distribution to active and life members of the USS Laffey DD724 Association and to those deemed to be honorary members. The latter does include surviving spouses. If you are unsure about your status, please contact Pete Lacore at 859-234-2451.








PLACE:  Clarion Hotel and Conference Center

               2820 West Highway 76 Branson, Mo. 65616



PHONE:    417-334-7666 or (800) 725-2236 


ROOM COSTS:  $79.99 plus tax per night (all rooms are non-smoking) 



YOUR NAME: _________________________________________ PHONE#_____________________________




E-MAIL ADDRESS: _________________________________________


YEARS SERVED ON BOARD: __________________________________


NAMES of GUESTS: _______________________________________, ______________________________________,


 _______________________________________, _______________________________________ (More? Attach List)


Number Attending Events (include children and adults) _______


All of the below shown events are included in the reunion fee. Please indicate those events that you will attend by a check mark.


Ride the Ducks’ Classic Table Rock Lake Adventure    ____    Handicap Accommodations? Yes    No (Circle One)

Memorial Service at Table Rock Lake    ____     

Showboat Branson Belle dinner and Showstoppers    ____     

Jim Stafford Show  ____     

Plantation Buffet Dinner  ____  

Final Buffet Banquet with DJ  ____ 


REUNION FEE: $140.00 PER PERSON (a flat fee whether you attend scheduled functions or not) DEADLINE: SEPT. 4, 2009

CANCELLATIONS: Complete refunds can be made until Sept. 4. After that date, the Association must assess a $40 fee per person
(This will recover the subsidy we provide for each participant).



Gemma McLuckie
2003 Tewksbury Road
Columbus, OH 43221

PHONE: 614-488-2201 (Evening)



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