Letters from our Friends

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March 26, 2007

Dear Sonny and Ari,

I'm glad I could contribute to your search of crew member's photos. It made me feel good to see George Rusk's picture on the web site J Dad saved a lot of photos of his friends from the USS Owens. That was the ship he spent most of his time on during the war. But I haven't found a USS Owens association to pass them off to.

If I had known the Laffey association was so active and organized, I would have pushed my dad out the door to be involved in the work parties and reunions. Living clear over on the west coast was a factor for him. But also, because his time on the Laffey was so brief, he didn't get to know the crew as well as he would have liked to.

I viewed Patriot's Pointe on Earth Google and was just amazed. I could almost see you guys running around with your buckets of paint and sanders! It's an incredible accomplishment. The planning and hard work that went into preserving the Laffey made a real impression on me. And when viewing the Laffey website, one can tell that the two of you and all the crew thoroughly enjoy being involved with keeping her history alive.

Please accept this donation of $150 and spend it where the need is the most. Paint and sanders? And thank you for all the wonderful work you're doing.

Take care,

Laura McKagan
(daughter of Challen McCune,
Laffey crew member, 1945)



Dear Sonny,

We regret we will not be able to attend the reunion.  L.B. had heart surgery and a few complications and not able to make the trip.

He looks forward to the Laffey News and loves his crew members.  He was on the ship during the battle.

We attended some of the reunions and they were wonderful. 

Best regards,
L.B. and Fredine McBryde
7000 West Deer Run
Pine Bluff, AR  71603

Mr. (Laffey) President Walker,

Enclosed is a check for $20.00 for the 4 tickets.

I also want to thank you, and the other officers and staff, for doing a great job for the Laffey Association.  Also the people that come out for the
work parties.

Also enclosed is a check for $100 for the work parties.  Have a beer on me and thanks again.

May God bless you all.

Frank Laskowski
WWII and Plankowner

Dear Sonny,

I'm sorry that my wife and I will not be able to attend the October Reunion due to my Parkinson's condition.  It has really slowed me down.

I will miss attending as I have the last few reunions because of my condition.

I say Hello to those still attending from my unit - on that attack day.


Bill Schmidt

Note from webmaster:  Bill was a MM3/c on board April 16, 1945

Dear Mr. Walker, 
My name is Michelle Doniphan and I am a teacher in the Charleston County School District. This past April (during the week of your work party), my Fifth grade students and I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting three of the Laffey's most dedicated seamen. I wanted to write to you and share our remarkable and warm memories of that day. 
As we approached the Laffey, we were greeted by the most gentle smile we had ever seen. It was Mr. Jim Spriggs. He greeted us with open arms and proceeded to ask us about our visit upon the Laffey. We explained that we were from a local elementary school and were completing one of the "Scavenger Hunts" during our field trip. Mr. Spriggs patiently listened to our questions. He started explaining what each answer was in the most endearing and thoughtful and attentive manner. My students and I were immediately interested in the stories and history that we were learning about.  
During that time, Mr. Bob Hill and Mr. Richard McKinney came up to help us better comprehend the magnitude of taking care of "her." They explained that men from all over came back to Charleston each year to restore her for future generations to see. In their eyes, I could tell that the memories they were sharing with us were heartrending.
And as we stood there, the Scavenger Hunt lost all importance. We were enthralled in these three men's encounters with war. My students were listening to first-hand accounts of what they only saw at a distance on TV. As a young teacher myself, (I'm only 29) I learned so much during that hour that no textbook could ever teach. A new sense of reverence came over me. There could not have been a better moment in time and in opportunity than to be standing there sharing it with my students. 
I walked away that day knowing that my life had changed forever. My students walked away with the realization that war is by no means "glorious" as so many see on TV with the "good guys beating the bad guys." My students actually stopped and shared with me as we were leaving that those men who had served and were still serving had wives and children and grandchildren and mothers and fathers who all had to be without them during the wars. They, beyond a shadow of a doubt, had learned exactly what I did. That these men were true heroes and had made it back from some of the worst times in history to be able to share their stories with us. What a remarkable understanding these children developed in a little over an hour. I knew that I could never do that within the classroom. This was the lesson that every teacher dreams about. 
Saying all of this, I hope that you know how touched our lives were by this encounter. I have no connection to any type of military. None of my immediate family has ever joined. But, I joined the Laffey Association to help share the love and respect for "her." As Mr. Hill put it so eloquently when asked, "Why are you here year after year?" His reply, "Because she brought us home." 
Thank you for all that you do to help protect our generations to not see what you have, but to share your experiences so that history doesn't repeat itself.
God Bless You,


 Dear Sonny and fellow Laffey shipmates, 

    My name is Denise Poole, Doug Carver's grand-daughter.  I am sorry to say that He passed away shortly after my husband's first e-mail to the Laffey association.  I want to apologize to everyone who has inquired about his condition for not writing sooner.  Frankly, It was just too painful.  I can not put into words how enormously touched I was to receive so many eloquent and heartfelt e-mails from people I had never met and maybe never will. 

    My grand-father was an extra-ordinary man, a fact I was only just becoming aware of shortly before his death.  One of the most amazing things that I became aware of at his funeral was that the church family that he was so devoted to and close to never even new he was in the war, much less that he was a survivor of one of the most incredible battles in naval history.  They didn't know that he had received a citation for courage and valor under fire.  To me he was a hero, one of many on that day, but none of them knew.  Many in our family didn't know.  That's because he never talked about it.  He didn't feel like a hero and would never have used that word to describe himself.  He was a man who did what was needed at the time.  It was as simple as that.  He saw his buddies die that day and he lived from that day forward like he was living on borrowed time.  Borrowed from God that is.  He had been spared for a purpose and that purpose would not be fully realized until his death.  My grand-father was not highly educated.  He only attended the fourth grade.  He was not a rich man.  He came from a very poor family, but he worked every day of his life until he became ill as a self employed painter.  He saved nearly every dime he ever made, always conscience of where he came from. He was completely sold out to the Lord.  He gave his money to the church, worked on the building for nothing,  taught Sunday school, sung in the choir, and visited the sick in the hospital.  He never wasted a minute, much less a day.  He gave and gave and gave, Yet he never knew how many lives he had blessed.  I can't tell you the countless people who came up to me to tell a story of what my papa had done for them. 

    If he knew that I was writing this he would not want me to waste this opportunity on simply bragging about him.  While his story is a moving one there is only one thing that he would want you to know.  That God loves you. He loves us all no matter where we've been or what we've done. That despite how little you feel you have to offer, God can do great things with a willing heart.  That it is never to late to come to Christ.  That even if you only have one day left you can give it to Him.  And that, You don't have to be someone smart, rich, well-known or well-connected to make a difference in someone's life.

    To all the men who served that day and every day since, I give my sincerest thanks.  I am only one of many who have been blessed by your service and your sacrifice.  

        May God bless and keep you all.   

Denise Poole 


Note:  There will be an extra bonus for those attending the reunion.  Michelle and her husband, Chris, will be joining the festivities.