The Once-Over


I received the following email from Wynn Laffey on July 24, 2006:

"Although I bear the name, I don't believe there is any family connection as my forebears arrived from England
   and not Ireland.  However, being a somewhat unusual name, someone in the family took note back in the 40's
when a poem was written about the Laffey's stand in the Pacific and published in the local paper (NYC?).  If
you are unaware of such a poem, I would be more than happy to retrieve it from storage and send you a copy.
I believe it was titled "The Once-Over" and is a moving tribute to the ship's crew and Captain.
Respectfully, Wynn Laffey"

Here is the retrieved  poem, obviously a tribute to the 459

The Once-Over 

The U.S.S. Laffey


When the long, hard wars are over
And the smoke has cleared away.
We will still talk of the Laffey---
And the night she made ‘em pay;
Just a game U.S. destroyer,
She tore in against a bunch
Of the huskiest opponents
And she gave ‘em punch for punch!

There were battleships and cruisers
All around her aft and fore…
What to do?  There was one answer
Go in swinging from the floor.!
It was death, and well she knew it,
And she never had a chance,
But before the foemen got her
How she kicked’em in the pants. 

First she charged a heavy cruiser;
As she grazed it by ten feet
She was like a blooming taxi
In a reckless driving meet;
She got in such close quarters
That her startled, dizzy foe
Thought it couldn’t be authentic
And must be a picture show.
Then some dreadnaughts she encountered-
‘Twas enough to raise her hairs,
But the Laffey had a system—
She just took them on in pairs!
Enemy destroyers also
Came to join the growing din
But she rolled right down the alley
and yelled “Set ‘em up agin!” 

Bulldog in a cage of lions---
What a mess of ‘em she made!
Yes, she had to die to do it,
But the lady made the grade!
There were no laughs on the Laffey;
Grim and bitter was the show---
But I figure there is laughter
Where the great stout-hearted go. 

John Paul Jones and Captain Lawrence---
Farragut and Fighting Bob,---
I can hear their laughter ringing
As they greet each Laffey gob;
Not the laughter of amusement---
Not the laughter of good fun---
But the laughter of the valiant
When the bitter job’s well done

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