Some heroes live in the annals of history forever. Others just fade away, like the old soldier in General Douglas MacArthur's farewell speech on 19 April 1951. The USS Laffey (DD-724) and her crew are like the old soldier, fading away - but not quite yet.
Dubbed "The Ship that Wouldn't Die" by the late Rear Admiral Frederick Julian Becton in the title of his book recalling the Laffey's World War II history and the ferocious kamikaze attack that brought her momentary fame, the brave ship lived a long life until recently, when she faced another kind of peril: old age. Two World War II destroyers carried the name Laffey, after Civil War Medal of Honor recipient Bartlett Laffey. The first, DD-459, was lost in action off Guadalcanal in November 1942. The second Laffey was built under Becton's close supervision at Bath Iron Works and commissioned in 1944.