"Just a piddly 'poom,'" was how the commander of the USS Laffey, one of the ships participating in Operation Crossroads, described the first atomic blast. The second detonation, however, was "an awe-inspiring thing."
In June 1945, two months after USS Laffey (DD-724) survived perhaps the most ferocious mass kamikaze attack of World War II, the destroyer got a new skipper, then-Commander Odale D. "Muddy" Waters. Earlier in the war, Waters served as officer in charge of the Navy's mine disposal school, gunnery officer on board USS Memphis (CL-13) in the Atlantic, and as a Fourth Fleet and Atlantic Fleet staff officer.
The heavily damaged Laffey was undergoing repairs at Todd Shipyard in Seattle, Washington, when Commander Waters took command. She finally left the facility on 6 September 1945, made her way to San Diego, and then to Hawaii. The following account of Waters" experiences related to Operation Crossroads is adapted from his U.S. Naval Institute oral history and was previously published in the July 1986 issue of Proceedings.