USS Laffey DD-459
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Oct. 2, 2022

My father, Kenneth C. Fitzgibbons, was a sailor of the beach party on Guadalcanal from early September 1942 until the end of February 1943. He was supposed to lay anti-submarine nets, but the nets were never landed.
Instead he was taught how to drive a landing craft.

He said another sailor who was reassigned asked him if he wanted to take over the landing craft the departing sailor was operating. Fitzgibbons was taught to operate the Higgins boat in a day. After the night battle of November 13-14, 1942, the next morning, he went out to pick up survivors. He said he saw the USS Portland steaming in circles and firing upon a Japanese vessel across Iron Bottom Sound. He said suddenly the Japanese ship blew up in an enormous explosion.

He said he saw a sailor, waving on Savo Island, and went to pick him up. He said the sailor was covered with oil and was hard to identify as American. The sailor told him he was a carpenter's mate on the USS Laffey. The sailor told him he had been below decks, when suddenly he found himself in the water due to an enormous explosion. The rescued sailor said he was a long way from land and that he felt something under water touch his legs. At first he said he thought it was a shark, but then the sailor said 'it' started pushing him in the direction of Savo Island and it pushed him all the way there. The sailor said he had a cut on his buttocks from this.

My father did not mention the sailor's name, but I did research that one of the carpenter's mates on the USS Laffey survived, the other was one of the 59 crewmen killed.

Michael Fitzgibbons MD
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Page published Nov. 1, 2017