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The United States Navy Memorial

Navy Memorial Honor, recognize, & celebrate the men and women of the sea services.

“Authors on Deck” – Hell from the Heavens the Epic Story of the USS Laffey and World War II's Greatest Kamikaze Attack

06/24/2015 12:00:00 pm
The United States Navy Memorial’s “Authors on Deck” book lecture series proudly welcomes John Wukovits as he presents his book:  Hell From the Heavens: The Epic Story of the USS Laffey and World War II’s Greatest Kamikaze Attack (Da Capo Press, 2015) On the morning of April 16, 1945, the USS Laffey was brutally attacked at Okinawa by twenty-two Japanese suicide aircraft. Thirty-two sailors died, over seventy were wounded, and the ship was gravely damaged. Despite the horrific eighty-minute attack, Laffey survived, earning the nickname “The Ship that Refused to Die.”
The assault on USS Laffey was the largest single-ship kamikaze attack of World War II. Clusters of kamikaze planes dove in from multiple directions, sending a ferocious barrage of Japanese gunfire into the besieged destroyer. When some planes found their mark, exploding fireballs and deadly shrapnel tore into Laffey—and crew. The crew shot down nine of twenty-two kamikaze planes, but not before vital parts of their ship were destroyed and too many American seamen had died. Despite the damage, the eviscerated ship managed to return home where the surviving crew members were hailed as heroes.
Acclaimed historian and military expert John Wukovits brings us back to that fateful day in Okinawa through personal interviews with survivors, memoirs of the crew, and letters written to and from the crew during the war.  The story serves as a lasting symbol of the Navy’s tenacity during WWII.
Following the presentation, Wukovits will be available for a Q&A session and book signing.
WHEN:   Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Cost: Free and open to the public
John F. Wukovits’s previous books include the highly praised One Square Mile of Hell, Pacific Alamo, and For Crew and Country. His work has appeared in numerous publications including WWII History, Naval History, and World War II. He lives in Trenton, Michigan.