Veterans go back in time on board the U.S.S. Laffey

By Stefanie

PATRIOTS POINT, S.C. (WCIV) - The U.S.S. Laffey held a special event on Saturday where visitors could meet some of the heroes who served onboard. Veterans came from across the country to celebrate homecoming weekend for 'The Ship That Would Not Die.'

Veterans Sonny Walker and Fred Nardei, who served on the U.S.S. Laffey back in the 1960's, said getting back on board was like taking a step back in time.

"It's like time has frozen and we are right back where we were," said Sonny Walker, Veteran and Laffey Association President.

"It's like coming home. It's like a homecoming," said Laffey Veteran, Fred Nardei.

A ship with so many memories, brought old friends back together on Saturday, friends that not only call each other shipmates, but also, brothers.

"The kind of bond we created, I don't think is something that happens today," Nardei said. "We are one family and when we get together we are right back in the 1960s."

"This is the other woman in our marriages when you feel her, she's alive, when we're aboard she comes to life," Walker said.

Visitors got personal guided tours of the ship from Veterans on Saturday and also got the chance to meet original World War II crew members who served on the ship.

"From 1943 to 1945, I put her in commission," said WW II Veteran, Daniel Essig Sr.

The U.S.S. Laffey's homecoming weekend is not only meant to honor all those who served onboard, but also to teach younger generations about the importance of the ship's history.

"People can just walk through and see a piece of metal," Walker said. "This ship helped preserve the history and the freedom that we have today, that we can enjoy today."

"This is history. This is the last of its kind of ship. The only one left in the world and it's important for people to see it."

On Sunday, Patriots Point is holding a ceremony on the U.S.S. Laffey that starts at 1 p.m. to honor the ship's Veterans. The Ceremony will feature a performance by the U.S. Marine Corps Band and laying of a commemorative wreath. The event is free and open to the public.