Francis Charles Flaherty, born 15 March 1919 in Charlotte, Mich., enlisted in the Naval Reserve 6 July 1940, and was appointed ensign 12 December 1940. Serving in Oklahoma (BB-37), he sacrificed his life in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941, when as his ship was being abandoned, he remained in a turret holding a flashlight so that all of his men could see to escape. For this supreme devotion to duty, Ensign Flaherty was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
(DE-135: dp. 1,200; l. 306'; b. 36'7"; dr. 8'7"; s. 21 k.; cpl. 186; a. 3 3", 3 21" tt., 8 dcp., 1 dcp.(hh.), 2 dct.; cl. Edsall)
Flaherty (DE-135) was launched 17 January 1943 by Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex.; sponsored by Mrs. J. J. Flaherty, sister-in-law of Ensign Flaherty; and commissioned 26 June 1943, Lieutenant Commander M. W. Firth in command.
Between 4 September 1943 and 15 February 1944, Flaherty made three voyages from the east coast to Casablanca on convoy escort duty. At Norfolk on 7 March 1944, she joined the hunter-killer group formed around Guadalcanal (CVE-60), sailing for a patrol which took her group across to Casablanca. On the return passage, off Madeira on 9 April, Flaherty fired in the action which sank U-515, for which she shared in the credit with three other escorts and carrier aircraft.
Returning to New York 27 April 1944, Flaherty rejoined the Guadalcanal group at Norfolk 10 May, and 5 days later sailed on a patrol which was to win the task group a Presidential Unit Citation. On 4 June, in a well-planned and executed operation, her group captured intact 17-505. The only capture by American forces of a German submarine on the high seas during the war, this dramatic operation provided essential intelligence for future antisubmarine warfare. Flaherty's role during the action was close screening for Guadalcanal, from which the attack and seizure were directed. She returned to New York from this patrol 22 June.
Between 15 July 1944 and 7 November, Flaherty completed two more hunter-killer patrols with the Guadalcanal group, then served as school ship for the Naval Training Center at Miami. Training in the Caribbean with carriers followed, until she sailed from Mayport, Fla., 9 April for Argentia, Newfoundland. This was her base for duty on the barrier line established in the last months of the European phase of the war to prevent desperate U-boats from penetrating the western Atlantic. On 24 April, Frederick C. Davis (DE-136) was torpedoed while investigating a submarine contact, and Flaherty dashed to rescue her survivors. After three men had been taken on board, Flaherty picked the submarine up by' sonar, and moved in to attack. Seven other escorts joined her in the 10-hour hunt, which resulted in forcing U-546 to the surface, where she was sunk by gunfire. She recovered five of the U-boat's survivors, including the commanding officer.
Flaherty returned to New York 11 May 1945, and 2 weeks later sailed on convoy escort duty to Le Havre and Southampton. She returned to duty guarding carriers training off Norfolk and Charleston until arriving at Green Cove Springs, Fla., 12 January 1946. There she was decommissioned and placed in reserve 17 June 1946.
In addition to the Presidential Unit Citation, Flaherty received four battle stars for World War II service.