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O’Flaherty

 

Frank Woodrow O’Flaherty, born in Tonopah, Nev., 26 February 1918, entered the U.S. Naval Reserve on 25 September 1940 and was appointed Aviation Cadet 27 January 1941. He was commissioned Ensign, USNR, 12 September 1941 and ordered to active duty in carrier Scouting Squadron 6, attached to Enterprise (CV–6). As pilot of an airplane of Squadron VS–6 in the Battle of Midway, he participated in the devasting assault against the Japanese invasion fleet. Killed in action, 4 June 1942, pressing home his attacks in the face of a formidable barrage of anti-aircraft fire and fierce fighter opposition, he was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism.

 

(DE–340; dp. 1,600; l. 306’; b. 36’7”; dr. 13’4”; s. 24.3 k.; epl. 222; a. 2 5”, 10 40mm; cl. John C. Bulter)

 

O’Flaherty (DE–340) was laid down by Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex., 4 October 1943; launched 14 December 1943; sponsored by Ensign Lavada M. O’Flaherty, N.N.C., sister of Ens. O’Flaherty; and commissioned 8 April 1944, Lt. Comdr. D. W. Farnham in command.

 

After shakedown off Bermuda in May and June 1944, O’Flaherty accompanied battleship New York (BB–34) to Trinidad, B.W.I., then transited the Panama Canal and steamed, via San Diego, to Pearl Harbor. She escorted Rudyerd Bay (CVE–81) to Majuro 20–26 July. The remainder of that month was spent shepherding merchantmen to Eniwetok via Tarawa.

 

From Eniwetok she screened escort carrier Santee (CVE–29) to Guam. There she witnessed her first action becoming involved in operation “Forager”, the invasion and reoccupation of Guam through the power of the mighty Pacific fleet.

 

Leaving Guam she returned to Eniwetok for a long stint on the “Milk-Run”, escorting convoys between Eniwetok and Manus. At midnight 3–4 October O’Flaherty was directed to proceed on a 600 mile dash in search of the survivors of a PBM crashed at sea, and with the aid of search planes located and rescued the 12 crew members approximately 48 hours later.

 

On 26 October, with the installation of new CIC equipment, O’Flaherty was made a unit of Escort Division 64, formed as a hunter-killer group with Corregidor (CVE–58) to check out reported enemy submarine movements between Pearl Harbor and California. Later she operated with Makassar Strait (CVE–91) and with Wake Island (CVE–65) in similar operations.

 

In January 1945 O’Flaherty served in the Lingayen Gulf Attack Force exposed to frequent kamikaze raids.

 

Following the Lingayen operation, O’Flaherty retired to Ulithi. Gathering there was one of the greatest displays of Naval might in the world. O’Flaherty was shifted to the 5th Fleet. From 10 February through 14 March her carriers supported the Iwo Jima invasion with air strikes and provided aerial spotters for the big guns of the battleships and cruisers. Many ships suffered damage during the operation, but O’Flaherty’s Irish luck held out.

 

Two days before Iwo Jima was declared secure, on 16 March, O’Flaherty departed to participate in the invasion of Okinawa. As a unit of TG 52.1, Destroyer Division 120, she screened the Amphibious Support Force comprised of CVE task units. Here on 2 April she drew her first blood.

 

As a “Zeke” was making its suicide run into the formation, O’Flaherty brought it down with her after 40mm guns. The following day when two of the raiders made screaming dives for Wake Island, one struck her near the waterline. A third just missed a screening destroyer and O’Flaherty’s fire drove off a fourth to be brought down by Navy fighters.

 

O’Flaherty participated in the Okinawa operation from 21 March to 22 June except for a short period, in April undergoing repairs at Guam. She then performed picket and auxiliary escort duty until the Japanese surrender. Afterwards she operated out of Guam until receiving orders to return to the states late in 1945.

 

O’Flaherty operated off California until she decommissioned at San Diego in January 1947. Into 1970 she remains in reserve berthed at Mare Island, Vallejo, California.

 

O’Flaherty received four battle stars for World War II service.