veterans of the Korean era served always within the long shadows cast by
you World War II sailors. We found pock - marks on the topside bulkheads
- scars from the battles fought while most of us were still in our
teens. We heard bits and pieces here and there - tales from the south
pacific - stories written by your courage and your tenacity - stories
written during weary hours at battle stations - stories of rescue and of
victorious battles and of moments of grief. We came to know in the years
following Korea what we had mostly sensed during night watches on the
bridge with green dots glowing and sonar’s “ping- ping- pinging” or from
the fantail watching the moon bobble like a bright cork on the horizon.
We came to know the USS Daly was indeed a scrapper, a fighting ship that
you men had served with honor during years of deadly challenges.
We took pride
in serving on the USS Daly (519), escorting the ammo ships to the combat
area, running with the carriers, waiting for planes to come back to
nest. But it was you men who pulled dangerous round- the- clock vigils
for days on end on the little gray fighter – the brave little destroyer
that distinguished herself time and again from New Guinea to Iwo Jima.
You are the ones who rode the Daly into those fierce battles in 1943,
‘44 and ‘45. It was you who rescued 168 men off the Brownson, eleven off
the Bismarck Sea, and in numerous other ways assisted sister ships in
distress. It was you who grieved the loss of three shipmates the day you
splashed a suicide plane into the water inches from the Daly’s port
side. Yes, you are the ones whose bravery inspired us and made us proud
to be Tin Can sailors. We only served inside the long shadows of your
courageous sacrifices; even so we revere the name Daly because we know
the honor that you brought to that little ship.
Now those who
helped bring the little champion out of mothballs in 1951 to again serve
in whatever way she was asked in defense of freedom, humbly yet proudly
salute you all and all your comrades who no longer answer to muster. To
you brave men one and all, we who followed in your wake express our
gratitude for your valorous service and sacrifices on behalf of freedom
for all of us. May the salty winds blow gently and the waves whisper
quietly, and may you know only smooth sailing for the rest of your days
until at last the foaming tides take you safely home.