The USS Laffey was one of the destroyers in the 6th Fleet which patrolled the Gulf waters during the 1950's and 1960's. She was a frequent visitor to the port at Ras Tanura, and her arrival was always greeted with excitement.
The school classes would get a field trip to tour the ships, always ending up in the Mess Hall for ice cream, cartoons and other goodies from the States. If there was a band on board, then the school would organize a sock-hop for the junior high kids and the sailors (so what if there was still a significant age difference - everyone seemed to enjoy it anyway!). It was always a status symbol (at least among the girls) if you could talk someone into giving you their white sailor hat.
Any time a ship was in port, especially at a holiday, the families invited the men over for dinner. The officers usually ended up at the homes of the district mangers or someone who had Navy ties; the rest of us got the enlisted men. I remember one series of visits where the USS Laffey came to port several times in a row. We had the same group of men over each time, and became quite friendly with them. The last time they came was at Christmas, and one of the men brought a gift for my sister and me - a really nice leather purse for each of us from Italy. I wonder how long they carried those purses around before returning to Arabia again!
There was a row of plaques in the Surf House from each of the ships that had come to visit. As I recall it was along the wall of the bowling alley, across from the windows that looked over the patio... " (Cyndy)
The booklet at right was obtained during one of the school field trips to visit the Laffey, as was the picture above of the ship at sea. The booklet, unfortunately, isn't dated, but I believe it is from late 1960 or after." (Cyndy) click image to see the full pdf copy
The USS Laffey is now at the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, Charleston, SC. See www.laffey.org for a link to the museum and other info about the Laffey.
Spurred on by a BratChat exchange regarding the Navy visits to Ras Tanura, I was able to make contact with one of the crew of the Laffey who had visited RT in 1961. He sent me the following email (September 16, 2002), with his memories of that visit: