MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - A World War II veteran who visited the USS Laffey at Patriots Point 73 years after serving on the ship has died.
Waitman Kapaldo died Sunday in Munster, Indiana. He was 97.
On July 6, the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum and the U.S. Navy honored Kapaldo for his service during the Battle of Okinawa.
"We did what we thought was right and it all seemed to turn out okay," Kapaldo said during the ceremony.
Hundreds came out to Patriots Point for the ceremony, greeting Kapaldo with clapping and thanking him for his service. A flag from the Laffey was also officially retired and presented to Kapaldo.
Kapaldo was a member of the original crew, serving from Feb. 8, 1944, to Sept. 24, 1945. In addition to the Battle of Okinawa, he also fought in the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
During the battle of Okinawa, Kapaldo helped defend the ship from more than 22 Japanese kamikaze planes which killed 32 crew members. The Kapaldo family says the ceremony aboard the USS Laffey provided closure he still needed 73 years after the attack, according to Patriots Point spokesman Christopher Hauff. According to data released by the US Department of Veterans Affairs in September 2017, 362 World War II veterans pass away every day.
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