On our blog, we have all been enriched by the commentary and insights of Larry Rafferty. Larry is an attorney from Chicago and, despite being a White Sox fan, I asked Larry to be one of our weekend bloggers after reading his uniformly civil and insightful thoughts on legal and political issues. I was not aware until recently about Larry’s father and his disappearance after World War II. Last week, the Chicago Tribune ran a story about Larry’s father, Air Force Capt. Lawrence Rafferty, who was buried at Arlington this year. Mark Esposito and his wife were in attendance representing our community with the Rafferty family and friends. Larry’s mother, Frances, 89, (shown below) was present to see her husband given the honor that he so richly deserved. Captain Rafferty now has a place with other American heroes at Arlington and I wanted to share his incredible story with members of our blog.
Captain Rafferty had completed 50 missions in three months starting on D-Day and received a medal of bravery for one of those missions. He disappeared in 1951.
Frances recalled that she was coloring Easter eggs on Good Friday with her four children when servicemen came to her home to deliver the telegram that her husband’s plane has disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean. Captain Rafferty was only 29 and a passenger on a plane going to the British Isles. The plane was never located and the mystery remains enduring as to what happened on the flight of the C-124 transport aircraft.
Larry recounted this history in a blog entry:
When ships accompanying the USS Coral Sea finally made it to the scene some 19-24 hours later, the life rafts and the men were nowhere to be found. The official accident report that was fully classified for some 50 years, states that there was some debris found in the area, but there was no sign of the crew or the passengers.
The search went on for several days and Western Union telegrams were sent to the families of the men on board detailing the extent of the search activities and efforts. But the searches were unable to turn up any evidence of what happened to the 53 souls on board. The only evidence that the men were there was a valise that was found that had the name of one of the passengers on it. The valise belonged to my father, Captain Lawrence E. Rafferty, who had also been a veteran B-24 pilot in World War II with 50 bombing missions to his credit.
Our Larry recounts in the article below that “My loss was never knowing him. In a sense, it was like he never existed. Now there is a permanent marker to remember what he did and what he gave up.”
It is equally tragic that Captain Rafferty never knew the man that we have come to know and respect on this blog. Larry would make any father proud, but would be a particular source of pride for a man who fought so hard for freedom in World War II. Larry honored the service of his father by fighting as a lawyer and a blogger for the rights of all Americans. We are so grateful to Captain Rafferty for his sacrifice and for his son.
I expect that Captain Rafferty took solace in the fact that he was leaving his children with a woman of clearly extraordinary wisdom and strength. It was wonderful to see pictures of Frances and the rest of the family. She is still a beauty and overcame much to raise Larry and his three siblings. She and Captain Rafferty now have 17 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren to their credit.
Finally, Happy Birthday to Frances. The grande dame turned 89 this past Wednesday!
Thank you Larry for sharing this service and these pictures with your friends here on the blog. Our sincerest condolences and thanks to the Rafferty family.
Source: Chicago Tribune