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Oliver "Jim" Spriggs

March 14, 1925 January 3, 2015
Oliver "Jim" Spriggs
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Obituary for Oliver "Jim" Spriggs

Oliver James Spriggs Oliver James �Jim� Spriggs died at the Ohio Veterans Home, Brown County, January 3, 2015, at age 89. Jim was a survivor of the longest kamikaze attack of World War II. His destroyer, the USS Laffey DD-724, is displayed at Patriots Point Maritime Museum, S.C., and featured by the History Channel. The ship saw action at D-Day in Normandy, including near miss when a German shell hit but did not explode. The Laffey then was sent to the South Pacific. As the war moved closer to Japan, the ship was right in the middle of the action, including the invasion of Iwo Jima. In April 1945, she came under attack by kamikaze planes off Okinawa. Jim, a machinist mate third class, worked below decks in the engine room. He helped keep the ship afloat for 80 minutes even as it was badly damaged by four bombs and six kamikaze crashes. Out of 322 men, 32 were killed and 71 wounded. Capt. Julian Becton refused to abandon ship and the Laffey was dubbed �the ship would not die.� It became famous nationwide as a symbol of America�s determination to defeat the Japanese. The crew twice was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for their war record, a rare recognition. Jim was a self-made man. He was born March 14, 1925, in York, KY, to the late Floyd and Grace Spriggs. He was not given the opportunity to have a full education, so he taught himself skills he needed to succeed. A strapping 6-foot, 2-inches, he began holding men�s jobs when he was 14. He enlisted in the Navy in 1943 at age 18. He married Laura Lillian Brown in 1947 and they began raising a family. But like many returning veterans, he was having a hard time finding a good job. Lil and Jim moved to Cincinnati, where he was hired by the Ford Motor Company as a millwright. He had a natural gift for the job, which required reading blueprints and other schematics, plus understanding mathematics and physics. He rose to be a maintenance supervisor at the Sharonville transmission plant before taking early retirement. Ford twice asked him to return, making him the only employee to retire three times. In the meantime, he enjoyed working as a handyman. He and Lil had three children, Gemma, David and Leila. They settled in a tight-knit neighborhood on Wooster Pike and their friendships with the Freeman and Menchhoffer families continued for more than 50 years. Jim enjoyed using his big orange Kubota tractor to cut all the yards. He was membership chair for the USS Laffey Association for 20 years. He was interviewed for at least five books, two History Channel shows and other documentaries. Jim and Lil also enjoyed camping, working backstage for the Mariemont Players, working the polls, visiting their families in Kentucky and Nebraska, reading and many other activities. They were members of Anderson Hills Methodist Church in Cincinnati and regularly attended Plum Grove Church in Kentucky. He fished in the Rocky Mountains and loved recalling his encounter with a bear one night. His friends, family and coworkers remember Jim as a kind man who was always willing to give a helping hand. Lil died in 2011. They had been married 64 years. Jim is survived by his son David (Stella Adams); and daughters Gemma McLuckie and Leila Spriggs (Mark Perzel). He also will be missed by seven grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; one great-great granddaughter; brother Harold Spriggs and sister Aileen (Leo) Turner; sister-in-law sister Edith (Boyd) Adkins; and numerous beloved nieces and nephews. Funeral 11AM Thursday with visitation from 6 till 8pm Wednesday with Masonic Services at 7:30PM Wednesday, all at Craver-Riggs Funeral Home & Crematory. Donations may be made in his memory to the USS Laffey DD-724 Association, George Kessler, Treasurer, 9686 Boughtman Road, Harrison OH 43030.

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