William Verne Flaherty, 75, of White Oak, passed away peacefully at his home on Tuesday, August 10, 2021 surrounded by those who love him. He was born June 6, 1946 in McKeesport and was the son of the late Regis J. and Ina (Morrison) Flaherty. William was a U.S. Navy Veteran assigned to the U.S.S Sandoval for 3 years. He then served with friendly foreign forces engaged in armed conflict against North Vietnamese and Viet Cong communist aggressors in the Republic of Vietnam.
There he served with the Brown Water Navy Patrol Boat River Division 552, known as RivDiv 552. On the night of July 18, 1969, while on patrol, his boat came under intense enemy rocket propelled grenade and automatic weapons fire. Bill immediately manned his weapon and open fire only to be blown from his position when and enemy rocket penetrated the starboard armor shield, spraying shrapnel through the boat.
Although seriously wounded and seeing the his leg was going to be lost, he courageously attempted to remain his weapon. Only when physically restrained did he cease his efforts to defend his damaged craft and crew mates and allow the patrol officer to administer first aid. For his service, he received 2 Purple Hearts, the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Bronze Star, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Bill was a firm believer in military service organization and was a lifetime member of the DAV and Military Order of the Purple Heart. Bill was a man of courage and compassion who loved God, his country, his wife, his extended family & friends, and companion animals. His love was returned by them.
He is survived by his wife Paulette Jeanne (Smolik) Flaherty of White Oak, brothers, Edward J. (Lorraine) Davis of Chicago, IL, Harry T. (Erika) Flaherty of Mesquite, NV, and Glenn D. Flaherty of White Oak, sister, Faye Flaherty Wilkinson of White Oak, nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his sister, Patricia Flaherty and her husband Edward Dowling, nephew, Regis Dowling, and brother-in-law, Kenneth Wilkinson. Friends are welcome Sunday, August 15, 2021 from 1-4 pm and 6-8 pm at the Gilbert Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc. 1638 Lincoln Way, White Oak, PA 15131. (412) 672-6322 Troy J. Gilbert, director. Funeral service will take place Monday, August 16, 2021 at 9 am in the funeral home chapel, followed by burial at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Bridgeville, PA. Memorial donations to support military service organizations can be made to DAV at P.O. Box 14301,Cincinnati, OH 45250 or to Military Order of the Purple Heart at P.O. Box 96188, Washington, DC 20090. Condolences may be made at Gilbertfuneralhomeandcrematory.com
Originally published August 11, 2021.