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The FReeper Foxhole - Torpedo Squadron 8 Plane Captain Relives ‘Battle of Midway - June 4th, 2007
U.S. Navy ^ | June 4th, 2007 | Specialist 1st Class James E. Foehl, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

Posted on 06/04/2007 6:58:54 PM PDT by snippy_about_it


Keep our Troops forever in Your care

Give them victory over the enemy...

Grant them a safe and swift return...

Bless those who mourn the lost.

FReepers from the Foxhole join in prayer
for all those serving their country at this time.

...................................................................................... ...........................................

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Torpedo Squadron 8 Plane Captain Relives ‘Battle of Midway


Story Number: NNS070604-11
Release Date: 6/4/2007 12:32:00 PM
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James E. Foehl, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- On June 4 more than 1,500 distinguished visitors and guests will gather on Midway Atoll to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Midway.

The sacrifices of those U.S. Sailors who fought so valiantly during that battle at sea June 4-7, 1942, will continue to be commemorated every year by the Navy as the critical turning point of the war in the Pacific--a battle that changed the course of history.

The story of the battle begins months earlier, when a daring bombing raid on Japan was launched from U.S. aircraft carriers, led by then U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, striking America's first blow in the Pacific after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

One of the Sailors who participated in both the Doolittle Raid and the Battle of Midway spoke of the sacrifices of heroic Sailors.

“The day of the [Doolittle Raid] launch was a rough day. There was some speculation of fishing boats that were out there who would alert the Japanese of what we were doing and what type of ship we were,” said William A. Tunstall, an aviation machinist's mate 2nd class from Springfield, Mass., who was assigned to Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8).

“Capt. Marc Andrew Mitscher, [Hornet's commanding officer], came on and told us the reason the airplanes were on our flight deck was that we are going out and bomb Japan,” said Tunstall. “We went up on 40 [degrees] north and started to cross the ocean. When we got to 180 [degrees], low and behold, there’s another aircraft carrier.”

From the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV 8), the U.S. Army Air Force B-25 bombers launched what would prove to be a greatly embarrassing attack to the Japanese on their homeland soil.

“When these [B-25] aircraft started to launch, I went up to hangar deck, then on up to the catwalk. When the bow went down, [the landing signal officer] would tell them to launch. When the deck came up, they’d be right in a position to take off,” said Tunstall.

The strike was a success. Shocked that their home islands were vulnerable to attack, the Japanese now knew that the U.S. carrier forces in the Pacific posed an immense threat, which they had to eliminate.

After the Doolittle Raid, the Japanese devised a plan for an attack on Midway, designed to cripple the U.S. Pacific Fleet carrier forces and capture Midway Islands, which could serve as a launching point for further attacks on Hawaii or the U.S. mainland. Japanese submarines would be sent to intercept carriers from Pearl Harbor to Midway, and as attacks on Midway began, the Pacific Fleet carriers would be ambushed as they attempted to come to the island’s rescue.

However, unknown to the Japanese, superior American communication intelligence gave the edge to U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Chester W. Nimitz. Nimitz used information gleaned from decoded Japanese message traffic to strategically position his fleet for battle with the unsuspecting Japanese carrier forces while keeping the American fleet out of reach of the Japanese submarines.

USS Enterprise (CV 6) and Hornet quickly moved from Pearl Harbor, heading to a point north east of Midway, with USS Yorktown (CV 5) following soon after.

The stage was set.

“June 4, 1942, I was on the flight deck of [USS] Hornet,” said Tunstall. “I was a plane captain of a TBD [torpedo bomber]. It was a fine old airplane, I had flown a lot of hours in it and flying the middle seat as a Bombardier when it was needed.”

“When they announced they had found the Japanese and their ships were coming closer, within range of our airplanes, they sounded general quarters and we went up and got our planes ready to go," said Tunstall. "I had my airplane ready to go. I said to [my pilot] ‘Mr. Abercrombie, I want to wish you the very best. Good luck.’”

The planes were all quickly launched, and formed up with the other squadrons to head off the Japanese Fleet.

“Waldron, commanding officer, VT-8, found [the Japanese Fleet] and called in all the available aircraft he could get,” said Tunstall.

VT-8 received the Presidential Unit Citation, which was awarded on April 5, 1943, for their attack that day. The citation gives a vivid account of the squadron's desparate and, ultimately, doomed attack which led the way for other air attacks to succeed.

“Flying low without fighter support, Torpedo Squadron (VT) 8 began the perilous mission, ‘Intercept and attack!’ First to sight the enemy, the squadron attacked with full striking power against crushing enemy opposition, scoring torpedo hits on Japanese forces. Realizing to a man that insufficient fuel would prevent a return to the carrier, the pilots held doggedly to the target, dropping torpedoes at pointblank range in the face of blasting anti-aircraft fire that sent the planes, one by one, hurtling aflame into the sea."

The last of Torpedo Eight's TBDs, T-16 (BuNo 1506), flown by LCDR John C. Waldron with Horace Franklin Dobbs, CRMP, in the rear seat, taking off Hornet on 4 June 1942. Notice the unstowed twin .30 cal. Photo courtesy Mark Horan

Following the brave attack by VT-8, dive-bombers from the Yorktown pummeled Japanese carrier Soryu, making three lethal hits with 1,000-pound bombs that turned the ship into an inferno.

Meanwhile, Enterprise planes hit Japanese carrier’s Akagi and Kaga, turning them into scrap metal within a short period of time.

Within a span of minutes, three squadrons of SBD scout bombers; two from Enterprise and one from Yorktown, successfully bombed and set ablaze three of the four Japanese carriers and crippled the Japanese carrier forces at Midway.

As a final effort, the remaining Japanese carrier, Hiryu, launched an attack on Yorktown.

Despite hits from dive bombers and going dead in the water, Yorktown regained 20 knots and launched her aircraft to intercept inbound Japanese torpedo bombers.

Two Japanese torpedoes opened a huge hole in Yorktown’s midships port side and left her with a severe list. Fearing the ship would roll over, abandon ship was ordered.

Enterprise planes, which now included 10 refugees from the Yorktown, answered Hiryu by putting more than four bombs into her, destroying the forward flight deck and setting her ablaze.

Shocked and overwhelmed, Japanese Combined Fleet Commander Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto ordered a retreat and his Midway operation was called off.

Recounting what happened to his own squadron, Tunstall said, “All our (VT-8) planes were shot down. The one [pilot] that came back, parachuted into the water and his name was [Ens.] George Gay.”

All of the men of "Torpedo Eight" (VT8), in the above photo, save Ensign George Gay (with the circle around him) were killed in action on June 6, 1944 in a gallent charge of the Japanese Carriers while flying slow, obsolete planes with no fighter cover. Their actions were not in vain however, as they distracted the Japanese fighters and AA gunners just long enough that they did not notice the Dauntless dive-bombers soon to reign down death from above.

The sacrifices and daring action by the vastly outnumbered U.S. fleet proved decisive in a way few battles ever have; Japanese plans to extend their empire across the Pacific Ocean by sinking the remaining U.S. Pacific Fleet carrier forces were smashed. The heroic actions of the American Sailors in the Battle of Midway set the stage for the ultimate vistory in the Pacific theatre of World War II, and left a legacy of valor for future generations of U.S. Navy Sailors.

[Some of the information used in this story was provided by the Naval Historical Center].

For more news from around the fleet, visit

FReeper Foxhole Armed Services Links

KEYWORDS: freeperfoxhole; history; midway; veterans
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Some news we thought our readers might be interested in. Enjoy.
1 posted on 06/04/2007 6:59:00 PM PDT by snippy_about_it
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To: James Ewell Brown Stuart; alfa6; Allen H; Colonial Warrior; texianyankee; vox_PL; Bigturbowski; ...

SARGE Says...
I Dug the Hole Now "FALL IN" to the FReeper Foxhole!

Good Monday Evening Everyone.

If you want to be added to our occasional ping list, let us know.

2 posted on 06/04/2007 7:01:02 PM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul. WWPD (what would Patton do))
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To: snippy_about_it

Good evening snippy, wow another new thread, great!

Did you get some rain?

3 posted on 06/04/2007 7:05:15 PM PDT by Soaring Feather (I Soar 'cause I can....)
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To: Soaring Feather

We did get some rain, two days in a row! We’re real happy about it and now when you look up in a clearing the sky is blue again, yippee.

4 posted on 06/04/2007 7:10:02 PM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul. WWPD (what would Patton do))
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To: snippy_about_it

Oh good, I heard Georgia was due for rain, I thought of you and Sam. Glad you can see a blue sky.

5 posted on 06/04/2007 7:11:55 PM PDT by Soaring Feather (I Soar 'cause I can....)
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To: NY Attitude


6 posted on 06/04/2007 7:22:37 PM PDT by Soaring Feather (I Soar 'cause I can....)
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To: snippy_about_it
Great thread, snippy, SAM.

Footage from the USS YORKTOWN was included in our Damage Control classes in boot camp as well as the USS FRANKLIN.

June 4th = Battle of Midway, Tienanmen Square, and Mr & Mrs DD’s wedding anniversary (42 years).

7 posted on 06/04/2007 7:24:08 PM PDT by Diver Dave
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To: snippy_about_it
Related threads:

The FReeper Foxhole Remembers John Waldron and The Battle of Midway (6/4/1942) - June 4th, 2003

The FReeper Foxhole Profiles Lieutenant George H. Gay, Jr., USNR, (1917-1994) - May 21st, 2004

You know, that guy who does the indexing thread really needs to get back on the ball.

8 posted on 06/04/2007 7:41:21 PM PDT by PAR35
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To: snippy_about_it
It is that time again...

The story of VT-8 is one to remember and retell.

9 posted on 06/04/2007 8:41:05 PM PDT by HiJinx (Ask me about Troop Support...)
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To: snippy_about_it

This is an interesting thread. Other than the John Wayne movie, I knew very little about it.

Were you affected by the horrific wild fires in Georgia? Did the rains help?

10 posted on 06/04/2007 8:43:06 PM PDT by Humal
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To: snippy_about_it
Good morning, Snippy and everyone at the Freeper Foxhole.


11 posted on 06/05/2007 2:55:40 AM PDT by E.G.C.
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; Professional Engineer; Soaring Feather; Samwise; The Mayor; Fiji Hill; ...
Greetings to all, I picked up a pretty cool pic of a Devestator yesterday from Freeper Fiji Hill on a thread about Halsey and the Typhoon. It's a TBD from the USS Enterprise over Wake Island in Feb 1942 if the caption is correct.


Y'all have a great day


alfa6 ;>}

12 posted on 06/05/2007 5:13:19 AM PDT by alfa6
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To: snippy_about_it

A day late, but falling in. Thanks for remembering the “forgotten” battle that turned the tide in the Pacific.

13 posted on 06/05/2007 5:54:49 AM PDT by steveegg (I am John Doe.)
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To: snippy_about_it
To an Occidental like myself, World War II-era Japanese naval nomenclature is intriguing. One of the Japanese aircraft carriers sunk at Midway was the Kaga, which means "Increased Joy." The others were the Hiryū (Green Dragon), Sōryū (a feathered, flying dragon resembling a bird), and Akagi (Red Castle, a mountain in Gunma Prefecture, about 100 miles northwest of Tokyo).
14 posted on 06/05/2007 7:29:52 AM PDT by Fiji Hill
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To: snippy_about_it; alfa6; Professional Engineer; Valin; colorado tanker; SAMWolf
Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless Walkaround

15 posted on 06/05/2007 9:50:10 AM PDT by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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To: snippy_about_it

It is 0700 hours, the fourth day of June, 1942 on the deck of the carrier, Hornet (CV-8). This is the carrier made famous less than two months prior, when B-25s led by Jimmy Doolittle were launched from her deck in the daring, first surprise bombing raid on Japan. The atmosphere is tense, as the Douglas TBD Devastator torpedo bombers of Torpedo Squadron Eight are poised for takeoff. The pilots' orders are to attack the entire might of the Japanese fleet off Midway Island. Squadron leader, LCdr John C. Waldron and his aircrews are well aware that their chances of survival from this fateful mission are minimal at best.

At the time of its introduction in 1937, the Devastator was in the technological forefront of aircraft design. However, five short years later, it was hopelessly obsolete against a powerful, formidable enemy. Flying low and slow against the Japanese armada, all fifteen torpedo bombers were shot out of the sky with only one survivor, Ensign George Gay. However, this action forced the defending Zero fighters down to wave-top level and exhausted much of their fuel, leaving their carriers virtually unprotected. Soon after, SBD Dauntless dive bombers hit and sank three carriers, the pride of the Japanese fleet (the Akagi, the Kaga, the Soryu, and the next day, the Hiryu.)

This action was the turning point of World War II in the Pacific. From that point on, Japan would be fighting a defensive war against increasingly powerful American forces.

This historically significant, emotionally inspiring print is dedicated to the brave men of Torpedo Squadron Eight who sacrificed their lives and, in doing so, enabled America to gain the offensive and pursue victory in the Second World War.

Ensign Gay is circled in this photo; all the other men pictured died in their attack of June 4, 1942.

16 posted on 06/05/2007 10:04:30 AM PDT by SAMWolf (To learn about paranoids, follow them around)
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To: Diver Dave

Happy Anniversary!! :-)

17 posted on 06/05/2007 10:05:20 AM PDT by SAMWolf (To learn about paranoids, follow them around)
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To: PhilDragoo

The Danutless was a “cool” looking plane.

18 posted on 06/05/2007 10:07:18 AM PDT by SAMWolf (To learn about paranoids, follow them around)
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To: Fiji Hill

I knew Akagi was “Red Castle”, thanks for the info on the other 3 carriers. Do you know what Zuikaku and Shokaku translate too?

19 posted on 06/05/2007 10:10:43 AM PDT by SAMWolf (To learn about paranoids, follow them around)
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To: snippy_about_it

big ole bttt

20 posted on 06/05/2007 10:21:36 AM PDT by Professional Engineer (Don't blame me, I voted for Hatch.)
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