Skip to comments.The FReeper Foxhole - Torpedo Squadron 8 Plane Captain Relives ‘Battle of Midway - June 4th, 2007
Posted on 06/04/2007 6:58:54 PM PDT by snippy_about_it
are acknowledged, affirmed and commemorated.
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US NAVY NEWS
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, theres 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, theyd 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 islands 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 carriers 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 Yorktowns 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 www.navy.mil.
Good evening snippy, wow another new thread, great!
Did you get some rain?
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.
Oh good, I heard Georgia was due for rain, I thought of you and Sam. Glad you can see a blue sky.
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).
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.
The story of VT-8 is one to remember and retell.
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?
Y'all have a great day
A day late, but falling in. Thanks for remembering the “forgotten” battle that turned the tide in the Pacific.
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.
Happy Anniversary!! :-)
The Danutless was a “cool” looking plane.
I knew Akagi was “Red Castle”, thanks for the info on the other 3 carriers. Do you know what Zuikaku and Shokaku translate too?
big ole bttt
I have such admiration for Adm. Nimitz. He took some thin intelligence, put himself in the mind of the enemy commander, made a very gutsy and very right call to throw everything he had at the enemy, and position his forces just right to win.
Then, of course, you have the tremendous stories of heroism and sacrifice, epitomized by Squadron 8 and Cmdr. Waldron. Certainly, one of the Navy's finest hours.
Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. Somewhat related...we did a thread a couple years back here at the Foxhole on “Naming Navy Ships”. What a hoot that was, learning the way decisions were made, changed, remade.
Happy anniversary!! Good to see you in the Foxhole.
Yeah, whatever happened to him? I guess that girl that was helping is a slacker, too!
We got a lot of the smoke, everytime the winds blew from the east or north we got hit. You’d swear the fire was across the street. I don’t know how the folks close in managed.
Hi Jinxy. Hopefully it will continue to be retold long after they and we are gone.
Nice shot. Great pic, thanks alfa6.
Hey, we don’t care when you fall in just fall in. I posted late last night, eastern time but my window of opportunity for posting keeps interfering with work or sleep so it gets tough. :-)
Good to see you.
Thank you Phil. We could use some of these slogan posters for the new invasion, this one from our south.
Hi ya sweetie. Thanks for stopping by. I like your tagline.
Oh, nevermind. For a minute there.....
Yes, this was smartly done. With all the reading Sam and I do of battles and individual fights we are always remarking how one person, one move, wrong or right can change so much.
I switched out computers and I need to hunt down the files so I can update them. (For that matter, I need to hunt down the software I was using).
I suppose you could always just copy the source code from the threads they are on now. I had no idea you were using software. Handy!
I think I ended up using FrontPage. I know I tried a couple of other programs first.
There. Fixed it.
Google Image Search for "spankentruppen" produces two pages of returns from someplace called FreeRepublic.com.
But YOU guys know nuzzing. . . .
Brings back the years I studied 1942. As The Iron Duke called Waterloo, 1942 was “a near run thing”.
1942, even more than John Paul Jones, made The United States Navy. Duty, Honor, Country.
There is a story about Midway, Chester Nimitz, Joseph Rochefort, and signal intelligence.
In late spring of 1942, the Allied war effort in the Pacific was in a precarious state. The combined elements of the Japanese Empire's armed forces had moved from victory to victory. The Pacific fleet, save for several aircraft carriers, had been left in ruins. It appeared that Japan's plans for reducing American and Western hegemony in the Pacific would become a reality. Admiral Yamamoto, the leader of Japan's naval efforts in the early days of the Pacific campaign, had promised that at the outbreak of hostilities he would "run wild for a year," but that he had " utterly no confidence for the second or third year." As a young naval officer, Yamamoto had traveled extensively in the United States and was well aware of America's industrial capabilities. His goal was to force the U.S. to sue for peace before this industrial might could be directed against Japan. With this goal in mind, he sought to lure the American Navy into a decisive battle, in which it would be forced to deploy its remaining assets, thus providing his forces an opportunity to administer one final knockout blow.
While Yamamoto plotted to bring a quick end to war in the Pacific Theater, the United States Navy in the Pacific, led by Admiral Chester Nimitz, was desperately trying to anticipate Japan's next move. Nimitz, unlike his counterpart, had little room for error. At the time of the battle, his 3 aircraft carriers, 45 fighting ships, and 25 submarines were all that lay between Hawaii and the West Coast and a large Japanese Fleet that had yet to suffer a significant defeat. It appeared that Nimitz would have one shot at the enemy. A miscalculation by Nimitz on where Yamamoto would strike next would not only be disastrous, but also possibly fatal to the Allied war effort in the Pacific.
In order to prevail, Nimitz had to have some sense of Japan's intentions. The task of obtaining the critical information required to turn the tide in the Pacific fell to OP-20ÂG, the Navy radio intelligence organization tasked with providing communications intelligence on the Japanese Navy. Established in the early 1920s by Laurence F. Safford, the " Father of Navy Cryptology," OP-20ÂG was key to Nimitz's planning. In addition to his earlier cryptologic efforts, Safford had played a major role in placing Commander Joseph Rochefort in command of Station Hypo, the Navy's codebreaking organization at Pearl Harbor. Over a period of 18 years, OP-20-G had developed a highly skilled group of officers and enlisted men.
In 1942 Rochefort and his staff began to slowly make progress against JN-25, one of the many Japanese command codes that had proven so challenging to the Station Hypo team. JN-25 was the Japanese Navy's operational code. If it could be broken, Rochefort would be able to provide Nimitz the information he needed to make wise and prudent decisions concerning the dispersal of his precious naval assets.
JN-25 (and, no, the Navy did not know about the Pearl Harbor attack ahead of time)
Breaking the Japanese code known to Americans as JN-25 was daunting. It consisted of approximately 45,000 five-digit numbers, each number representing a word or phrase. For transmission, the five-digit numbers were super-enciphered using an additive table. Breaking the code meant using mathematical analysis to strip off the additive, then analyzing usage patterns over time, determining the meaning of the five-digit numbers. This complex process presented a challenge to the officers and men of Station Hypo, but Rochefort and his staff were able to make progress because the system called for the repetitive use of the additive tables. This increased the code's vulnerability. Even so, the work was painfully slow. Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, only 10% to 15% of the code was being read. By June of 1942, however, Rochefort's staff was able to make educated guesses regarding the Japanese Navy's crucial next move.
AF Is Short of Water
In the spring of 1942, Japanese intercepts began to make references to a pending operation in which the objective was designated as "AF." Rochefort and Captain Edwin Layton, Nimitz's Fleet Intelligence Officer, believed "AF" might be Midway since they had seen "A" designators assigned to locations in the Hawaiian Islands. Based on the information available, logic dictated that Midway would be the most probable place for the Japanese Navy to make its next move. Nimitz however, could not rely on educated guesses.
In an effort to alleviate any doubt, in mid-May the commanding officer of the Midway installation was instructed to send a message in the clear indicating that the installation's water distillation plant had suffered serious damage and that fresh water was needed immediately. Shortly after the transmission, an intercepted Japanese intelligence report indicated that "AF is short of water." Armed with this information, Nimitz began to draw up plans to move his carriers to a point northeast of Midway where they would lie in wait. Once positioned, they could stage a potentially decisive nautical ambush of Yamamoto's massive armada.
Due to the cryptologic achievements of Rochefort and his staff, Nimitz knew that the attack on Midway would commence on 3 June. Armed with this crucial information, he was able to get his outgunned but determined force in position in time. On 4 June the battle was finally joined. The early stages of the conflict consisted of several courageous but ineffective attacks by assorted Navy, Marine, and Army Air Corps units.
(Old Slow But Deadly comes to visit)
The tide turned however, at 10:20 a.m. when Lt. Commander Wayne McClusky's Dauntless dive bombers from the USS Enterprise appeared over the main body of the Japanese invasion force. After a brief but effective attack, three of the four Japanese carriers, the Akagi, Soryu, and Kaga were on fire and about to sink. Later that day, Navy dive bombers located and attacked the Hiryu, the fourth and last major carrier in the invasion force, sending her, like the previous three, to the bottom.
As in any great endeavor, luck did indeed play a role, but Nimitz's "Incredible Victory" was no miracle. Gordon Prange, the distinguished historian, noted that "Midway was a positive American victory not merely the avoidance of defeat." General George Marshall, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, in his comments on the victory, perhaps said it best, " as a result of Cryptanalysis we were able to concentrate our limited forces to meet their naval advance on Midway when we otherwise would have been 3,000 miles out of place."
When the Admiral died (February 20, 1966) there was no outward emotional display, but all of us, each one of us, pondered in our hearts. There was nothing to say, anyway. I remember the raw March weather.
Most pleased to see you.
Howdy, all. A toast to the Foxhole and those who love it.
Thanks for the info on the critical part Commander Joseph Rochefort and his Sigint unit played in our victory at Midway. “Incredible Victory” is an excellent book on the battle.
Thanks Phil, a reminder of a time when our Country was united in defeating an enemy.
About time for a change.
You might care to read what I say about being united in the face of one’s enemies, and also the part the press play in misrepresenting such things, in my new book on the battle, Midway Dauntless Victory on:-