Roundtable Forum
Our 17th Year
February 2014

In this issue.

Roundtable Opening Remarks
Midway Video
Turnover of japanese Navy Pilots before BOM
Stanhope Ring
Japanese Pilot Losses During the Voyage to and back from Pearl Harbor
Link Addendum to my What if email.
Number of planes carried aboard Carriers
Battle of Midway Reunions
Information on Men who were in the Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

February issue of the RoundTable has a particularly good video submitted by Mr. Ron Russell on what has happened to Midway Island in the last few years since the US Fish and Wildlife Service has taken over the duties of the island from a private company that maintained the Island.  Very hard to watch but everyone should.

We also have a lot of discussions from the last issue on the Japanese pilots at Midway and comments on Stanhope Ring.  At the end is some information on men who were in the battle or might have been.  I get requests from relatives from time to time and I will start including them in the newsletter.  If they did serve maybe one of our members might have information on them that I do not have.  I always hate to inform a relative that the said named person did not participate without exhausting all avenues.

Midway Video

From Ron Russell:

Here's a link to an amazing online video covering the status of Midway in recent years, since its management was taken from a private company by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Everyone with a fond memory of, affection for, or connection with Midway (which includes all of us in the BOMRT) should take the time to view this fine film from beginning to end.

Sadly, it's an all too familiar story--a successful and highly productive operation that preserved Midway's many historic treasures while maintaining numerous attractions and opportunities for visitors--all at almost no cost to taxpayers--has been taken over by a bloated government bureaucracy that has blown over a hundred million tax dollars on the atoll. And what did that buy us? Midway is now a heartbreaking wasteland of trash and destruction! That makes it a bit painful to watch, but once you start, you can't turn it off--the production is that good.

Allow time to see it all, about 20 minutes or more:

Editors Note:  This is a really good video.  Please watch it.  Makes me sad to think how much we've lost

Turnover of japanese Navy Pilots before BOM

From Scott Smith:

The excellent comments on this subject seem to have ignored one critical point – recent pilot training.

The KB departed Japan on 27 May, and deployment preparations may have kept the Japanese pilots from flying for about ten days or more. Any non-flying days affects inexperienced pilots the most. The longer the layoff, the more drastic the loss of flying skills. Performance of carrier pilots around the ship requires intensive training, especially for new pilots. While carrier pilots can practice landing technique at an airfield, actual carrier landings are much more complicated and requires practice aboard a carrier.

One critical element is the landing interval. My own early carrier experiences stressed a 30-second landing interval and quickly getting across the barrier wires after landing to avoid a fouled-deck wave-off for the next plane. We were criticized for being long-in-the-groove, which ate into the next plane’s interval, and cursed when slow coming out of the arresting gear. When everyone did everything right, we could land 20 airplanes in less-than ten minutes – then man those same 20 aircraft one-hour later for the next launch. Of course each of the Japanese carriers had about 50 aircraft in the air, counting CAP and the strike group, making a recovery really time consuming.

Another critical element is that no matter how much experience we had, the first recovery after a period without flying always had some screw-ups.

Consider Nagumo’s comments on his pilots only as an observer on the Bridge. He had no knowledge of how well his pilots flew formation or their accuracy attacking Midway Island. What he could see was a recovery of his strike aircraft taking about 45 minutes. True, there were some damaged aircraft that may have delayed clearing the deck and there may have had some other problems. We don’t know their average landing interval and the number of fouled-deck wave-offs. My guess is they were both excessive and Nagumo was probably having an anxiety attack during the recovery. Even after the recovery, it would take at least another hour to refuel, arm, and respot his aircraft for launch. He didn’t have an hour.

The strike group returned to their ships by about 0810. Launching CAP caused some delay in starting the strike group recovery, and the Japanese had to dodge aircraft attacks from Midway Island, but the last strike aircraft landed by 0917. We can argue about the time needed to prepare a new strike group launch, but Nagumo was already out of time. It is pointless to speculate what Nagumo might have done during those two hours instead.

One other factor that may have affected the results of the BOM was the fog the Japanese steamed through for a couple days before. Radar took most of the sweat out of steaming in the fog, but the Japanese didn’t have any radar. This put a tremendous strain on the Bridge watch. It is possible that Nagumo spend a good part of those hours on the Bridge, loosing sleep in the process. We all know how even a modest loss of sleep affects the thinking process. If true, this may explain some of the Nagumo’s decisions that ended in a Japanese disaster.


From Scott Kair:

Discussion of the experience level of the Japanese naval pilots at Midway focused on their attack groups. A quick re-reading of Chapter 11 of Shattered Sword revealed that the Japanese fighter pilots might have had more impact on the battle, and provided further evidence that Nagumo’s report was problematic. It also raised the question of just what that experience contributed to the outcome of the battle.

The authors’ description of the CAP pilots who first intercepted Waldron and VT-8 as a “murderers’ row” was memorably heartbreaking when I first read it, and prompted digging out my copy. The refresher was worthwhile, and still heartbreaking, for a number of reasons.

Chapter 11 deals with the Japanese CAP’s interception and destruction of our three carrier-based torpedo squadrons. Even if the authors had not been able to give some background on the element and flight leaders of the CAP, it was clear from the narrative that the Zero pilots were for the most part experienced, capable, and aggressive. The only flaw that was clearly attributable solely to their performance was their apparent unwillingness to engage the B17s, and their inability to bring down Thach’s element of F4F’s quickly. It was not clear from this reading, though, whether the concentration on Thach’s formation at the expense of not immediately butchering VT-3 was a matter of doctrine or target fixation at the expense of broader situational awareness, as the authors labeled it.

Even that aspect could be attributed to the systemic problem of Kido Butai’s lack of radios and underdeveloped fighter direction. The authors remind us that Kido Butai was spread out over several miles of sea, and that the VT attacks came consecutively and from different points of the compass. The only imaginable means of defending against such attacks worse than launching a CAP flight after the attackers were spotted proved to be vectoring airborne fighters by means of screening vessels laying smoke and firing their main batteries. Meanwhile, none of the CAP fighters nor any of the shipboard directors noticed Lt. Gray’s VF-6 group idly circling Kido Butai at altitude, reinforcing the authors’ point of target fixation displacing overall situational awareness. Moreover, one wonders how the necessary chain of events that led to our victory would have held up if Gray’s group had been noticed earlier and caused CAP fighters to be dispatched to an altitude from which they might have spotted and intercepted our dive bombers.

A further detail briefly mentioned might deserve further research. The Japanese projected that our torpedoes and VT’s were ship killers, since their torpedoes were. In essence, their attack doctrine shared focus with our doctrine on torpedo delivery as a decisive weapons delivery system. Thus the CAP focused on our VT’s, and the CAP directors trained themselves to look down, rather than up.

A final point worth noting relates to another current topic. The authors note that the A6M’s onboard store of 20mm cannon ammunition was very limited, and make a reasonable conjecture that many of the Zeroes stayed aloft trying to shoot down TBDs with their 7.7mm machine guns, which lacked the destructive power of the cannons. Thus the Zeroes had to get in closer and expose themselves to defensive fire for a longer period. Thach’s advice to VT-3, that the pilots watch for tracers from sighting fire and then jink and dodge, may well have caused the CAP to expend their 20mm stores even more quickly. Lloyd Childers popping away with a pistol may have been more than an act of desperate defiance.

Scott Kair,

Stanhope Ring

From Don Boyer:

I just finished reading the latest Midway Round newsletter and first off, have to say I really like the new format and layout, and the time and effort made to ensure comments and questions are linked to the Roundtable data base. A real Bravo Zulu for keeping this such an excellent historical forum.

As to Stanhope Ring and all the controversy surrounding his actions at Midway, and his post-war mea culpa, I would be very careful in linking his actions too closely with then-Captain Mitscher as if there was a conspiracy to cover-up there.

Reading Mitcher's bio and the stories of those around him such as Arliegh Burke, it is apparent that Mitscher was not a fan of reading "navy reports" in detail if he didn't have to, and I think anything officially written on the actions of the Hornet Air Groups would have fallen in that category. An administrative failure on his part, to be sure, but certainly not uncharacteristic of the man. I would bet he paid little, if any, attention to the details of that report. This would particularly be the case as he was soon to don Rear Admiral's stripes and be detached.

Thus any failings, "cover-ups" or other defects in that report would have slid right on by and entered the historical record just as they were, leaving it for later historians to ponder its defects and ascribe some sort of possible "collusion" in its deficiencies on Mitscher by default, as if he was covering up for a fellow officer he happened to like. It's more likely he just never paid the attention to it he should have. After all, the battle was one of the greatest naval victories of all time, and was recognized as such at the time by those closest to the battle. There was enough glory for all and little reason to dwell on apparent failings of anybody at the time. That would only occur later when the histories were being written.

Additionally, any failings of CDR Ring that became obvious to the senior command (Nimitz, who overlooked nothing when it came to his officers) would probably have been dealt with in the traditional manner of the navy -- while the individual may move on to other commands, and may even be promoted, as Ring was, they would never assume combat command again, and combat command was the path to four stars. Ring fell in this category, obviously. This deals with the problem without having to char an otherwise useful career. "Fuzzy" Theobald was dealt with in a similar manner after his error in not taking Nimitz' guidance to heart re the northern operations.

I've always compared an officer like Ring with officers like the first commanding officer of the USS Wahoo, Marvin Kennedy, a good, stolid "officer" but one locked into the patterns of the pre-war navy, more concerned with appearances and protocol and "by the book" operations than learning new methods of warfighting, and lacking in the ability to take risks and therefore a failure in combat command regardless of how they felt about themselves. The contrast between a man like Kennedy and his successor in command, Dudley Morton, were quite marked, and reflected directly in terms of combat success. The difference between Ring and his contemporaries and those young officers soon to assume squadron commands based on their combat records is enormous.

You can certainly fault Stanhope Ring for not measuring up when the chips were down, but you certainly cannot be surprised by it, nor can you beat the man down forever over it. He was one of many who, despite rank and experience, just didn't cut it in wartime. I see his exact counterparts in the military organizations I work with today, not much has changed in that respect.

Don G. Boyer
Haleiwa, HI 1/30/14

Editor's Note: Thanks for the well thought out response. I was a little reluctant to put the note f in the newsletter in the first place as I, like you, do not agree that we actually knew what happened that day to Hornet's air group. The only thing known for sure is that Waldron and Ring did not agree on where the Japanese fleet was. Waldron guessed correctly, Ring did not. I do like your comparison to the pre-war submarine skippers that just couldn't get the job done early in the war and were replaced by more aggressive subordinates. Nothing wrong with them but they were trained to fight based on information before the war. Turned out that a lot of what they learned was simply not the case in actual war time settings. But they were stuck in a rigid pre-war doctrine that ultimately held them back. If you want to read a fair book on the subject one called 'Midway Submerged' is pretty good. A little dry as it goes into doctrine a lot. Submarines, outside of Tambor, Nautilis, and I-168 didn't really do much during the battle so not a lot of action. But still a good read. Thanks again. Glad you enjoy the new format and I hope to improve upon it each week.


Reply from Don Boyer:

Thanks for the reply, Thom, appreciate it. I felt a reply to the member was needed, as he bears down a little hard on the "Ring controversy" if you want to call it that. When issues like this pop up, one is obligated to not only look at what happened, but look at the character and characteristics of the commanders involved as well in order to better understand "what happened after".

I had heard of the book you mentioned, but have not read it. Adm English's dispositions of submarines for the battle of Midway were deficient to start with, and the ship's assigned, with the exception of Brockman's Nautilus, were way out of position -- this may be because the sub force and it's commander were not yet fully in the "Ultra" loop as they would be later. Nautilus got lucky. As to the commander's of the day who didn't cut it in submarine command, Dick O'Kane pretty much summed them up, as did Edward Beach (I miss him...he was a good friend of mine) and Clay Blair.

The circumstances are not the least surprising considering pre-war training and doctrine. I feel that the "Ring controversy" has about been beaten to death on the forum and in the books and the whole subject deserves a rest. After all, given a couple of wrong decisions, Miles Browning -- as nasty a piece of work as one could find in the officer corps present at that battle -- could have fallen into the same boat, yet he did not because he made the right calls up to a point. And his one wrong call was overridden by two stars willing to go to bat for the men, much to his chagrin. Hopefully my response will clear things up a bit for our poster if it's added to the next newslatter. I have not been contributing much to the forum of late, due to having to move, and then ending up on the binnacle list for awhile, but I do read all the newsletters and keep abreast of the latest. I am most impressed with the direction you've taken with the layout and design of the newsletter -- I do one for the US Army, so I know what a job it is to take over a "going concern" and make it even better, which you've done.

Best regards,


From Barrett Tillman

At risk of appearing overly cynical/skeptical/realistic, allow me to comment on this quote:

'All that being said I think one has to be careful being too upset after the fact about how certain people acted in battle and subsequently afterwards. One must remember that no one was reprimanded after the battle at least officially and I believe all in command positions went on to various other posts throughout the war and served with honor.'

WW II examples (and later) of senior officers being held accountable for frabups are extremely rare. Were it otherwise, MacArthur would've been "Douglas who?" after 8 December 41. And the corps commander who totally frabbed up at Kasserine Pass got a 3rd star upon rotating home.

Remember: Army Tech and Canoe U were trade schools replete with Old College Ties. I addressed that topic somewhat in the aviation Medals of Honor book.

After BOM Mitscher thought his career was over, with justification. But he'd been selected for RADM so the fix was in. And we needn't dwell on Halsey, who was out of his depth after 43. Leyte & the hurricanes did not prevent him from getting a 5th star. And Stanhope Cotton Ring retired with 3 stars.

Of course it didn't end with the US.  Montgomery committed the Brits to a single-axis advance aiming for A Bridge Too Far when students in the prewar Dutch staff college flunked if they advocated a similar plan. He became Chief of the Imperial Staff.

Anyway, just because nobody was held Accountable (that word gets overworked these days) does not mean the individuals did an adequate job. I'm reminded of the assessment of the Victoria Cross by an Aussie mate:

1/3 were justified
1/3 were not
1/3 were for surviving a major cockup by higher headquarters!

(FWIW, the VC "justified rate" has always been higher than the MoH, and I've known MoHers who agree.)


Japanese Pilot Losses During the Voyage to and back from Pearl Harbor

From Tom Fritz:

I just finished reading The Pearl Harbor Papers, Inside the Japanese Plans edited by Donald M. Goldstein and Katherine V. Dillon. In light of the January RoundTable's Newsletter concerning the quality and number of carrier pilots between Pearl Harbor and Midway, I'm hoping one of our experts has found data on the number of pilots lost during the voyage to and back from Pearl Harbor. On page 294, the following statement is made...

“Throughout the operation, there were several cases of accidents caused by navigational errors as well as the case that on 9 December many scout planes failed to return to their carriers. The case on 9 December sufficed to show lack of estimate-navigation ability, though most of these fliers were spare crews and, in addition, the carriers took different movements from the schedule.”

Editor's Note: I find no reference that listed the losses. Perhaps someone else might have a source.

Addendum to my What if email.

From Scott Sabol

An additional thought. If the B-26 HAD hit Akagi's bridge, killing all there, the decision to rearm for a second attack would not have been made, and, if the Akagi was damaged enough to be non-operational, at least the Kaga's torpedo squadron would have been available to join Hiryu and Soryu dive bombers. That would have been at least 18-26 torpedo aircraft to join 34-36 dive bombers.

Editor's Note: Another scenario where additional possibilities could have influenced the battle. However as Mr. Ron Russell has so often repeated 'just about anything you can come up with other than what actually happened would have turned out worse for our side..'

Number of planes carried aboard Carriers

From Roger Thomas:

Great discussion points in January's production but antiquated indices for measuring CV ops.

Ops tempo, and launch cycle time are modern terms that express the dynamic situation of carrier warfare better than the static numbers carried. There are a multitude of factors in the Ops tempo include available numbers of pilots (men generally wear out faster than planes thus carry more men and keep the planes airborne more often?) but its not that simple a factor to deal with and seldom occurs exactly the same way. Planes available is an absolute upper limit but repair rate may mean more in a slug fest and certainly the combat survivability of the ship her self the individual, the aircraft types and the combat organization all have a synergistic roles. Aircraft handling is critical to sustained CV ops yet occasionally described poetically in dance terms. Was the larger size of the average US sailor an advantage in that respect (especially plane pushers and ammo haulers)? Fatigue in the weakest man factor in the launch cycle can be critical. Having the edge in landing rate refuel rearm rate, other factors and on and on. It may be unfair to use modern terms yet the situations have a cominality that would make the measures useful for understanding historic situations.

LCDR Roger N Thomas USN Ret.
naval aviator of the 1966 to 1988 period

Battle of Midway Reunions

From Michael Wilson:

I think maybe I have corresponded with you once before. My name is Michael Wilson and I am spearheading a Midway Island Veterans, Dependents, Civilians, and Battle of Midway Survivors Reunion which will be held in Glasgow, Kentucky June 5th thru 8th; 2014. We have 4 BOM survivors that are currently planning on being here, one is a resident of Glasgow. Can you help me get information about this reunion out to see if we can find some more survivors that might like to attend. Also, would your group like to attend and give a presentation on the group. We have a new group that was started by a dependent from Midway Island called Midway Island Alliance. They are taking a great interest in the island. Also, we are in talks with Senator Rand Paul's office and they are going to attempt to have him present at the reunion. If,, you can help get the word of the reunion out let me know and I will give you the contacts and how for those that would want to attend to reach us.

Mike Wilson

Editor's Note:  Thanks for keeping the importance of the battle in front of everyone. As for our group doing any kind of presentation that remains something I'm working on but since it largely has been the hard work of the two former hosts of the site and now me there is not a lot of 'group' in us. But maybe a few members in the area would be interested.


From Roger Thomas:

The Midway reunion group got hold of me!

They want round table members there, at the reunion . I have family issues this year but hope in the future it will be possible.  Lifts from one of my FaceBook groups follow:

"I have been trying to find some one from the Battle of Midway Round Table Members to attend. Would you email me at Al Sanchez, you qualify to attend and would like to have you. I was at PMTC at the same time you were also. I got there Jan 78 and left Mar 80. You might enjoy it since we will be having some of the AirBarron Squadrons represented here. Roger, Al if you would like to attend please send your Address, and phone number to my gmail address listed in this text." AND

"This reunion is adding up to be, not only a large event in numbers, but a reunion with some great events taking place within it. This reunion is open to All that ever served on Midway Island (active, TAD, transient, Kure Island Veterans, Battle of Midway Survivors (whether on the island, or at sea), and dependents of those that served in any of these capacities. June 5th thru 8th, 2014 in Glasgow, Kentucky. For more information contact Mike Wilson at 270-579-2525, or; or Ann Stewart (Glasgow/Barren County Tourism Director) at 1-800-264-3161, or As of now we have 4 Battle of Midway Survivors scheduled to attend.


I am sure at some point I would love to come to such an event even thought I have only been in Hawaii, the Carolines, Marshalls and Marianas and am only a Vietnam Vet and career Naval Aviator with traps on Essex class( Essex, Bennington, Hornet and Tico and CVN-68.  Is it bad form to seek an invitation under the round table auspices?

best to all request advise,


Editor's Note: Anyone that can make it is welcome to contact the individuals listed above. And anything to promote the history and memories of the Battle of Midway can always feel free to contact us regarding Reunions or Celebrations.

Information on Men who were in the Battle of Midway

From Kenneth Horner:

My name is Kenneth Horner and my mom’s brother (my Uncle) died in the Battle of Midway aboard the USS Hammann – DD-412. His name is Kenneth E McMahon. I belong to the USS Midway museum and served on her from 1961 – 1963. I submitted this information I had about Kenneth to the Museum and asked if they would include him in their exhibits. I think your group would be interested in his story for the Battle of Midway. I hope you can use it.

Also, I see on your website that Elmer Jones was on the USS Hammann. Is he still alive and if yes, could you put me in Contact with him?

I purchased a plaque for Kenneth and it is on display at the Museum of the Pacific in Fredricksburg, TX.

Thanks for your consideration in this manner.
Ken Horner

Editor's Note: Here is a letter with information on Mr. McMahon submitted to the Museum.


Kenneth Eugene McMahon
– Enlisted on November 12, 1941; his 17th birthday.

Born: November 12, 1924 in Farragut, Iowa

Died: June 16, 1942 in Honolulu, Hawaii

Mother: Edith McMahon
Father: John W McMahon
Siblings: Burtus Helen McMahon Horner, Wilma McMahon Petersen and John W. McMahon

Service Number: 6480406
Enlisted: November 13, 1941
Rank: Sea 2a, V-6, USNR
Duty Station: U.S.S. Hammann DD-412 on December 17, 1941

Read about the History of the U.S.S. Hammann DD-412at:

While serving aboard the USS Hammann (DD 412), Participated in the following operations for which engagement stars are authorized on ASIATIC-PACIFIC AREA SERVICE RIBBON: 4 – 8 May 1942 Coral Sea : 3 – 6 June 1942 Midway

On January 2, 1947 Kenneth was awarded posthumously the American Defense Service Medal and the World War II Victory Medal

Death Certificate Notes:
U.S. Naval Hospital, Pearl Harbor. T. H. – Hawaii

Patient (Kenneth Eugene McMahon) was admitted to this hospital at about 1500 on June 09, 1942 suffering from the effects of compression injury of abdomen and chest (Blast Injury) which he sustained on June 04, 1942 (Battle of Midway) when the ship he was serving aboard was abandoned and sunk by enemy action. Injuries were incurred when depth charges aboard sinking (USS Hammann) exploded, blowing patient out of water. Here is the web site of the USS Hammann DD-412 that has a narrative and photos of the ship.

His condition was regarded as serious upon admission to this hospital and despite energetic and persistent symptomatic supportive and stimulative treatment his course was steadily downward. His abdomen markedly distended from the beginning, remained so, and lungs appeared clinically and roentgenologically to fill with fluid.

He was placed on the critical list on June 13, 1942. Death occurred at 0255, June 16, 1942.

Autopsy revealed extensive contusion to inter abdominal viscera with intra-peritoneal hemorrhage. Lungs presented a markedly hemorrhagic contused appearance. Pericardial sac was filled with fluid.

Initial Burial was at the Halawa Cemetery No. 757

Kenneth E McMahon is now buried at The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and the Honolulu Memorial which covers 116 acres. Located in Puowaina Crater, an extinct volcano referred to in Hawaii as "Punchbowl" because of its shape. He is buried In Section A Site 711.

Submitted by:
Kenneth Eugene Horner

I am the son of Burtus Helen McMahon Horner and my mother named me after Kenneth Eugene McMahon. I also served on the aircraft carrier USS Midway from 1961 to 1963 as a US Marine Orderly to the captain of the ship. The USS Midway was named after the Battle of Midway where my uncle Kenneth Eugene McMahon was killed. The USS Midway is now a museum in San Diego, CA.

From David Baxtor:

My grandfather was Ernest Hisaw he was a Marine stationed on Midway during the battle he recieved a shrapnel wound in his leg during the battle but always told me her refused his purple heart. Have you any record of his rank or unit. He may have been on a ship but no one in the family know which ship.

Editor's Note: I have searched in my information but cannot confirm his identity or where he served. Anyone else have information on him?