Roundtable Forum
Our 17th Year
May 2014

In this issue.

Roundtable Opening Remarks
VP23 at Midway Comments
Remembering Coral Sea
Regarding Martin Mahannah
New BOM RoundTable Veteran
Correction on Alfred M. Pride
Two Midway Aviators
Notes and Announcements.
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

May 1942 the Battle of Coral Sea was fought between May 4th and 8th.  The impact it had on the Battle of Midway a month later has been examined and analyized for many years.  In the final analysis the US traded one Aircraft Carrier, Lexington, lost, for two Japanese Aircraft Carriers participation in the Battle of Midway.  However the impact was probably far greater than that.  The Shokaku and Zuikaku were two of the most modern carriers in operation at the time.  They had far better damage control than any of the 4 Japanese carriers lost at Midway as proven by the damage Shokaku took at Coral Sea and again at Santa Cruz surviving both encounters with US dive bombers.  By denying the Japanese these two carriers it helped even the odds just a little at Midway.

In this months issue James Bowen sends us a newsletter from the Pacific War Historical Society about the Battle of Coral Sea.  Bill Vickrey chimes in and we're glad to hear from him not only about how the RoundTable was formed but with some info about the story in last months isssue from Gerry Child and VP23 at Midway.  We have a Battle of Midway veteran joining the RoundTable this month along with his son and several other notes and articles.

June 4th, 2014 is the 72nd anniversary of the Battle of Midway.  I would like to, in behalf of all of the RoundTable, honor all the men that fought on that day and a special thanks to those RoundTable veterans that have so graciously shared their personal stories and insights.

Forever in your debt.

VP23 at Midway Comments

From: Bill Vickrey

Ensign Gerry Child, USNR (Ret) wrote his Battle of Midway article at my request. For the record, “the reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated.”

Just as a matter of information, I was one of the five members who originated the Midway forum.  It originated when Captain Howard Ady, Jr., USN (Ret) and Howard Ady III came by to visit us before Christmas one year.  The three of us – along with Bill Price and Captain Frank DeLorenzo, USN (Ret) kicked it off a few days later.  There are other lists as to who got it rolling – but this is it.  Captain Ady and Captain DeLorenzo are deceased but the other three of us are still around.  I am sending a copy of this to Bill Price but cannot locate Howard Ady III’s email address for the moment...he lives in Hawaii and maybe Bill Price has it.

Bill Vickrey
Burlington, NC

Editor's Note:  Glad to know I misinformed our members about you. I saw your name on the list of members that Mr. Russell forwarded to me and probably should have sent you a message.  But I wasn't sure how up to date it was or if the entry was you.  Should have known.  This forum is a pretty inclusive club.  My mistake.

From: Warren Gerald Child

Thanks for the update on Mr Vickery's. Needless to say, I too am pleased to learn that he has not passed away. With my tail between my legs a bit, I will reach out to him this evening by email.

I enjoyed and appreciated your introductory remarks about my dad's story. You're very kind and it's obvious that your work means a great deal to so many people.

From: Richard Douglass

There is another seldom seen patrol squadron account, Shot Down at Midway, by Lee Coleman McCleary.  Mr. McCleary was in VP-44, and his interesting account was published in 1996.

I almost never see this book mentioned or available, but fortunately for me he had a few copies left when I visited him at his home in June of 2000.  It is of course one of the prized books of my extensive Midway collection.

Richard Douglass
Kent, Washington

Remembering Coral Sea

Mr. James Bowen sent a copy of the PACIFIC WAR HISTORICAL SOCIETY NEWSLETTER - 8 MAY 2014 on the Significance the Battle of Coral Sea had on shaping the course of the pacific war and on Australia directly.  You can read it in the link below.

Pacific War Historical Society Newsletter - 8 May 2014

To Linda Smith Regarding Martin Mahannah

From:  Larry Lassise

I have researched 2nd LT Martin Mahannah's death in past years and was able to speak to Bill Brooks (VMF-221 survivor) in depth about Mahannah's fate.  Bill had indicated that after Mahannah's body washed ashore the day after the attack it was believed, and officially documented, as drowning for the cause of death.  Not so fast - Bill spoke with a Navy Corpsman who had handled Mahannah's remains and most definitively said that Mahannah had received numerous bullet wounds.  Eyewitnesses, as documented in AAR's, clearly saw an American pilot, presumably Mahannah, being strafed in his parachute on numerous occasions by Japanese aircraft.  Bill went on to say Mahannah, along with others, were buried at sea.  If I recall, (I will dig up my notes) Bill had said Mahannah was buried at sea twice - the first occasion sadly didn't have enough weight to keep Mahannah's remains submerged.  Incidentally, Bill was a ceremonial Pall Bearer for Mahannah.

Another note of interest.  There's a NOAA Marine Archaeological Dive Team tentatively scheduled to travel to Midway Atoll to search for historical wrecks.  One of the areas is a known wreckage site quietly located in 2001 by a Midway Dive employee the week after I had dove with him.  It's my opinion, this find is the wreckage of 2nd LT Martin Mahannah.  Dr. Kelly Gleason, who will be heading up NOAA's effort, has been notified of the exact location along with other potential site locations.  It could be a very interesting summer.

Larry Lassise

New BOM RoundTable Veteran

From:  R/Charles Roberts, CDR USNR-Retired

I would like to get myself as well as my Dad added to your distro list for your monthly Forum issues.

My Dad "J B Roberts" was a seaman 2nd class assigned to 4th Division aboard the USS Yorktown (CV-5).  His battle station was the "Trainer" on the forward 5in Gun Mount located on the aft port side.  Dad was assigned to the USS Yorktown from November 1941 and participated in the battle of Coral Sea as well as the Battle of Midway.  Following the sinking of the Yorktown he was assigned to the USS Oglala (ARG-1) where he continued service as a Gunners Mate during WWII.  Following eight years of service he was discharged as a GM1.

I have just one question - why was the Yorktown (CV-5) never awarded any awards (like a Presidential Unit Citation or a Navy Unit Commendation) for its participation at Coral Sea and/or Midway.  I know these awards were not established until 1942 and 1944 but because of the significance of the USS Yorktown's participation in both of these battle - one would assume that it would have been written up later.  Was an award request submitted but never issued and if so why?

R/Charles Roberts, CDR USNR-Retired

Editor's Note:  Mr. Charles Roberts, very glad to make your acquaintance.  I am happy to add both you and your father to the RoundTable email list.  All I need is an email for you and one for your father.

Also nice to see there is another Battle of Midway Veteran joining the list.  If your father would like to write up a short note about his experiences at Midway (and Coral Sea for that matter) we would gladly include his story in our Veterans stories pages.  Any photos and such gladly posted as well.  We're always looking for more personal touches to history to add to our pages and references.  But if he does not wish to that's fine too.  Just glad to have both of you on board.

I'll also add your question to our next newsletter. I'm not really sure why the Yorktown was ignored or if the awards were given later I certainly never heard of one handed out.

From:  R/Charles Roberts

I have been working on Dad to write and record his Navy info - he is now 94 years old so I will see what we can work up. He is a member of the USS Yorktown CV5 reunion group and we did attend this years reunion in Washington DC - prior to this year reunion he last attended a USS Yorktown reunion around 2006.

I would love to see a discussion about awards the USS Yorktown never received and why - if anybody knows. The Yorktown black shoes played a major role during the battle of Coral Sea as well as the battle of Midway. I know a lot of the air wing received awards but few for the Yorktown's ships company.

Thanks again,
R/C Roberts

Correction on Alfred M. Pride

From: David Anderson

I want to correct some information which I wrote that was in error on Alfred M. Pride.  (I was relying on my memory, which can be a bad thing to do.)

In the fall of 1916, Mr. Pride entered Tufts Engineering School.  He remained in school into the following year, when it seems he left to join the Navy.  Officially, he was on inactive duty in the Reserves from the third week of March 1917, until the first portion of April 1917.  He went on active duty on 8 April 1917, remaining an enlisted man until September 1918, when he was commissioned an Ensign, on 17 September.  From June 1924 to June 1925 Lieutenant Pride attended the Naval Postgraduate School at the Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Md., taking the course in Aeronautical Engineering Instruction.  From June 1925 until July 1926, LT Pride attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., also in aeronautical engineering.

I hope this corrects the information I sent before. These facts come from Admiral Pride's U.S. NavaI Institute Oral History.

David Anderson

Two Midway Aviators

From:  David B. Gillis, CDR MC USNR (ret)

I have long nursed a burning desire to write a docu-novel centered on the Battle of Midway and two Marine aviators who participated in the Battle, Lofton ‘Joe’ Henderson and Marion Carl, and their wives.  In the course of my life I have been extremely fortunate with regards to three persons whose lives, at some point, briefly intersected my own life.  The first such instance I relate to you because it is probably unique in today’s world, the other two relate to the two Marine heroes of the Battle of Midway.  First is Martha Graham who was featured in the Sunday, January 4, 1959 issue of the Greensboro Daily News, which reported she was the oldest living citizen in the State of North Carolina, at the time, and a former slave on the plantation of David Black Gillis. Ms Graham related in the article memories of the Civil War, at which time she was 8 years old.  Colin Shaw Smith, the Director of the Student Union at Davidson College, where I was a student in my junior year, brought the article to my attention, as David Black Gillis is also my name.  My father confirmed that the plantation noted was owned by my Great Grandfather, David Black Gillis, which was also my father’s name.  My father and I then visited Martha Graham one Sunday afternoon.  She was 116 years old at the time, and lived with her 96 year old daughter.  She described a Yankee soldier, mounted, riding his horse up the front steps, across the porch and into the living room.  For the 25 families of slaves on the plantation, there were two rules: kids could not climb in trees and were not allow to swim in the ponds – exactly the same two rules under which I grew up with (my mother being afraid we would fall out of a tree and break our neck, and we did not know how to swim and might drown in the turbid waters of a pond of unknown depth.  Ms Graham never left the local area – during her life she never traveled outside the local county, i.e., less than 12 miles to the county border.  It was an incredible experience to spend an afternoon with her.  I doubt there is currently another living person who has had a conversation with a former slave, particularly, within the family.

The other two experiences are related to the Battle of Midway.  Marion Carl was a Marine aviator, a Captain, who boarded the CV Saratoga for transport to Wake Is.  When that mission was aborted, his squadron disembarked at Midway.  He survived his encounter with Japanese fighters during their first attack on Midway, however, his plane was too damaged to ever fly again.  Later, he became an American Ace flying out of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal.  He is generally considered a Marine Corps legend as a test pilot and Marine aviator.  On page 107 of “Pushing the Envelope”, his autobiography, written with Barrett Tillman, he describes his flight line visit to HMM-164 on 11 March 1966, to see the new CH-46 helicopters arriving.  I have attached a photo I took of him with several of ‘my’ pilots – I was the Naval Flight Surgeon who served with HMM-164 for 13 months after our arrival at USMC Marble Mtn. Air Facility.  At that time, Colonel Carl was Deputy Commander of the First Marine Air Wing, headquartered at DaNang.  He earlier married Edna Kirvin, a Powers Modeling Service model assigned to accompany then Captain Carl on war-bond savings rallies stateside after his Henderson Field exploits.  I was fortunate to serve in the 1st Marine Air Wing at the same time as he did.

The second Battle of Midway Marine aviator, Major Lofton Henderson, commanded the Marine Scout Bomber Squadron on Midway.  He led the first Midway strike against the Japanese carriers and was shot down, becoming the first Marine aviator to die during the battle.  Many years later, in the year 2000, I deployed from North Island Naval Air Station on CVN 74, the John C. Stennis nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, on January 7, for a six month deployment to the Persian Gulf.  We sailed north of Hawaii on our way to a Pusan, SK port of call.  That course took us just north of Midway Island and Captain Gallagher and Rear Admiral Hoewing paused the Battle Group over the site of the CV 5,Yorktown resting place and, on board CVN 74, we conducted a memorial service and a Marine aviator with the F-18 Hornet squadron aboard, committed a wreath to the sea.  The memorial service was followed by the committal of ashes of three persons to the deep.  Attending these services, I was surprised to find that one committal of ashes were those of a female.  Inquiring of the Chaplain about this, I learned they were the ashes of Jewel Adeline Henderson Conrad, the widow of Lofton Henderson.  After about 50 years, she wanted her ashes to join the sea off Midway, in the vicinity of her dearly beloved husband’s death in the Battle of Midway.  I was very touched by her enduring love, and upon return to North Island after deployment visited the Coronado Eagle newspaper office and collected a copy of her obituary and learned she and I lived 3 blocks apart in Coronado, on J Ave. prior to her death!  I have been studying the Battle of Midway ever since.  Soon I hope to write my book!

I have made one small contribution to the BOM Roundtable, defending ENS Gay’s ability to view the Japanese carriers while he floated until rescue from the sea.  Regarding my background, among other things, I have crossed the Pacific Ocean four times in Navy ships (once to Vietnam (the LPH 5 Princeton), once from the Gulf War to California (LHA 1 Tarawa), and a round trip on the Stennis (CVN 74) to the Persian Gulf and return.  I served as Flight Surgeon with HMM-164 in the Vietnam War, and with HMH-772, Det Alpha in the Gulf War, and as Group Surgeon with the 1st FSSG in the Iraq War.  I would like to mention that it is Navy policy that ship hull numbers to do not include a ‘tack’, that is it is CVN 74, not CVN-74.  It is frequently written in error – I think because all Navy and Marine aviation units do include a ‘tack’.  Aboard the Stennis, we managed to publish most things without the ‘tack’, however, I noticed that Admiral Hoewing, the Battle Group Commander, had fine napkins in his cabin, with a ‘tack’!!  I have contacted several ship model vendors who also make the mistake, but they say it is difficult now to correct the error for them.  Check the Naval Guide to Writing to confirm.

Best regards,
David B. Gillis, CDR MC USNR (ret)

Editor's Note:  Mr Gillis also sent a number of articles and pictures.  I have listed them all here.  You can click on any of the links to read or see the picture.  The last one is a power point presentation.  You  can download a power point presentation viewer if you don't have power point.

HMM-164 Pilots
Abe Henderson burial at sea
Yorktown Wreath
Adeline Henderson
Martha Graham
Loftin Henderson Info
Marion Carl Power Point Presentation    -    Download Power Point Viewer here

RoundTable Notes and Announcements.

From:  John Hancock CV5

A note of interest to those who served on CV5.

While living in Sarasota on the eighties my wife invited a couple for dinner.  The couple was Vice Admiral Butch Schindler and his wife Sugar.  Yorktown personnel will recall Admiral Fletcher dispatched Commander Schindler with an SBD Pilot to Australia to ask MacArthur to send air support to help turn back the Japanese invasion fleet enroot to New Guinea.  During dinner I asked Admiral Schindler if he and Captain Buckmaster were class mates at Annapolis.  Butch said Oh! hell no, Buckmaster was an old SOB he graduated in the class of 1912(as I remember).  I then asked the Admiral what class he graduated in.  He said 1918.  I thought that was funny as I entered the Navy from High School class of 1941.

From:  Andries Visser

Many thanks for the newsletter with fascinating information.

As regards Stanhope Ring’s Navy Cross: I find it incomprehensible that he received the same award as the TBD and and SBD pilots.  Strange too that no MOH’s were awarded.  Surely Waldron, Lindsey, Massey, Best, McCluskey, etc. should have been given the higher award? They were no less brave than Butch O’Hare.

Andries Visser

From:  John Mattson

Your small comment about MacArthur in the April BOM newsletter interested me.  As I have learned more about the Pacific war I continue to be amazed that MacArthur was not relieved after Dec 7/8 in the Phillipines which was, in my opinion, a far greater SNAFU than Pearl.  The commanders at Pearl were punished while doing the best they could in the circumstances (mostly), but MacArthur did near nothing for eight hours after the Pearl Harbor attack, lost a tremendous amount of assets, and got not so much as a reprimand.  Also his stubborn insistence on re-capturing the Philippines when Nimitz's preferred option, Taiwan, was turned down.  Fortunately Harry Truman finally had enough and canned him.

Has anyone published any hard look at MacArthur's performance?

From:  Scott Kair

It may be possible to shed more light- or add to the confusion- on what Mr. Russell so aptly referred to as the great imponderable of HAG’s course on the Flight to Nowhere.

There is an online computational engine that could be of use on the subject. Given my lack of background in navigation, I don’t know have any idea of what questions to ask it. There also may be a limit as to how many free queries can be answered in a given period of time, and the results will likely include much more information than necessary.

It might be helpful to utilize crowd-sourcing, as it were, and devise a set of questions that could be diffused so that several members could query it and perhaps come up with something useful. If we knew, for example, the range of Hornet’s map coordinates when HAG departed for Kido Butai, the likely courses could be punched in and we might discover with some degree of accuracy, where Midway Island or Kido Butai was relative to HAG’s position at a given time.

Below is a previous query I entered on the position of the moon near Midway Island on June 4, 1942; the query was in relation to George Gay’s statement that the moon was centered in his windscreen while VT8 was enroute to KB. It returned a good bit of extraneous information, but if you scroll down, there’s a plot of the moon’s general position in the sky through the day as seen from the atoll.

Moon in Gay's Windscreen

I wouldn’t know where to begin research, but surely the group has the collective body of acumen, experience and wisdom to determine whether the engine would be of use in clarifying the matter.

Scott Kair