Roundtable Forum
Our 18th Year
June 2014

In this issue.

Battle of Midway Memorials
Merits of the F2A and F4F
Thinking of those who were at Midway...
Interview of Frank Arcidiacono
Tex Biard and Jack Fletcher
R4D-1s missions to Midway
"Mac" Showers time in Seattle
Announcements and Questions
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

June is always a special month for remembering the Battle of Midway and the men who fought the battle.  If anyone has ever flown through Midway Airport in Chicago there is a memorial set up in the concourse.  Since 2001 you have to have a ticket to gain entrance into the concourse so you can't just go to the airport and visit the memorial.  Very unfortunate but if you ever find yourself flying through Midway Airport it's worth the walk to see the memorial.

The other memorial that is always fun is the USS Midway anchored in San Diego as a museum.  This year they finished the theater where you can watch a 15 minute movie on the Battle of Midway.  The movie was shot using actors to represent various key participants in the battle and is quite good from people that have seen it and reported back to me.  I have not had the time to go to San Diego this year but hope to later this year.  They also have a good display around the theater detailing some of the battle and men who fought there.

If you have a chance to see either or both its worth the time.

We also have various articles and stories as well as some questions on the battle received this month.  I'd also like to thank Ed Fox for his suggestion that I include the Midway Airport memorial and also for his comments.  I'd also like to thank Margaret Riggs who is a volunteer for the USS Midway Museum and always gets back to me and answers any questions I might have.

One more display you might look up is in O'Hare airport, which was renamed after the war much like Midway Airport was, between Terminals 1 and 2.  Near Terminal 2 is an F4F-3 that is near perfect condition.  Every time I fly through O'Hare my connecting flights almost always mean I walk right past the display.  Every time I stop and spend a few minutes enjoying the display.

Hope all are having a great summer.

Two Battle of Midway Memorials

BOM Memorial Chicago Midway Airport USS Midway Battle of Midway Theater.

Editors Note:  We have two Memorials in this country that if you get a chance you should stop and take in.  One is fairly easy to do.  It resides in the Chicago Midway.  Just book your next flight through Chicago Midway and leave yourself some layover time in case the airline does not.  Chicago Midway was Chicago Municipal Airport when it opened in 1927.  In 1949 the airport was renamed Chicago Midway in memory of those who served in The Battle of Midway in 1942.  Much of the artwork and displays were done by Ellen Sandor who meticulously researched the battle to make sure every display was accurate.  The memorial opened in 2001.

Ed Fox wrote some words about the memorial that I'll share here.

 From Ed Fox: 

An event such as the BOM Memorial, at the Chicago Midway Airport held in June 2001 was a very involved occasion.  One will never forget the emotional feelings that day, especially this Grunt that was personally guided by Mrs. Sandor by hand as the ceremony unfolded, to observe my image on the marquee.

Otis, Price and my family had been treated like royalty that day, even Admiral Showers was escorting my wife and I through the protocol.

I haven't forgotten. Though unfortunately the public has. When I have been in invited to speak in schools, the educators tell me that they were never informed of the War in the Pacific to obtain their degree in teaching.  So much for our future and country I guess.

My intention here is to bring some appreciation to Ellen Sandor, her team, for what I believe is the first memorial for the BOM.

Editors Note:  Well said.  Below are some links to the memorial if you want to read about it.  I also found some words Mr. Fox wrote about the memorial in 2008.

Some information on the Display

Pictures of the memorial.

More words by Ed Fox on seeing the Memorial for the first time.
Editors Note:  The USS Midway also opened their Battle of Midway Experience Theater in January 2015.  I think they were also building a display and memorial but have no info at the moment but hope to hear from them later this month.  Here is a link to their site along with a trailer of the movie.  I believe the movie is only about 15 minutes long and features actors portraying parts the parts of key participants.  I have been to the USS Midway several times and highly recommend stopping by if you have the time to spend in San Diego.  It's close to the airport so even if just stopping by you can usually take it in between flights with long layovers. 

USS Midway BOM Experience page.

From Margaret Riggs on the Battle of Midway Experience:

The idea was always to make this area tell the wider story of the battle and why the USS Midway aircraft carrier was named to honor it, with the theater presentation focusing on the actual experience of the men who fought in the battle.

Two planes, an F4F Wildcat and an SBD Dauntless have been hung from the ceiling to frame the area of the theater. There are also 3 interactive video kiosks where guests can select and watch presentations about the Battle of Midway. One is Location of Midway Island and talks about why it was considered so important to the US and also to Japan, with an explanation of Admiral Yamomoto’s strategy. Another is entitled Prelude to the Battle and has a two presentations that can be selected: one about the “code breakers” at station HYPO on Hawaii and the breaking of the code JN-25 that predicted the attack on Midway Island and the second about the “order of battle” which lists Japanese and US ships and squads that participated. The third honors Heroes of Midway, nine men who played critical roles: George Gay, John C. Waldron, Max Leslie, Clarence Wade McClusky, Bert Earnest, Admiral Nimitz, John Jimmy Thach, Wilhelm Gus Esders, Richard “Dick” Best. The final framing exhibit is a time line that parallels the line that forms to enter the theater. It starts just before the Battle of Midway and continues with highlights from the service of the USS Midway.

Lots of people are looking at the exhibits, even if they decide not to view the presentation inside the theater.

Margaret Riggs
From Barrett Tillman:

Just attended the BOM presentation at the state capitol today. Full house in the old senate building, c. 100 folks. Local attorney Herb Zinn gave a detailed powerpoint presentation (I have the printout for anyone who's interested) while PBY crewman Jack Holder described Pearl, BOM, and PB4Y ops in Europe. Pretty dang sharp at 93.

RADM Denny Wisely (Ret) described CV ops then & now, mainly emphasizing why we need 'em. Credentials that won't quit: first two-kill USN pilot in Vietnam, leader of the Blues, CO JFK (67) and a coupla flag slots.

John Butler's niece accepted a plaque presented on behalf of the governor, as he was Arizona's best-known BOM participant. Narrator said her father also flew in WW II but I didn't get to ask whether USN or Brand X. Governor Ducey also declared today the 4th annual Battle of Midway Remembrance Day.

Got a chance to examine the barrels from BBs Arizona & Missouri, installed last year I believe. Nicely displayed with suitable plaques. The BB-39 tube was relined and went to war in Nevada.

Barrett sends

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More about July 4 on Midway!

Merits of the F2A and F4F

From Barrett Tillman:

The FM-2 "Wilder Wildcat" was mentioned in the F2A/F4F comparison.

Here's a revelation:

Long ago I was surfing thru the massive Naval Aviation Statistics page on the NavHistory website (the previous one, which was usable, unlike the present one.) Crunching numbers, I compiled this info:

FM-2s scored 432 aerial victories, losing 13 to enemy aircraft. Which = a kill-loss ratio of THIRTY-TWO TO ONE.

That has to be an all-time record for piston fighters, probably only exceeded by the F-15, currently c. 103 to 0. (Caveat: we know that all aerial victory claims are erroneous. All of them. But we gotta start somewhere.)

The reasons for the FM-2's lopsided record are varied:

FMs operated solely from CVEs, devoted to ASW and CAS. Therefore, the relatively little air-air action was mainly against small Japanese formations or singles/pairs. Wilder Wildcats easily could handle that threat. Additionally, a well-flown FM-2 was a match for an A6M5 if the Wildcat fought its own fight. By mid-late war, Golden Wingers often entered combat with 500-600 hours total time, maybe 200 in type. Made a big difference.

Barrett sends

Thinking of those who were at Midway...

From Nancy Canavan Heslop:

I know I can't be the only one thinking about our friends who were at Midway... Just about this time all hell was breaking loose. One friend of my family, John Carey, was badly injured that first day, but lived to tell the tale... albeit ALWAYS with a limp. His recovery took a long time and I never saw him take a step without a limp. Yet he continued to fly...

(My father and Claude Larkin each flew an R4D-1 up to Midway as the battle was ending to bring in much needed water and more ammo. The desalinization plant was damaged in the battle and Midway needed water badly.)

We remained friends until the very day he died, on my birthday in 2004. He woke that morning and reached for something that was not there, then slipped away. Throughout my life, John Francis Carey was a compass for our family. The following month, my father Des Canavan became very ill. When I arrived at the hospital, my father told me that John Carey had come to visit him...My knees caved. I didn't doubt it for a minute. These two men had been flying together since 1938... at Quantico. Des' Logs weave a tapestry of history in flights. Midway, from Midway... Six months later from North Island, Des Canavan flew Carey up to see the brand new F4U's, their friend Bill Gise's squadron had just received the new fighters...

Attached is an old photo taken 12 years before they died.

-Nancy Canavan Heslop

Interview of Frank Arcidiacono

From Charles P. Flick:

I always enjoy the Roundtable. I received a notice of the re-publication of a 2002 interview of Frank Arcidiacono published in the Charlotte (Florida) Sun newspaper. He flew on PBYs. Perhaps it might be of interest to the Roundtable. I did a search of the site and did not see his name mentioned. Here is the link:


Tex Biard and Jack Fletcher

From Stephen Regan:

Both John Lundstrom and I had lengthy conversations with Tex Biard who served on Fletcher's staff at Coral Sea. My initial reaction to him was that he was seriously mentally ill. His vehement and venomous attacks on Fletcher were way over the top. He said he had proof positive that Fletcher could have ended that war at Coral Sea but he adamantly refused to provide any details or allow me to see his memoirs.

Subsequent discussions with people who knew Fletcher stated that the Admiral had absolutely zero confidence with Biard who refused to give his boss any insights about how Biard's conclusions were reached. He absolutely expected the TF Commander to have faith in his conclusions and make task force level decisions based on Biard's minimal information. Fletcher and his staff thought Biard was somewhat of a fruitcake.

I believe that the problem comes down to eccentricities. Biard, like many of the crypto community, were brilliant folks that did not fit the standard spit-and-polish of surface warfare officers. Heck, Joe Rochefort himself was a little different from the usual Academy type. Fletcher seemed to have little understanding of radio intelligence, nor did his staff. Biard struck Fletcher as an oddball, and therefore, he held him in less than stellar esteem. In the final analysis, the Biard/Fletcher relationship was doomed from the beginning. I think that Fletcher should have been more receptive to Biard. But I truly believe that Biard totally failed in providing a foundation for trust and understanding. He simply ended up an outcast and whiner.

Dr. Stephen D. Regan, Ed.D.

Editors Note:  Thanks very much for the information.  One problem Fletcher was faced with was that he was responsible for one half the US Navy's carrier strength in the Pacific during the battle of Coral Sea.  An unfortunate fact of the matter is that the United States Navy had only one Aviator as a top line commander when the war broke out, William Halsey.  Fletcher was a fairly conservative commander for a variety of reasons.  One, he did not fully understand Carrier warfare yet, not to say anyone did at this time, and two he couldn't risk the two carriers on information that was somewhat questionable.  I have never read or heard of anyone predicting from which direction the two Japanese carriers would enter Coral Sea.  We simply did not have the same kind of intelligence that came to light a month later.  If Biard did have this info but refused or couldn't divulge where he got it then the problem was with him or further up the chain of command that would not allow Fletcher in on the secret.  Since Fletcher was briefed on the source of the intelligence at Midway it is hard to believe he was not also given the same consideration at Coral Sea.

R4D-1s missions to Midway Des Canavan DFC Recommendation & Letter June 6, 1942

From Nancy Canavan Heslop:

According to his log Des flew R4D-1: BuNo:3133 from San Diego to Ewa Field in a 16.2 hour flight, "11 hours night flying on above hop" and following orders... in radio silence as well.

Recovering from that nerve-racking trip he wrote his wife, Marie, now 16.2 hours east of Oahu, a hopeful letter...

Dearest: 6 June 1942

I don't know just when I'll get back-probably not until the present crisis is over, so I'll just let you know that I am well and thinking of you. Our trip was a huge success. Everything worked out as anticipated and the big man said 'well done' in fact we have a radiogram to prove it.

My little visit back there was so pleasant darling. I relish the memory of it almost as the actual vacation so to speak.

Big things are happening out here as you know from the newspapers. It looks very favorable and may be the turning point of the war.

John C.[Carey] is in the hospital here but is not hurt too bad, in fact will be O.K. in a couple of weeks. You might pass that word on to Delpha.

I hope your health is good and not causing you too much distress. I'm very excited about the coming year and the things it is to bring.

Please write my mother and give her the details and tell her that I'm O.K. in this present business out here.

I love you very much my darling and hope to see you soon, conditions permitting. There will be some bad news around Coronado but keep your chin up and help people all you can. Again I love you.


Of course, we all know that John Carey's injuries were more extensive and required that he be pulled from his shot-up Grumman F4F: BuNo 4006 with its crumpled landing gear. He would be sent stateside to recover as the Wildcat's steel smashed both his legs.

Des' optimism about the year ahead included the good news of a pending pregnancy for Marie. Living on Oahu, they had lost an infant in a choking accident in November 1941, just before the Japanese attack. They had been advised to try for another baby right away. Though Marie was naturally nervous, the plan worked.

Des' records show that he was then ordered on June 6, 1942, on a confidential mission into Midway, a temporary assignment to assist MAG-22 CO Ira Kimes. I've found in his file a later recommendation, dated 11 March 1943, from Claude Larkin to the Commandant asking that Major Desmond E. Canavan be awarded The Distinguished Flying Cross. Ira Kimes heartily endorsed the recommendation.

I understand that NO AWARDS were given. I don't know if it's proper to show the recommendations or not, but it has been 73 years... Can I be permitted to be a little bit proud of these gentlemen?

-Nancy Canavan Heslop

"Mac" Showers time in Seattle

From Evan Filby:

Came across the bio of Rear Admiral “Mac” Showers during the course of research for a biography I am doing (not of Showers).  I got a Google “hit” on him because of his brief time at the 13th Naval District in Seattle.  So my “generic” question is: Do you know if there is any information available about Showers’ time in Seattle?

The Showers info says he received counter-intelligence training while he was stationed in Seattle, apparently in the period from about September 1941 through January 1942.  BTW, are those dates accurate?

As it happens, the fellow whose biography I am doing was in charge of counter-intelligence operations and training at the 13th Naval District during that period. His name was Commander Luke S. May, and he was Assistant to the District Intelligence Officer — his Fitness Report for October 1941 through March 1942 was prepared by Captain W. J. Giles.

Commander May was a well-regarded criminologist [private detective] … based in Seattle, but he also helped establish crime labs in Chicago, for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and — behind the scenes — the FBI. From about 1934 onward, as a Naval Reserve officer, he worked in a Volunteer status for the DIO, writing procedures and training officers in counter-intelligence. After all, doing background checks on prospective employees or people applying for credit is not much different from checking out people who have applied for a security clearance. The materials Cmdr. May developed during those years formed the basis for what Ensign Showers would have learned during his time in Seattle. It would be really appreciated if I could confirm that Luke trained a man who went on to have such a distinguished career as Rear Admiral Showers.

Editors Note: I don't have any information on Admiral Showers time in Seattle.  But perhaps someone can chime in with any information they might have.

Announcements and Questions

Halsey's Bluff

From Larry Schweikart:
My book, Halsey’s Bluff, which several members of BOM Roundtable vetted, commented on, and added to, and which I self published years ago, has been picked up for publication next year by Winged Hussar Books under the same title. The book is a counterfactual where Yamamoto, not Nagumo, is in charge of the Midway fleet and Halsey is in charge of the Americans. In this counterfactual, the Japanese win the Battle of Midway, and the real excitement is in what happens next . . . .

Incredible Victory

From Pat and Freda:

I'm curious why Walter Lord's Incredible Victory wasn't listed as a book review reference? I found it to be very detailed and was unable to put it down once started.

Editors Note:  That is a very good question. The only answer I have is that all the reviews were done by the previous host of the RoundTable.  If you go to the Midway Library he lists Incredible Victory as the 4th best book on Midway so it's not like he ignored it.  I'm updating the book reviews on the site as I get time now so I'll include a review in the future.

Scale map of Ship and Aircraft Movements during the Battle of Midway

From Joe Caulkins:

I am making a map with an aerial view of midway showing ship and aircraft movements on scale. If there is something like this, or a timeline of radio messages giving positions or the like, it would be greatly appreciated.

Editors Note:  I don't have anything I recall that sums up the radio transmissions and aircraft placement at various times during the battle. Likely nothing like that exists as most were under radio silence for most of the battle.

From Joe Caulkins:

Are ship movements recorded even if aircraft movements are not? Thank you for the assistance.

Editors Note:  Yes the ships log should have all the info as to the ship's position and time. I believe most ships logs are available for research in the national archives or possibly the naval history archive.  Hope this helps.  If you complete the map I think all members would be interested in seeing it.

Bill Price Remembered

From Den Reilly:

I, too, am saddened to hear of the passing of Bill Price, our founder. The term "gentleman and scholar" isn't very original, but it applies. Although Bill was in contact with Midway vets and celebrated historians, he welcomed all with an interest in further developing the record of Midway and other early PTO actions. Robyn Adair is one who was able to make a significant contribution, thanks to Bill's open acceptance. Wishing you fair winds to carry you home, Bill.

Thank you for carrying on the tradition.

Best Regards,
Den Reilly

Yorktown CV-5 Veteran Jack D. Barrett

From Cathy Fornes:

I am attaching a photo that I sent to Laura Orr. She is still interested in my Dad’s story for other projects/presentations on WWII.  My Dad is the one in the lower right-hand corner.

Fate of Airmen at Midway

From Mac McCaffrey:

Does anyone know what became of Lt. John Hart who flew with VT-3 at Midway?

Editors Note:  I don't have a Lt. John Hart listed. However a Lt. Patrick H. Hart was a pilot with VT-3 at Midway. He was listed as missing in action after the attack on the Japanese fleet.

 From Mac McCaffrey:

Many thanks—Patrick is the correct name—my mistake. I asked because he looks like the twin brother of an old friend of mine. VT-3’s picture is on page 97 of  “A Glorious Page In Our History”—I highly recommend it as an excellent source of Midway and the battle’s history.

Now—another question---ENS Wesley F. Osmus was shot down and parachuted into the sea, was picked up by a Japanese DD and reportedly executed by being thrown overboard. How did the U.S. learn of this and were any Japanese ever held accountable for this atrocity? Osmus also appears in the photo of VT-3 . There was one other similar incident reported—ENS. O’Flaherty of VB-3 and his gunner, Bruno Gaido were also picked up by a Japanese DD and executed—one wonders how we ever learned about it.

Thanks again for your response—hope to hear further from you. Mac McCaffrey

Editors Note:  It was not until the war ended that the United States learned the fate of the three airmen captured by the Japanese during the battle after seeing the official Japanese action report of the engagement by Admiral Nagumo.  In the report, commonly referred to now as 'The Japanese Story of the Battle of Midway' translated by the Office of Naval Intelligence in 1947.  Intelligence obtained from enemy POW's was outlined in the report but the statement that lead to further investigation as a possible war crime was the statement that Ensign Osmus died on June 6th after being interrogated.  After obtaining the names of crewmen that served on both destroyers during the battle still alive at the end of the war the full story surfaced.  Although I looked for any possible war crimes being pursued I believe the men thought to be most responsible were killed during the war so no charges were ever brought against anyone involved.

From Nancy Heslop:

I guess the question in the current thread about John Hart was actually referring to Patrick Hart.

However, there was a Major John Hart attached to Ewa Field MAG-21 when the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941... I have pictures listing of ALL the gentlemen who were part of MAG-21 at that time. Pre-WWII Marine Corps aviators who became the corps leadership for the build-up of USMC aviation in the Pacific Theatre... and a few were en-route to San Diego to begin new squadrons.

Seven months later my father's letter of July 10, 1942, asks my mother back in Coronado, "Is Mrs. Hart still your neighbor?'

My mother had been evacuated from Pearl Harbor with Eleanor Forster Brown and her infant son Lance in early January 1942, aboard the USS Harris. When they landed in San Diego, my mother only had her clothes and her car, which was used for ballast. She didn't have much cash, but as early evacuee, she was welcomed to stay in an apartment at the Hotel El Cordova until she received her allotment. Mother stayed there for just over a year.

I suspect Mrs. Hart came to have an apartment near or at the El Cordova... Joe Henderson's wife was also there and was preparing to share an apartment with Marie Canavan when her husband was killed at Midway in June.

Des' Log for July 3, 1942, shows repeated trips back and forth from Ewa Field to Ford Island in R4D-1: BuNo 3143. I believe Des was transporting troops for embarkation from Ford Island. The big build-up now was for Palmyra, the Solomons and Guadalcanal.

With wartime promotions, Mrs. Hart's husband, John, was now a Lt. Colonel, and CO of the new unit VMO-251 that was underway to Noumea on board the USS Heywood. Des' former squadron commander of VMJ-252 at Ewa Field, Charles "Fog" Hayes had become the CO of VMF-251 which by June '42 had become an observation unit. (I believe they left from the west coast, but would have to double-check. Perhaps a reader is familiar with this.)

Arriving on July 12th, the outfit no sooner got unloaded than it was told to go to the new field at Espiritu Santo in the Northern New Hebrides. According to, the squadron was ready by Aug.11th and fitted with sixteen long-range photographic planes, but the wing-tanks for long-range work were left back on Pearl. They were flown out and arrived on Aug. 20th.

Around mid-July 1942, Bob Galer & John Dobbin, who would later be godfathers to my sister & brother respectively, learned that they would be deploying from Hawaii. John Dobbin served as Exec. Officer to Bob Galer, CO of VMF-224. When they left Hawaii, Galer's squadron of fighters was accompanied by VMSB-231.

Des returned from another trip to Midway where he ran into Jack Cram who reported to Des that he had heard Des was about to be a daddy. (Marie's successful pregnancy was big news amongst those who knew of the tragic loss of their infant Susan just before the blitz.)

While Des was at Midway, Des' friend and Eleanor Forster Brown's husband, Fletcher Lance Brown shipped out on the USS Long Island on August 1st as Exec. Officer of VMSB 232, under DIck Mangrum. Des wrote, "Brownie left for crocodile country. I miss his bitching and his propensity for drinking my liquor..." Sadly, though Des was godfather to Lance Brown's infant, also named Lance, his father never got to see him again. Brown was lost after a bombing mission in late September 1942. He failed to return from his mission.

Your "Lost in '42" listings mentioned Fletcher "Lance" Brown. I so appreciated seeing his name...
Best regards,

Japanese Battle of Midway Veteran Interviews

From Dexter Thomas:

I have always have had a big interest in the Pacific Theater, especially the First Team and Shattered Sword.  Reading books like Shattered Sword and other books I was wondering what was it like trying to interview various Japanese participants of the battle?  Were there any cultural clashes, issues with them opening up after being silent for so long, things like that.

Editors Note:  John Toland wrote The Rising Sun, a two volume set, predominately from the Japanese point of view, interviewed many surviving Japanese on the war.  Walter Lord's Incredible Victory and Day of Infamy had accounts from many of the Japanese participants.  Many were willing to share their experiences from accounts in the books while others were more reluctant or unwilling altogether.  But that more or less follows our own veterans when it comes to talking about the war.  Since I've taken over the duties of hosting the RoundTable I've had 3 or 4 occasions to trade emails with sons or daughters of men who participated in the Battle of Midway, supplying them with various articles or information on various events or friends they made during the war.  But they are not interested in being interviewed or writing anything on their participation in the battle.  For any number of reasons they choose to remain silent. So it is perhaps the same with the Japanese men who fought in the war. More a personal choice than anything else.