Roundtable Forum
Our 19th Year
November 2015

In this issue.

Roundtable Opening Remarks
7" Guns on Midway
Dusty Kleiss - Veteran's Day
Taps for General Anderson
LCDR William G. Roy, Sr., USNR-Ret
A few comments Bill Vickrey
Aerology at Midway
Remembering Lloyd Childers
John Waldron, Fort Pierre Hero of WWII
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

Today, December 7th, marks the 74th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  For seven months Japanese forces spread out across the Pacific taking the rich resources of the Dutch East Indies, British Malaysia in the process destroying 2 more battleships this time in open water, US possessions in The Philippines, Guam, and Wake Island.  Japanese carriers raided Darwin Australia and Ceylon in the Indian Ocean.  However at 10:20 am on the morning of June 4th, 1942, about 150 miles North West of Midway Island all this came to an end as three dive bombing squadrons from Enterprise and Yorktown fatally damaged three of the four Japanese carriers.  Later the fourth Japanese carrier, Hiryu, would also be fatally damaged by the same three dive bombing squadrons.  The loss of the 4 carriers effectively ended the Japanese capability to wage an offensive war as the number of first line carriers available to each side dramtically shifted to the United States.

Many historians however do not claim this was the turning point in the pacific.  Rather they regard the US invasion of Guadalcanal and the attrition inflicted upon the Japanese Navy and Army as the true turning point.  While the losses the Japanese suffered during the Guadalcanal campaign proved impossible to replace it is hard to imagine the US taking the offensive in August of 1942 if the four carriers the Japanese lost at Midway were still around.

In addition to some fine articles this month on the Battle of Midway by our members there are some great stories on Pearl Harbor that are of interest from John Mollison.  First here is a link to an account by Stanley Lieberman of the 86th Observation Squadron of his day on December 7th.  Stanley Lieberman

Then we have VPB-20 pilot Cass Phillips Remembers Pearl Harbor

Finally an AMAZING WWII MAP: From December 11, 1941!
It didn't take the graphics folk at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader but 3 days to assemble this map of the world at war—WARNING: this file is 23meg! (but worth it for the detail).

Click here to view or download

7" Guns on Midway

Editors Note:  Last issue Chuck Wohlrab brought up the question on whether the 7" Guns were mounted on Midway Islands before the Battle.  Question here in our last issue:  6th Defense Bn. 7" Guns .  Ed Fox was kind enough to reply with his recollections.

From Ed Fox:

From our position underground, in a MG bunker near the southeastern tip of Sand we could feel the shock waves from the 7'in.

Times before patrol and after we would walk around the implacementent and wish we had projectile that size, rather than our 30 cal MG.

From our MG position the 7" guns were North of us about 150 to 200 yards, though not as close to beach we, as the 7" gun emplacements were a few yards inland. Our MG port on the beach was pointed easterly and I did think I saw the big guns pointed West as it traded 360*. We noted the 7" guns test firing at a towed target during drills. Between the 7" emplacement and our MG placement a searchlight was in place .... mounted inland hunckered down on a smooth ramp behind a mound of coral to hinder observation from sea, sat the light, till a bogey or surface target appeared. The light was moved to the top of the seawall.  If one was walking beach patrol and could hear the gun commands --- and then hear the generators crank up, ---------- This was time to pull a "Hank Snow"and get the hell out the area.

If you need further verification I am acquainted with the bother that had been at the gun I am speaking.  Hope this helps of little on the 7' in question.

Editors Note:  The next day Ed Fox sent the following note.

From Ed Fox:

I am now thinking that my original comment may be on the 5 in instead of the larger weapon. I began a narrowed search for the 7" gun over Google and found several mentions of both the 7 and 5 inch guns on Midway.  I was able to locate a graphic showing gun emplacements on both Sand and Eastern. But once I began to enlarge the screen, results were not readable. Someone more adept to this type of research may find the answer. Most electronics today are beyond me..I can still remember "cranking the EE-8" for communication.

Editors Note:  I don't think Mr. Fox gives himself enough credit for remembering the placement of the guns.  So we will confirm for him and others that his recollections were in fact accurate.  First we have in Mr. Fox an eye witness that states unequivocally that he heard and saw the 7" guns emplaced and firing practice rounds, as well as visiting the emplacements and commenting on the shells.  Although Mr. Fox may not be quite sure if these were the 7" guns or the 5" guns we can piece together the information he provided with a map of Midway to ascertain that guns he actually saw and was stationed  near were in fact the 7" guns.  First I have supplied a map taken from Marines at Midway published in 1948 to give us a map of where all the gun emplacements were at the time of the Battle.  I have marked with a small X the approximate position of Mr. Fox's MG emplacement from his account.  He stated that he was on the Southeastern tip of Sand Island and his MG emplacement was pointed East.  He stated the 7" guns were pointed West as they fired on towed targets but could train 360 degrees.  He also stated that the guns were about 100-150 yards North of his position.  The placement of the 7" guns on both Sand and Eastern makes perfect sense in that a beach landing would most likely come from the South or Southwest given the lagoon was protecting the North sides of the islands.  With this information it is likely his position as marked by the x was SouthEast of the 7" emplacements.  This would give his MG position a field of fire to the South and Southeast.  If he was nearer the 5" guns on the Northeast side of of the island his firiing position to the east makes no sense.  Plus he said he was closer to the beach than the guns and the guns were North of his position.  The 5" guns were on the opposite side of the island.  Given this information his recollections are correct.

Here is a much larger view of the map:  Larger Map of Midway Islands

Dusty Kleiss - On Veterans Day, war hero remembers Battle of Midway

From Glenn Cunningham:

I found this on CNN’s website on Vet’s Day, and thought the roundtable might like to see it.
--Glenn Cunningham

Editors Note:  I had a late entry on this post today so thought I'd add it to the article as well as post it on the current discussions page.  Anyone that has a note or message for Dusty Kleiss please send it to me and I'll post it in the current discussions page and the next newsletter.  Last time I checked he is reading the newsletter each month.

From James Leffler:

Saw the article on Dusty Kleiss in the BOMRT. Today is Pearl Harbor Day and as I think of Dusty and all his veterans from that era realizing how little time we have left with them I was wondering if there is a way to reach Dusty, maybe email or letter, etc and extend thanks and gratitude to him; article said he is the last dive bomber pilot from that day alive and I thought it would be nice to send him a Thanks. They are never forgotten, thank you again, any and all WWII and Midway veterans on this site, you all are appreciated more than you know. Salute, and Thank You.

James S. Leffler, Jr.
A1C, United States Air Force veteran

Taps for General Anderson

From Ron Russell:

I’m sorry to report the passing of GEN Earl Anderson, USMC-Ret, who left us on November 12th at the age of 96. In the BOM, he was a captain in the USS Yorktown’s Marine detachment.

General Anderson was an all-around great guy who I was pleased to know as a contributing member of the Battle of Midway Roundtable. I got to spend some time with him in person in 2007, during the joint BOM anniversary and annual Yorktown CV-5 association reunion.

Here’s a web reference on him, and a photo (attached) from the 2007 anniversary.

Like so many of his contemporaries, there goes one of the truly good guys.

LCDR William G. Roy, Sr., USNR-Ret

From Ron Russell

This may be old news, but I just spotted it in the Yorktown CV-5 association newsletter: longtime Roundtable stalwart Bill Roy passed away on April 10th of this year at the age of 95. Like so many that have gone before him, Bill was a very solid contributor to the Roundtable throughout much of its existence, but is better known through his photography during the BOM. As a Navy photographer’s mate on the Yorktown, he is responsible for many of the stunning photos from the battle that have adorned history books from the very beginning.

Here’s one example of Bill’s BOM photos that have become quintessential in virtually any BOM reference:

Bill’s page on our website:  RoundTable Link

Farewell and following seas to a good friend and Roundtable shipmate. He’s now joined an exceptionally distinguished and honored group.


A few comments

From Bill Vickrey:

I have a few comments and/or questions:

Is Howard Ady III on your mailing list? He and his Dad (the PBY PPC who first spotted the IJN carriers at Midway) came by to spend some time with in our home which led up to founding the Round Table. I have long been in touch with Howard and feel sure he would be interested in being kept up to date – although he is content living in Hawaii.  Editors Note:  He is on the mailing list and gets each newsletter notification.

I imagine Barrett has a picture of the pilots of VMF-221 before the Battle of Midway which he likely got while working with General Carl. If not, I think I can dig up a copy...but my filing system leaves much to be desired.   Editors Note:  Barrett Tillman does not have a copy of the picture if one even exists.

I seriously doubt that there is a HYPO officer – of Midway vintage – still living. Mac Showers was the last one I knew and Mac was a pretty young Ensign at the time. Mac was at the University of Iowa when Nile Kinnick was an All American and knew him well. While I was in touch with several of the HYPO officers I knew only Showers, Biard and Gil Slonim very well. There could be some junior enlisted men still living but....

As a point of interest, on the night of December 6-7 Biard and Slonim were sent out to a listening post on the northern point of Oahu with the assignment to intercept “the Winds Message.” Both of them told me they never heard a squawk about that message.

Gil once held a celebration at his condo in D. C. which was dedicated to Admiral Spruance and which he called ADMIRAL SPRUANCE, VICTOR AT MIDWAY. He was kind enough to invite me and it was a very enjoyable afternoon. Several of his 1935 Naval Academy classmates were there – and I recollect visiting with Jim Gray (CO of VF-6), Wyman Packard (on HORNET at Midway) and several others. Gil went on Spruance’s staff for Midway and served on Halsey’s staff for most of the rest of the war. He wrote an interesting magazine article which he called THE MIRACULOUS AMERICAN VICTORY. I am not sure he gave me a copy or that the copy came from Bill Price.


Aerology at Midway

From Barrett Tillman:

A widely ignored subject.

Meteorological conditions affected radio and radar, of course, but not to the extent that most militaries seemed to think prewar/early war. A Belgian gent said years ago that Luftwaffe night-fighter controllers first noticed how much migratory birds were nocturnal.

Just thought I'd mention it.

Barrett Tillman

Editors Note:  This is a really good read on the weather conditions during the Battle of Midway.  There are also very good maps to give the reader the whole picture.

Lloyd Childers

From Richard Adams:

Lloyd Childers, the sole rear gunner survivor of Torpedo Squadron 3 at Midway, died on July 15, 2015 at the age of 94. I served under him as a pilot in Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 361, a squadron he commanded in Vietnam in 1965 -1966. Childers was a wonderful leader who typified all the best qualities of a Marine commander: even-tempered, unflappable, courageous under fire, one who would not ask others to do anything he himself would not do.

I was somewhat amused to hear him say in an interview that about a month before the great battle the flight crews of VT-3 were called together and told what they could expect in combat. He said he, not yet 21, was "shocked" to hear that if they launched fifteen planes perhaps three would get through. Twenty-three years later, in May of 1965, he assembled us pilots in the ready room of the USS Valley Forge, then steaming from San Diego to Okinawa where we would train intensively before heading for Danang. He shocked most of us young Marines by saying that our job in Vietnam was not to survive, but to defeat the Viet Cong by any means possible. Most of us looked forward to combat, but, like the young Childers, had not considered the thought that we might not make it home. Thanks in large part to Childers' superb leadership, most of us did (though about half were wounded).

Editors Note:  Thanks very much for the personal account.  It is not often remembered how many of the men who fought at Midway went on to inspire, advise, and command other men going into combat.

John Waldron, Fort Pierre Hero of WWII

From John Mollison:

You might be interested in this article:

I also met with area Mayors to gauge response for my idea of making a Waldron-themed exhibit at the Pierre/Ft. Pierre airport - very positive.

However, if you’re interested in such things, I’ve posted my two newest episodes of Old Guys and Their Airplanes:

Vietnam War ex-POW Charlie Plumb’s story:

WWII ex-POW Chris Morgan’s story:

Best regards,

John Mollison

Editors Note:  It is nice to know someone is doing a good job documenting stories of the veterans of not only the Battle of Midway but others that served.  Without men like Mr. Mollison many of these stories would never be told.  Thanks much for sharing.