Roundtable Forum
Our 19th Year
June 2016

In this issue.

Heroes among us, Dusty Kleiss
Winds Message
Aircraft carried on Galley Deck
Captain Richard E. Fleming, USMC
Harry Ferrier
The Battle of Midway at 74
Marine Aviators at the Battle of Midway
John Waldron Memorial Dedication
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

June 3rd - 7th, 2016 marked the 74th anniversary of the Battle of Midway.  There is not a lot to be said that has not already been said except to say to our veterans, thank you very much for your sacrifice and your time discussing the battle with us.  Many personal stories or personal observations over the years have been brought to light on the RoundTable as well as published in Ron Russell's book No Right to Win.  Previously they were not available anywhere and for that we all thank you very much.

I'd like to relate a personal story here that has only slight ties to the Battle of Midway.  Earlier this month I had the good fortune to be introduced to Don McPherson.  For those of you that don't know the name he was a Hellcat pilot in the later part of the war that flew off the Essex.  He shot down 5 planes, making him and ace, and also destroyed one on the ground.  Turns out he lives in Adams, Nebraska which is only about 15 miles from Lincoln.  I had not known of him till a good friend of mine was talking with one of our other friends and his name came up.  Turns out they knew him.  So my friend Don Young, who is also a history buff, asked if he could call him.  After talking with him for a bit on the phone Don McPherson invited him down for lunch at the cafe in town and then over to his house for a look at all his memorabilia.  I was invited along and it was a great few hours talking to him.

At any rate after spending an hour at the cafe and maybe a little more at his home where he showed us his collection, which interestingly enough was interrupted by the Nebraska Historical Society asking for an interview, we departed an all to short visit.  We did take some pictures and he gave us a print and a story about the one mission where he shot down 3 on the same day.  He was very gracious and had a lot of great stories.

A little while later my friend Don Young, who has had a relationship with a company called Avedon and Colby, was on the phone and chatted with Burt Avedon who was a Flying Tiger and then flew Corsairs later in the war.  At any rate after our talk with Don McPherson and then talking to Burt Avedon he got them to phone each other and chat a bit.  Nice to see.

Why and I telling you this.  Well for one Burt Avedon made a comment that really stuck.  He said after all these years he wondered if anyone even remembered what he or any of his fellow pilots did and it was very nice to have someone call him and talk with him that was informed enough to carry on a conversation about his particular part in the war.  From my meeting with Don McPherson I got kind of the same feeling although not as much.  Apparently he has requests several times a month for autographs and such.

So as we remember the Battle of Midway this month and what the victory meant to not only the war at the time but how it has impacted us years later take some time to look up a veteran.  You might be surprised at exactly how close some of them are.  Give them some time if opportunity presents itself.

Enjoy the June issue where we have many contributions as usual and I thank you all for the continuing support.

Heroes among us, Dusty Kleiss - Battle of Midway

From Bill Vickrey:

Here is an interesting article forwarded to me by Captain Earle Rogers, USN (Ret). For a long time, Captain Rogers was the Chief Operating Officer of the National Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola.

Forward from Captain Earle Rogers, USN (Ret).

A few weeks ago, while on the web trying to answer a Navy uniform question, this Navy History article showed up. The article talks about a hero of the Battle of Midway. As I read the article, I realized I had known this gentleman when he was a schoolteacher in Berkeley Springs. He also taught a surveying course in the adult Ed classes at Rumsey Vo Tech near Hedgesville. I took his surveying course in the mid 70's. He mentioned flying in the Navy and since I was still serving in the Naval Reserves we naturally talked about airplanes and flying. During our conversation, he mentioned flying dive bombers in WW2 and that he was at the battle of Midway. I said we were fortunate to get him back from that battle. He didn't dwell on the subject, but stated sadly that he had lost many friends there.

Here is his story.

Bart Rogers
Shepherd Field Historian

From Jonathan Horne:

I’m saddened to hear that BOM member Dusty Kleiss has passed.

I'm Jonathan Horne, son of BOM member Philip Horne, SOC pilot USS New Orleans. Phil is still living in Santa Rosa, he will be 99 on June 23. I can forward emails to him. He is lucid but in failing health. I’m sure he would love to hear from you.

Philip Horne
Santa Rosa, CA

Editors Note:  If anyone has anything you'd like to send to Philip Horne please send it to the RoundTable email address and I'll pass it on to his son.  Here are the entries from Philip Horne's diary send to me by his son on the days of the Battle of Midway.

Below is an excerpt from the appropriate dates, written in real time without knowing the historical significance.

Monday June 1.
We fueled today and after the fueling operations the tanker left us. We are to patrol N.W of Midway to prevent a possible expected attack there.

Steaming a round patrolling this area. Nothing unusual has happened. No VO-VS flying.

Wednesday 3June
The attack on Midway was begun tonight, also last night the Japs attacked Dutch Harbor, Aleutian Islands. We are heading South to intercept the force reported as being 5 carriers, 2-4 battleships, cruisers and destroyers. Also a large number of troop transports.

Thursday June 4
At 0914 G.Q. was sounded. A large Jap force was reported and all three carriers (the Yorktown joined us Wednesday-Task force 17) sent out attack groups. Midway Island was attacked and messed up quite badly. Our attack groups are reported to have arrived just as the Japs were launching planes for an attack on Midway and quite a few were shot down. Only one TBD returned to the carrier and it landed in the water evidently out of gas. The men were picked up. Enemy planes transferred their attention from Midway to us and the Yorktown was attacked twice and was badly damaged. She was abandoned except for a skeleton crew. She will probably be towed back to Pearl later if they can keep (36) her afloat. Some of the carrier planes landed at Midway. We still do not know what damage was done to the enemy, but the damage was thought to be considerable. We were secured from GQ at 2220.

Friday June5
We are chasing the Japs, trying to get close enough to deliver the killing punch. We still do not know for sure what damage has been done but they are retreating. About 1800 an attack group was launched against burning enemy ships. All planes were accounted for after the attack. The Japs seem to have no planes in the air. Four torpedo boats joined up with us this afternoon. They were looking for for pilots forced down at sea during yesterdays attacks. Lots of PBYs were in the area also evidently searching for survivors. Our attack seems to have been quite successful although we do not yet know the details of the damage done. Our only losses have been in planes and the Yorktown badly damaged and possibly lost. We headed back NE to get out of range of enemy bombers from Wake Island.

Still heading ENE. We will fuel probably tomorrow.

Winds Message

From Bill Vickrey:

Let me stir up a dispute. OK?

On the night of December 6-7 “Tex” Biard and Gill Slonim were at a listening point on the north of Oahu listening for the “winds” message. Both told me that they heard nothing. The general consensus is that this message was never sent.

Yet – on 25 January 1946 – Captain L.. F. Stafford, USN – made this statement before the JOINT COMMITTEE ON THE INVESTIGATION OF THE PEARL HARBOR ATTACK:

“There was a Winds Message. It meant War – and we knew it meant War. By the best estimate that can be made from my recollection and the circumstantial evidence now available, the “Winds Message” was part of a Japanese Overseas ‘News’ Broadcast from Station JAP (Tokyo) on 11989 kilocycles beginning at 1330 Greenwich Civil Time on Thursday December 4, 1941. The time corresponded to 10:30 P. M. Tokyo time and 8:30 a. m. Washington time, December,December 4, 1941. The broadcast was probably in Japanese Morse code and was originally written in the Kata-Kana form of written, plain-language Japanese. It was intercepted by the U. S. Navy at the big radio station at Cheltenham, Maryland......”


Aircraft carried on Galley Deck

From James Leffler:

Per “Aircraft on Gallery Deck”, I have been on the USS Yorktown CV10 in Mt Pleasant South Carolina and have never seen or been told there are any aircraft or room for them below the normal hangar deck. Now some areas are kept chained off but I would think with all the planes on the flight deck and hangar deck and room overhead for more that there wouldn’t be any. The gentleman asking the question could probably contact the folks at Patriots Point in Mt Pleasant for more information, as I don’t know 100 percent if that was possible.

James S. Leffler, Jr

Editors Note:  I have looked extensively for any indication that US carriers had any capacity to carry addtional aircraft on the Galley deck.  The Galley deck was more or less reserved for ready rooms or briefing rooms so the crew could get to the flight deck as soon as possible when needed.  US carriers had only one hanger deck.  Additional aircraft were stored by hanging them from the ceiling of the hanger.  In many cases the hanger was not high enough to unfold the wings (see our discussion on why the red circles were not painted out on the Devastators).

Japanese carriers had two hangers, and upper and a lower.  Akagi and Kaga even had a third hanger used to store fully assembled spare aircraft unlike Soryu and Hiryu which had to store the spares unassembled.  So it is likey that for some reason the artist may have drawn the picture without any real knowledge of working US carriers.  Below are two drawings.  The first is the cross section of the Essex showing the armor of the carrier.  Notice that only one hanger deck is shown.  The second is the Yorktown class carriers.  Again you can only see one hanger deck.  Any Galley deck is clearly not sufficient to fit an aircraft.

Click here for a lager view of the Yorktown cutaway drawing.

Captain Richard E. Fleming, USMC

From Barrett Tillman:

From a former Army guy who speaks Aviation. I inserted most of the paragraph breaks.


For many years our Twin Cities Aero Historians have met at the Fleming Field regional airport in South St. Paul, Minnesota. About ten years ago one of our past presidents, and my friend, Ken Hornby (who took a few years of absence during the early 1980s to work as a US Army tank driver in Germany), prepared the following history for a permanent display at the airfield. It earned him our Historian Of The Year award. Now I am proud to share my friend’s work with on the eve of Fleming’s deed.

Capt. Richard E. Fleming USMCR and the Battle of Midway

By Ken Hornby

A Promising Start

Richard Eugene Fleming was born on November 27, 1917 to Michael E. Fleming and Octavia M. Forgette Fleming of St. Paul, Minnesota. Dick, as he was popularly known, grew up in St. Paul and in September of 1931 enrolled at the St. Thomas Military Academy. A brilliant student, Dick early became a leading cadet on the campus. His 1935 yearbook entry described him as “…the dashing and fiery captain of “C” company. A debonair man-about-town…His magnetic personality and merry wit make him welcome the school over by his classmates. St. Thomas has every reason to be proud of Dick.” His activities and honors during his four years there included membership in Masquers Club 1932, Best Platoon 1932, Best Company 1932, Debate Team 1934, Noncom Club 1934, Crack Platoon 1934, Tusculanum Club President 1935, Kaydet (yearbook) Staff 1935, Officer’s Club 1935, and he was promoted to Cadet Captain September, 1934. The Tusculanum Club was the most distinguished organization on campus. It was formed by a small group of exceptional students who had persevered through four rigorous years of Latin. He graduated cum laude in June 1935. It was also during this time that he met Peggy Crooks at a local diner and they began an exclusive relationship lasting until his death. Peggy stayed devoted to the memory of Dick Fleming and, although she received several proposals over the years, she never married.

In the Fall of 1935 he enrolled at the University of Minnesota, where he joined the Delta Epsilon Fraternity, becoming its president before graduating with a B.A. degree in journalism in 1939. On a spur of the moment in December of 1938, Dick had taken a physical examination for the Air Corps and was one of nine who passed out of 200 applicants. On January 20, 1940, Fleming enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve and applied for flight training. He was sent to the Naval Air Station at Pensacola, Florida and finished at the top of his class in 1940. He was first stationed at San Diego and it was there that he put his journalism degree to use, publishing several aviation articles in the Marine Corps Gazette. By February, 1941, Fleming was at Pearl Harbor, where he was assigned as navigation officer to VMSB-231, flying Vought SB2U-3 “Vindicator” dive-bombers. All the officers had personal tents and it wasn’t until just before the Pearl Harbor attack that they moved into new barracks. There were many fine beaches in the area, and they had the use of recreational facilities at the nearby Ewa sugar plantation. A squadron-mate recalled that Dick particularly enjoyed going into Honolulu for Chinese dinners and swimming at Waikiki. Most of the officers dated girls in Honolulu, but not Dick. He had a gal back home. He enjoyed classical music and also played the organ for silent films on Saturdays at a local movie theater. He spoke in a clear, positive manner, and was well liked by those who knew him.

War Begins

When the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Fleming’s squadron was on board the carrier Lexington which was delivering them as reinforcements to Midway and was not present during the attack. Lexington, with Dick Fleming and the rest of VMSB-231 still aboard, returned to Pearl Harbor on December 10. On December 17 Fleming’s squadron was ordered to fly to Midway Island to begin flying reconnaissance missions. Their 17 aircraft were equipped with external drop tanks to insure that they could make the entire 9 hour and 45 minute trip of 1,137 miles over the open ocean. At the time the flight set a record for the longest over water flight for a squadron of single engine planes.

On March 1, 1942, the squadron was reorganized as VMSB-241 under the command of Major Lofton R. Henderson. While at Midway Fleming and his squadron flew reconnaissance and anti-submarine patrols and trained on their dive-bombing and navigation skills. Living conditions at Midway more austere than anything they had experienced in Hawaii. They were quartered in underground bunkers with timbers and coral sand for overhead protection, six men to a bunker. A single light bulb hanging from the ceiling provided light. The only recreation was swimming and they got mail only once a month. The squadron’s training drastically diminished in early Spring when the canvas covering the rear fuselage of their “Vindicators” began to disintegrate in the tropical environment. They repaired the rips with doped-over medical tape and restricted the aircraft to a maximum 30 degree glide. Training efforts virtually ceased on May 23 when there was an accidental explosion which destroyed 400,000 gallons of aviation fuel forcing strict rationing. After this accident all refueling had to be done by hand from 55 gallon drums.

On May 26, 1942, Fleming’s squadron received 18 Douglas SBD-2 “Dauntless” dive-bombers and 18 pilots fresh out of flying school. Dick Fleming, among the few experienced flyers acquainted with the Vought SB2U, set to work training the new Marine pilots. Because of the different operating characteristics of the squadron’s planes, the squadron commander divided it into two groups: one consisting of the new SBD-2s and the other of 12 SB2U-3s. The newly promoted Captain Fleming, now number 2 in the command section with the SBD-2s, continued training and patrolling around Midway, never making enemy contact. In his letters home, he fretted about spending the war in the backwaters. That would soon change.

The Battle of Midway: The First Day

Forewarned of impending battle through the secret decoding of intercepted Japanese communications by U.S. Navy Intelligence, on June 1 the Midway garrison was placed on full alert. The Japanese planned to invade the atoll, with its airfield and support facilities, as a prelude to moving directly against the Hawaiian Islands. An invasion of the Aleutian Islands off Alaska was also undertaken as a diversion to split the American defenses. The majority of American Naval combat power in the Pacific was assembled near Midway. In addition to Army and Marine air and ground forces on the island, the U.S. Navy had two Task Forces in the vicinity consisting of 221 operational aircraft on the carriers Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown, (hastily repaired after the Battle of the Coral Sea in May), accompanied by eight cruisers, fourteen destroyers, and other assorted support ships. In contrast, the Japanese had eight aircraft carriers, eleven battleships, twenty-three cruisers, sixty-five destroyers and scores of support ships including a group of 12 troop transports carrying the Midway invasion force, a total of about 185 ships and 700 planes. The Japanese fleet was divided into two main groups: The Invasion Force consisting of the troop transports with attendant warships, and the Striking Force with the majority of their aircraft carriers.

Early on June 3, a Navy Consolidated PBY “Catalina” reconnaissance aircraft observed portions of the Japanese Invasion Force, about 700 miles out, steaming towards Midway. Still out of range of the single-engined Navy and Marine aircraft stationed on Midway, Army B-17 Flying Fortress bombers made an ineffectual attack on the Japanese fleet late in the day. That night, PBY patrol planes armed with torpedoes and flown by volunteer crews made several attacks but inflicted no serious damage. On the evening of June 3, Major Henderson had gathered his squadron and told them the composition of the Japanese fleet about to attack them. Knowing the odds they faced and the poor condition of their aircraft, he said the mission most likely coming the next day would be a voluntary affair. Expecting the Japanese to attack at any time, Fleming told his rear-seat man, radioman-gunner Corporal Eugene T. Card, “Sleep in your clothes tonight”.

By the morning of June 4 the Striking Force was within range of Midway and at 4:45am launched an attack on the island with 108 planes. At 5:30am one of the ubiquitous PBYs spotted the Japanese carriers 180 miles out. With the carriers located and an incoming attack bound for the island, there was a confused scramble to clear Midway airfield and mount an assault against the Japanese ships. First off were Navy torpedo planes, followed by Army bombers, then Marine fighters and finally, at 6:15, the Marine dive bombers of VMSB-241. It was just in time, as the first bombs began falling at 6:16am. The dive-bombers were divided into 16 SBDs under Maj. Henderson and a separate section of 11 SB2Us under the squadron Executive Officer, Major Ben Norris. Cpl Card, in the back seat of Fleming’s SBD, informed his pilot that he noticed heavy anti-aircraft fire and columns of smoke beginning to rise from Midway. “Well, this is it all right,” Fleming responded. Their flight out was relatively uneventful. In the command section Fleming took the lead position as Major Henderson flew off to one side, shepherding his inexperienced new pilots along. The SDB was equipped with simple flight controls in the gunner’s station and Card had occasionally flown during training. At about 7:00am Fleming had Card take over and hold the course while Fleming worked on his navigation board.

At around 7:50am another SBD pulled alongside and the pilot gestured down to the left. Card craned his neck, but couldn’t see anything; then Fleming said over the intercom, “We’ve made contact. There’s a ship at ten o’clock.” Card looked again, and through a large hole in the clouds saw a long, slender black ship headed towards Midway. Fleming took control of their plane again as the SBDs continued on. Through breaks in the clouds they could see more and more of the slender, black ships all heading in the same direction. Suddenly, through a large clear space they saw four carriers steaming in close formation and launching aircraft. At 7:55am Maj. Henderson’s calm voice came over the radio, “Attack two enemy CV on port bow.” Henderson slid back into formation to take them in and just as they began to descend, Card heard Fleming shout over the intercom, “Here they come!” Card caught a glimpse of streaks of smoke flying past their starboard wing, then a Zero fighter flashed by, climbing almost straight up. Major Henderson was hit almost immediately and his left wing began to burn. He fought it all the way down, trying to keep his squadron formation intact, but his SBD was soon out of control, slanting toward the sea. Cpl. Card noticed fragments from another plane tumbling through the sky and saw a parachute, but with fighters coming at them from all angles had no time to tell who it was. With the Zeroes still hounding them, heavy anti-aircraft fire began bursting around them as they entered a cloud. When they emerged on the far side it was worse than ever. With Henderson shot down, Fleming assumed lead of the section and from 2,000 feet they began their glide-bombing run on the carrier Hiryu.

As they came in close to the ship the SBD lurched. Small holes appeared all over the cockpit and Card was hit in the right ankle. Fleming, firing his forward guns at the Hiryu’s gun crews, pressed home his attack through the Zeroes and heavy anti-aircraft fire, released his bomb achieving a near miss near the stern, and pulled out at just 300 feet. They leveled out about even with the flight deck and went out over the bow, heading back toward Midway. As they passed over the ship the SBD lurched a second time. Card was wounded again, this time in the left leg. The blast tore through the cockpit and knocked out the instrument panel. Fleming later told Card he “…was spitting glass and alcohol for five minutes.” Three Zeroes followed them for over fifteen miles and Card, despite his wounds, was busy keeping them off their tail while Fleming jinked and swerved at 0 altitude over the water to throw off their aim. With his “…instruments a mess and the compass gone,” Fleming told Card, “We may have to sniff our way home.”

After the attack, the squadron was scattered and made their way back to Midway in ones and twos. The returning crews found smoke drifting over the island from the bombing and strafing of the Japanese attack that took place while they were gone. Fortunately the runways were not damaged. As Fleming and Card’s SBD approached Midway airfield, a fire broke out on one side of the fuselage. Regardless, Fleming made a three-point landing, and in spite of a flat left tire, kept the plane straight on the runway. He turned off the strip, applied the brakes and helped the injured Card out of the plane. When other Marines rushed up to assist he exclaimed, “Boys, there is one ride I’m glad is over”, then shook hands with Card. Cpl. Eugene T. Card was sent to the hospital; for him the battle was over. He would recover and retire from the Marine Corps as a Major. Fleming found to his surprise, that he was bleeding from two minor wounds to his arm. The injuries were painless and he insisted on returning to duty. Dick later counted 179 holes in their plane.

Of the 16 SBDs and 11 SB2Us that had taken off that morning, 8 SBDs and 3 SB2Us were lost in the attack and only 6 SBDs and 6 SB2Us remained in operational condition. With the loss of Maj. Henderson, Maj. Norris assumed command of the squadron. About the time that the remnants of VMSB-241 were landing on Midway, U.S. Navy aircraft from all three American carriers were engaging in uncoordinated attacks on the Japanese carriers. At 9:40am TBD “Devastator” torpedo planes began a series of attacks. Of the 41 TBDs involved, 35 were shot down, mostly by Zero fighters. However, their sacrifice had brought the Zeroes providing cover for the Japanese fleet down to low level. When Navy SBD dive-bombers arrived high over the Japanese fleet at 10:28, they were able to make their attacks unmolested. Within six minutes, three Japanese carriers, the Akagi, Kaga, and Soryu were engulfed in flames. The fourth Japanese carrier, Hiryu, was able to launch two attacks that badly damaged the American carrier Yorktown, before it too was left burning furiously by another attack from Navy dive-bombers late in the day. The loss of their main strike force caused the Japanese to cancel the invasion of Midway and begin withdrawing their entire fleet from the area that night.

Nightfall did not bring an end to the battle. At 5:00pm, a PBY reported a “burning carrier” 200 miles from Midway. At 7:15pm, Maj. Norris, with Fleming flying on his left wing, led the 12 remaining aircraft of VMSB-241 into the gathering darkness. Due to casualties and available aircraft, crews were rearranged and the squadron was divided into two units, 6 SBDs under Capt. Marshall A. “Zack” Tyler and 6 SB2Us under Maj. Norris. Upon arriving at the given position, the group found no signs of the burning carrier. Both flights turned back towards Midway and soon began to encounter poor weather with rain squalls and clouds extending from 500 feet up to 6,500 feet. The two flights became separated in the darkness and overcast, but Capt. Tyler’s SBDs returned “without incident and without having sighted the objective.” Maj. Norris’ SB2Us also remained together until shortly before reaching Midway, when Norris’ plane suddenly went into a hard right spiral. The flight tried to stay with him, but the last pilot left him at 1,000 feet. Maj. Norris and his back-seater, PFC Arthur B. Whittington were never seen again. The other aircraft were separated in the dive down, including Fleming, but all made it safely back to Midway, the last plane landing at 1:45am. With the disappearance of Maj. Norris, Capt. Tyler became the third Commanding Officer of VMSB-241 in two days. During the night the Japanese submarine I-168 shelled the island, prompting an alert at 3:00am that resulted in Fleming and the rest of the squadron being awakened with less than four hours sleep.

The Battle of Midway: Attack on the Mikuma

The Japanese had assigned four cruisers and two destroyers to bombard Midway in the early hours of June 5. At around 2:00am they were within 80 miles of the island when they received the order to withdraw and rendezvous with the main fleet. They had only gone a short distance when the first ship in line spotted an American submarine on the surface, directly ahead of them and signaled an emergency turn to port. In completing this maneuver, the fourth ship in line, Mogami, collided with the third ship, Mikuma. The impact tore a large hole in Mikuma’s port side, rupturing her oil tanks which began leaking into the sea. Mogami suffered severe damage, losing 40 feet off her bow; the remaining portion back to her first turret was bent at nearly a right angle, reducing her speed to 12 knots. Leaving the two destroyers to escort the damaged heavy cruisers, the two remaining ships continued on to the rendezvous point. At 6:30am a PBY reported two “battleships”, both damaged, 125 miles from Midway. The Marines of VMSB-241 were ordered to attack, taking off at 7:00am. Capt. Tyler would lead six SBDs in a dive-bombing attack while Dick Fleming, with PFC George A. Toms as radioman-gunner, would glide-bomb with six SB2Us. Approximately 40 miles from their target, they sighted the oil slick from Mikuma and followed it to the ships. Capt. Tyler’s section began their attack at 8:05am with a dive-bomb run from 10,000 feet on Mogami, scoring several near-misses. In the face of heavy anti-aircraft fire, Fleming’s six “Vindicators” began a glide-bombing attack out of the sun from 4,000 feet, directed against Mikuma.

Dick Fleming led the attack and as he dove his plane was hit and began streaming smoke from the engine. Eyewitnesses stated that at this point Fleming could have broken off the attack and bailed out along with his gunner. Instead, Fleming’s plane remained steady throughout his dive as his plane became engulfed in flames. He dropped his bomb from 500 feet, getting a near miss on the stern of the ship. As he began to pull out of the dive, his “Vindicator” nosed down and crashed just in front of Mikuma’s after gun turret. The crash resulted in an explosion and fires that where sucked into the engine room through air intakes and suffocated the personnel stationed there, crippling the ship. The Captain of the Mogami witnessed the attack and said in a post-war interview, “I saw a dive bomber dive into the last turret and start fires. He was a very brave man.” The rest of the section dropped their bombs without result, and returned safely to Midway. This was the last Marine Corps action in the Battle of Midway.

The following day June 6, Navy dive-bombers from Hornet and Enterprise found the four ships. Their attacks badly damaged Mogami and both destroyers and left Mikuma a shambles. A reconnaissance flight sent out from Enterprise afterwards resulted in pictures of the devastated Mikuma that became one of the most famous photographs from World War II. Mikuma rolled over and sank that evening. Fleming and Toms were list as missing in action on June 6. At the time of his death Richard Fleming was 24 years old.

By the evening of June 6, when contact by aircraft between the opposing fleets was lost, the Battle of Midway was over. It had been a decisive victory for the Americans. They had lost the carrier Yorktown, one destroyer and about 150 planes. The Japanese on the other hand, lost 4 aircraft carriers, 2 heavy cruisers, 3 destroyers and 275 planes. This success effectively tipped the balance of power in the Pacific in favor of the United States. For his heroic efforts during the Battle of Midway, on November 24, 1942 Captain Richard E. Fleming would be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. President Roosevelt presented the medal to his mother and two brothers who had traveled to Washington, D.C. for the ceremony. He was the first Marine aviator in the Second World War and the fifth in Marine Corps history to be honored with the nation’s highest award. In a battle that saw an abundance of “extraordinary heroism”, Capt. Richard Fleming would be the only man to receive the Medal of Honor in this crucial battle.

After the Battle

The USS Fleming

The memory of Richard Fleming was further honored when the U.S. Navy named a new Evarts-class Destroyer Escort after him. The USS Fleming (DE-32) was commissioned September 18, 1943. After training in Hawaii, the Fleming performed various escort and patrolling duties in the Central Pacific. On the night of January 13-14, 1945, while escorting two oil tankers, Flemingdepth-charged and sank the Japanese submarine RO-37. While serving in the screening force for Escort Carriers off Okinawa, on May 20, 1945, she shot down two kamikaze aircraft attacking her. Five days later, Fleming rescued 31 survivors from two ships sunk by kamikazes. In overhaul on the West Coast at the end of the war, Fleming was decommissioned November 10, 1945, and sold for scrap January 29, 1948. The USS Fleming received four battle stars for her World War II service.

Fleming Field

During World War II the U.S. Navy used South St. Paul airport as a base for primary flight training. The airport was originally developed for the “Hook’em Cow Flying Club” in 1939. In 1940 it was purchased by Mr. A.C. McInnis for use as a Civilian Pilot Training facility. The Navy bought the land in December 1942, and for a time it was known as McInnis Airport. The Navy quickly set about developing the airport, erecting hangers and administrative buildings that are still in use today. In December, 1942, a contest was held to re-name the airport. The winning name was Fleming Field in honor of Capt. Richard E. Fleming. Mrs. Fleming took part in a dedication ceremony honoring her son held on January 3, 1944. The Navy ceased flight operations on July 31, 1944, and Fleming Field became a technical training center. Over 4,000 cadets had flown from the field, including future President of the United States George H. W. Bush. After the war the airport reverted to the city of South St. Paul. The South St. Paul Municipal Airport was officially named Fleming Field during a dedication ceremony on May 23, 1965. Peggy Crooks and Col. Ward Fleming represented the Fleming family.

Harry Ferrier

From Bill Vickrey:

I had the good fortune of knowing Harry quite well and am sorry to hear of his passing.

I have a problem which I am blaming on Windows 10.

Some years ago I was privileged to attend a meeting on USS YORKTOWN (CV-10) and took a lot of pictures which I cannot locate on my computer. Among those pictures were a couple of Bert Earnest and Harry Ferrier. Also – amongst those pictures – were some of Bill Esders, George Gay and Bert Earnest who – at that time – were the sole surviving torpedo pilots of the Battle of Midway. There were several Battle of Midway pilots in attendance...along with John Waldron’s daughter. I will send them along when – if – I find them.


Editors Note:  Bill did find some of the pictures and sent them along with some comments.

From Bill Vickery:

Here is a picture made at a Midway reunion made aboard YORKTOWN (CV-10). I imagine the attached is the last picture made of the three surviving VT pilots from the Battle of Midway. For the moment, I do not recall the date of this event.

In an earlier email I related the events of Roy Robinson (NAP) pulling George Gay out of the Pacific. Here is a picture of the two of them aboard YORKTOWN (CV-10). I knew Robby quite well...stayed at his home when I was in Phoenix and played golf with him several times. He stayed in the Navy and retired as a Commander. My older brother (retired ACMM) flew with Robbie (out of Pearl) while they were flying Constellations along the DEW line.

The Battle of Midway at 74

From Barrett Tillman:

Victory At Sea
The Battle of Midway at 74
By Geoffrey Norman

In the six months after its surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Navy sailed from one victory to another, across the Pacific and into the Indian Ocean, until it seemed as though it was not merely unbeaten, but unbeatable. The Japanese conquered everything they attempted to conquer--including the Philippines and Singapore--and they defeated every fleet they encountered. Perhaps the most heavily symbolic of those early victories was the Battle of the Java Sea, in which a force of cruisers and destroyers fighting as part of something known as American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) Command, was routed and its commander, Rear Admiral Karel Doorman, killed when his flagship, the Dutch cruiser De Ruyter, was hit by a Japanese torpedo that blew up one of the ship’s magazines.

That victory, and others, were so conclusive--even easy--that the Japanese Navy began to think of itself as invincible and became infected with what some of its officers would call, ruefully, “the victory disease.” But that was later. After Midway.

Despite its astounding run of victories, Japan had still not fully settled accounts with the Americans. Faced with the decision of “what next?” the Japanese high command designed an operation to force America’s aircraft carriers into a decisive battle and sink them. The U.S. Navy would be left without carriers, with its battleships mostly resting on the mud in Pearl Harbor, and with its submarines shooting torpedoes that routinely malfunctioned. In this state of helplessness, the Americans might be persuaded to negotiate. If not, Japan could defend its empire from behind a barrier of island fortresses that ran from the Aleutians to New Guinea, with its invincible navy sailing out to meet and engage any threat.

One more decisive battle might do it. This, anyway, was the thinking of many in the Japanese high command. They did not believe the Americans had the will to fight the kind of war it would take to reclaim the Pacific. One conspicuous exception was Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who had spent time in America--even studied at Harvard--and believed he knew the American character. He was opposed to war, believing that Japan would be overwhelmed by American industry.

He had that right. Even before the opening of hostilities, America was building new vessels. Carriers, especially, which Pearl Harbor had conclusively established as the new capital ship for the world’s navies.

But in June 1942, America’s new Essex-class carriers were still in the yards, in construction, or undergoing sea trials, and the U.S. Navy was limping by on what it had left after Pearl Harbor.

Which wasn’t much. The nucleus consisted of three carriers--Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown. The Japanese believed they had sunk the Yorktown in the Battle of the Coral Sea in May. And they nearly had. But the ship made it back to Pearl Harbor, badly damaged and trailing oil. First estimates were that repairs would take three months and that they would need to be made in one of the West Coast yards, not in Hawaii.

After the wounded ship had arrived in Pearl and the water had been pumped out of the dry dock, Admiral Chester Nimitz, who commanded the Navy in the Pacific, pulled on a pair of hip boots and sloshed around beneath her hull with the repair crew inspecting the damage.

“We must have this ship back in three days,” he said.

“Wilco,” someone must have said. Or, in modern parlance, “Can do, Admiral.”

With the urgency of a NASCAR pit crew changing all four tires and gassing up its car in a matter of seconds, the yard crew went to work, pulling so much power for their floodlights and welding torches that parts of Honolulu lost electricity. The repairs were made, in large part, without the benefit of blueprints and schematics. Things were done by eyeball, and the American art of jury-rigging and improvisation may never have been more historically decisive. The ship was ready to make steam and to launch and recover aircraft in just over 48 hours. It was one of many turning points in a battle not yet fought and in which Yorktown would play a critical role.

And, sadly, be sunk.

Nimitz had set his deadline for the return of the Yorktown on the basis of something between intuition and scientific certainty. His code-breakers had been intercepting and analyzing Japanese radio traffic that they believed indicated the objective of the enemy’s next major offensive was Midway. The code-breakers were not able to read every word of every message, as the Bletchley Park team did with the German radio traffic that had been coded by the famous Enigma machines. The people working for Nimitz were able only to tease out bits and pieces from which they made very informed estimates.

In one celebrated episode, they used a ruse to trick the Japanese into identifying the target of a large operation that went by the code letters “AF” and turned out, indeed, to be Midway, a cluster of forlorn little islands 1,300 miles west of Hawaii; close enough to be strategic.

As expert and clever as they were, the code-breakers’ work was treated with skepticism by some of their superiors. And some of Nimitz’s superiors, as well, including his boss, Admiral Ernest King, the highest ranking officer in the Navy, and Henry Stimson, the secretary of war, who believed the approaching great sea battle would be fought just off the coast of California.

This may seem preposterous to generations of Americans who have assumed that their country always has the military upper hand and decisively so.

But in June 1942, it was absolutely not the case. As Stimson wrote in his diary, “It is a serious situation for [the Japanese] greatly outclass us in the strength of carrier vessels. .  .  . [N]evertheless, if the Navy uses good judgment and doesn’t run the risk of getting out from under the air umbrella, we may entice them into a position where we may get a chance to do something--some hit and run blows which may even up the situation navally and make it a little more possible.”

Nimitz had other--and considerably more aggressive--ideas. Trusting his code-breakers had correctly teased out Japanese intentions and plans, Nimitz doubled down and decided to send his three carriers to meet the attack on Midway. The Japanese carrier fleet normally included six carriers. For the Midway operation, it would consist of four. The two left behind had been in the Coral Sea fight and had lost flight crews. One had been damaged and required repairs. But the Japanese command did not see the urgency that Nimitz had impressed on the yard personnel repairing Yorktown.

So it would be four carriers to three. Yorktown, like the two missing Japanese carriers, had suffered serious losses among its air group’s pilots. But, again, instead of taking the time to bring in replacements and reorganize, Nimitz simply cannibalized from squadrons that had been orphaned after the loss of other carriers. The Yorktown was a jury-rigged man-of-war, with a patched-together air group. Still, it was in the fight.

But the odds favored the Japanese, in numbers, experience, and weaponry.

The Japanese Zero was one of the finest fighter planes in the world, and the F4F Wildcat was not in its class. The U.S. dive-bomber, the SBD Dauntless, was dependable. But the torpedo plane, the TBD Devastator, was obsolete even before the war. It was slow in the attack and pitifully vulnerable to fighters. Against the Zero it had no chance.

But as events were to prove, the aviators flying the TBDs were as aggressive as the admiral who commanded them. The pilots made up for what their planes lacked in speed with what still seems incredible boldness. And they were as resourceful--especially one of their leaders--as the people at Pearl who had patched up the Yorktown.

The battle eventually turned on just these qualities: aggressiveness and the ability to improvise. It was a battle of many “what ifs,” and when viewed that way, the American victory can be seen as lucky. What if the Japanese float plane from the cruiser Tone had launched on time and searched its sector according to plan? Perhaps it would have alerted the Japanese admiral to the presence of the American fleet in time for him to strike first.


And what if the American submarine Nautilus had not played an aggressive cat-and-mouse game with a Japanese destroyer that, as a result, was racing to catch up with the rest of the fleet and leaving a wake that pointed, like an arrow, to the position of the Japanese carriers?

And what if Wade McClusky, leading American dive bombers off the Enterprise, had not seen that destroyer’s wake and followed it to the Japanese fleet, which he attacked?

And what if McClusky had not arrived at precisely that moment, when the Zeros were all at low altitude, having nearly wiped out three squadrons of American carrier-based torpedo planes and leaving the sky above undefended against dive bombers?

And what if the commander of one of those American squadrons--Torpedo 8, off the USS Hornet--had not been an aggressive junior officer willing to disobey a direct order and risk court-martial in order to fly a course he knew would take him to the Japanese fleet while the rest of his ship’s air group spent the day over empty ocean with none of its planes engaging the enemy and many of them splashing into the Pacific, out of gas?

The story of the last flight of Torpedo 8, the bravery of the attack and the death of all but one pilot and every radio gunner--15 planes down, 29 of 30 men dead--has been told many times. But in Craig L. Symonds’s The Battle of Midway,the most recent and, by far, most satisfying account of the battle yet, readers learn just how badly handled the Hornet’s air group was that day and how insubordinate John Waldron, Torpedo 8’s commander, had been when he broke off formation to fly his own course, which he believed (correctly it turned out) would take him to the Japanese fleet.

When his commander ordered him not to break formation and go out on his own, Waldron replied, “Well, the hell with you. I know where they are, and I’m going to them.”

Had he lived, Waldron would have been court-martialed. He was, instead, awarded the Navy Cross, posthumously.

His squadron flew directly to the Japanese fleet and attacked without scoring a hit. But the raid of the torpedo planes brought the Zeros down low, leaving the sky above open to McClusky and the dive-bombers. In five minutes, three of the Japanese carriers were in flames, so badly damaged that they eventually sank. The fourth, now heavily outnumbered by the Americans, was attacked and sunk later that afternoon.

The Japanese lost the initiative in the Pacific in five minutes. And, of course, eventually lost the war. Which, from this distance, seems inevitable.

Not so, however, early on June 4, 1942, when the loss of Midway seemed likely, the loss of Hawaii seemed probable, and attacks on the West Coast of the United States or the Panama Canal seemed all too possible.

One can read the accounts and conclude that the fortunes of war (read: luck) went the Americans’ way. Or one can read more closely and see that while the Americans may have gotten some breaks, they made the most of them. What John Keegan has called “the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare” was, above all, a victory of spirit.

Geoffrey Norman, a writer in Vermont, is a frequent contributor to The Weekly

Marine Aviators at the Battle of Midway

From Barrett Tillman:

Marine Aviators at the Battle of Midway
By Mike Johnson
Early June, 1942

The Japanese Empire was at the height of its expansion. One last, insignificant possession of the United States remained to be cleared from the western Pacific Ocean. A mighty Japanese fleet was steaming to do battle and capture Midway. If things went truly well, the Japanese would lure the American fleet into a decisive naval engagement. There was little doubt, at least in Tokyo, that the numerically superior, better-equipped, and much more experienced Japanese fleet would be triumphant.

The Japanese fleet included four of the aircraft carriers that had performed so ably at Pearl Harbor: the Akagi, the Hiryu, the Kaga, and the Soryu. These were accompanied by two huge battleships: the Haruna and the Kirishima. They proceeded as an integrated battle group, their speed constrained by the top speed of the battleships*. The time advantage conceded to the Americans would prove costly.

The Japanese had planned on all six carriers from the Pearl Harbor raid, but Shokaku had been badly damaged at the Battle of the Coral Sea in early May. Zuikaku, while not damaged herself, had lost most of her planes and pilots and been forced to return to Japan for refitting. The United States lost the carrier USS Lexington. The Japanese were forced to turn back from their planned invasion of Port Moresby, so the Battle of the Coral Sea was a strategic victory for the Americans. Material loses on both sides, while certainly not trivial, were not decisive.

The Japanese were seeking a decisive victory at Midway.

So were the Americans.

The U.S. forces were deployed in two Task Forces. TF16, under Rear Admiral Spruance, had two carriers, the USS Hornet and the USS Enterprise. TF17, under Rear Admiral Fletcher, had the carrier USS Yorktown.

The fleets were on converging courses to history.

Midway Defenses

The defenses at Midway were meager, cobbled together quickly at the outbreak of hostilities -- the perfect metaphor for the American lack of preparedness prior to WWII.

The defenses included:

• Ground Assets - Sixth Marine Defense Battalion (reinforced).
• Naval Assets - Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 1 (MTBRon 1) with eight PT Boats.
• Air Assets - Army Air Force - Seventh Army Air Force Detachment with four B-26 Martin Marauders and 19 B-17 Flying Fortresses.
• Air Assets - Marine - Marine Fighting Squadron 221 (VMF-221 with 20 F2A-3 Brewster Buffalos and seven F4F-3 Grumman Wildcats) and Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 241 (VMSB-241 with 11 SB2U-3 Vought Vindicators and 16 SBD-2 Douglas Dauntlesses).

The Marine aviators would carry the brunt of the early fighting. VMF-221 would attack the incoming Japanese aircraft, estimated at 108 planes, 36 level bombers, 36 dive bombers, and 36 fighters. VMSB-241 would attack the Japanese surface fleet.

Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 241 VMSB-241 was equipped with dive bombers,

11 SB2U-3 Vought Vindicators, and 16 SBD-2 Douglas Dauntlesses. The SBD-2s and ten of the squadron's pilots arrived on Midway on 26 May 1942. Many of the pilots were untrained in dive-bombing, some had never flown their new aircraft, and gasoline was in short supply. Pilot training was a key concern going into the action.

The Vought SB2U-3 Vindicator
The Douglas SBD-2 Dauntless

Maj. Lofton R. Henderson, the commanding officer of the VMSB-241 attack, divided his planes into two groups. He led the first group, comprising 16 SBD-2s. The second group, comprising 11 SB2U-3s, was led by Maj. Benjamin Norris. The planes would attack by glide-bombing because of the lack of training in dive-bombing. They took off at approximately 0630 hours on 4 June 1942. The SBD-2s attacked a Kaga-class carrier. The after-action report indicates that the carrier was hit three times and badly damaged.

Later damage assessment would show that the attack had resulted in near misses but no direct hits. The SB2U-3s attacked the battleship Haruna. As in the case of the carrier, there were near misses but no direct hits.

All of the personnel of VMSB-241 performed in the best tradition of the Marines. They flew against overwhelming odds and aggressively attacked.

Half of the aviators were killed, including Maj. Henderson* and Maj. Norris.

Total casualties were approximately 70%.

Those of you who have read of the battles and sacrifices on Guadalcanal know of the central role played by the airfield Henderson Field, named after Maj. Lofton R. Henderson.

Marine Fighting Squadron 221

VMF-221 consisted of 20 F2A-3 Brewster Buffalos and seven F4F-3 Grumman Wildcats. The Brewster Buffalo was no match for the Japanese Zero and was being phased out in favor of the Grumman Wildcat. At the time of the battle, most of the squadron's planes were Buffalos. The squadron's pilots were experienced in peacetime, but they had no combat experience.

The Brewster F2A Buffalo
The Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat

Maj. Floyd B. Parks divided VMF-221 into two flights. He led the first flight, comprising 12 Buffalos, directly to the incoming Japanese. One of the 12 developed mechanical problems and had to return to base. Only one of the remaining 11 Buffalos survived. Maj. Parks and eight other pilots died.

Capt. Kirk Armistead led the second flight, comprising eight Buffalos and seven Wildcats. The second flight lost an additional four pilots and planes.

The after-action report filed by Capt. Armistead shows that VMF-221 inflicted serious losses on the enemy. Capt. Armistead included the following tribute:

The F2A-3 is sadly out-classed in all respects by the Japanese 00 Fighters.

Although all pilots of this squadron were aware of this fact, they drove their attack home with daring and skill.

The Japanese air attack did not achieve its goals because of VMF-221 and the ground defenses, and a second attack had to be mounted. In the confusion, with fuel and ammunition on the flight decks, the Japanese carriers were extremely vulnerable to air attack. Enter the American carrier planes.

The Naval Battle

In any short treatment of a consequential and complex event, much detail must be omitted. This essay concentrates on the Marine aviators from the ground bases at Midway. The Navy aviators from the three American carriers were faced with similar difficulties to what the Marines endured. They were vastly outnumbered, with less experience and lesser performance aircraft.

They, like the Marines, attacked without question and with great courage.

It was the Navy aviators who got through and destroyed all four Japanese carriers.

The following is from remarks given by former Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger at a Battle of Midway commemorative dinner on 5 June 2003

Through an extraordinary combination of the skill and courage of our pilots, splendid intelligence, prudent risk-taking by our commanders that paid off, and sheer good luck, the apparently inferior American forces were victorious. This victory occurred despite the inferiority of our aircraft, the ineffectiveness of our torpedoes, the substantial absence of backup surface ships, and our overall numerical inferiority. You know the rest!

Four Japanese carriers had been sunk. It all confirmed the dictum of Otto von Bismarck: "the Lord God has special providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America." The Japanese offensive had now been blunted. The Japanese fleet turned back toward the Home Islands and the opportunity for victory had been lost forever.

The cost was high. Each of the three American carriers lost about 50% of its aircraft. Hornet lost 32 planes and 37 aviators. Enterprise lost 32 planes and 51 aviators. Yorktown lost 31 planes and 23 aviators. Yorktown was badly damaged by enemy aircraft and later sunk by a submarine, with a significant loss of life.

In Memoriam

The Old Burying Yard at Kittery Point is idyllically situated on the rugged coast of Maine. It is a small cemetery, maybe two hundred graves, on a granite outcropping overlooking the entrance to the Piscataqua River, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and Portsmouth Harbor. Many of the monuments are set off with American flags, signifying veterans, such as the gravestone shown below:

The simple stone is the marker for the Alvord family: Henry, Margaret, and their son John. The ever-encroaching lichen partially covers the inscription "IN LOVING MEMORY."

John Robert Alvord was a United States Marine, a captain, an aviator, and a warrior. He flew Brewster Buffalo MF3 of VMF-221 and fought and died at the Battle of Midway.

Captain Alvord posthumously received the Navy Cross "for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession." The Navy Cross is the second-highest medal of valor, the highest being the Congressional Medal of Honor. Twenty-two other pilots of Captain Alvord's squadron also received the Navy Cross, mostly posthumously.

Each year between Memorial Day and 4 June, I take the short drive up the coast to Kittery Point and visit the Alvord memorial. It is a time of reflection, patriotism, and pride in honor of those brave men and women who have served and continue to serve. Thank you.

Mike Johnson is a concerned citizen, a small-government conservative, and a live-free-or-die resident of New Hampshire.

John Waldron Memorial Dedication

Editors Note:  On June 3rd a Memorial honoring South Dakota Battle of Midway hero John C. Waldron was placed in the Concourse of the Pierre/Ft. Pierre Regional Airport, his home town.  John Mollison drew his aircraft and did a lot of work getting this Memorial right.  Unfortunately I could not attend the ceremony but a lot of information on the project and some images from the day courtesy of John Mollison.

My name is John Mollison

and I interview old guys and draw their airplanes.

74 years ago, an "old man" and proud (part) Oglala-Lakota led his squadron on one of most tragic, fascinating and poignant missions in history, kicking off the game-changing "Battle of Midway."

Since today is the battle's anniversary, this email deals with that and the man who played such a ginormous role, John C. Waldron.  I hope you find something especially interesting here...

Only a great history writer could put Waldron's story on one-page; thank you Barrett Tillman!

It's a terrific read on this anniversary of The Battle of Midway.
Download/view here.
The cities of Pierre and Fort Pierre, SD JUST put up this Memorial to Waldron's service at the Pierre airport and guess what else showed up!?!  
Click here for video
THANK YOU Texas Flying Legends, Paul Ehlen, Tim McPherson and Fargo Air Museum and pilots Casey Odegaard, Paul Ehlen, Mark Yaggie and Warren Peitsch.  Special thanks to Mustang Aviation for the camera plane.
3. FINISHED:  "Dakota Warrior."
A reprise of the original post I made last November.  Click here.
Pay no attention to the dork in the black shirt.  This is a good story.
Click here.
SDPB gave me a chance to give the Legend its due...
Click here.
The John Ford film that served as an obituary for the 29 men of the Hornet's detachment of Torpedo 8...
Click here.
It takes about 90 seconds and flies just like the real TBD.  (gasp)
Major thanks to the Pierre, SD airport...
Click here.
And if you want one, click here (limited number available)
A very limited edition print series of Waldron's Torpedo 8 TBD is available by clicking here. 
9. NEXT?  "Another MiG..."
Plus an F-86D, F8 Crusader, AC-130H, F-111 and "Prize Crew"...and if I have anything to say about it, a bunch of nukes (won't THAT be weird!). 
Know an Old Guy who needs his Airplane and story immortalized? All it takes is time, energy, money and the kind of life worth remembering.  Click here.
John Mollison's website is:

Old Guys and Their Airplanes can be watched at
Copyright © 2106 John Mollison, TRC, inc., All rights reserved.
This "History Placard" will accompany the 20x30 inch print of John Waldron’s TBD bomber. The placard will be mounted alongside the artwork in a separate frame. It’s purpose is to give context and describe the significance of the man without going into too much detail.

Video of FM2 from TBM.

WWII Battle of Midway Hero Finds New Life on 74th Anniversary

Some pictures of the aircraft flyover for the Memorial.