Roundtable Forum
Our 20th Year
October 2016

In this issue.

Mitscher, Ring and Midway
Japanese Response to US Code Breaking
Interested in Midway info
Wallace Clark Short , Jr.
Gasper Buffa: Plane Captain of SBD-2

Announcements and Questions
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

The Battle of Midway occurred over 74 years ago.  Despite the lack of knowledge of the event by many Americans it affects them in ways they can never understand.  If the United States had lost the battle it is unlikely the outcome of the war would have been all that different.  The industrial might of the US would have eventually worn down the Japanese and forced their surrender.  But one thing that never ceases to amaze me is how it might have affected the world in general.  Consider a world in which late in 1945 the Japanese are still fighting, albeit a losing battle, and the US has dropped several Atomic Bombs with more on the way.  First there is no guarantee that by August of 1945 we would have been in a position to drop the first one on Japan proper so perhaps Saipan would have been a more logical target.  After all with 4 more Japanese carriers available to the IJN in late 1942 and 2 or 3 less US carriers there is no telling what kind of strategy the US might have had to employ and how much longer the eventual road back to Japan would have taken.  One thing is certain however is that the Manhattan Project would have continued as it did if not with more urgency.

The US has been crucified by revisionist thinkers for dropping two Atomic Bombs.  It is easy to see that more might have been necessary if Japan had not surrendered when they did and much of this can be attributed to the decisions made by the Americans there on that June 4th morning in 1942.

The Battle of Midway RoundTable celebrates the start of its 20 year with this issue.  Many points about the battle have been discussed on this forum both by those who were there and those who want to understand more.  Much has been learned over the years, some we might find out in classified documents yet to be opened, such as who leaked the info to Stanley Johnston after the battle, and some things we'll never know for sure.  But this is the nature of a battle.

My thanks to any and all who continue to support the importance of the Battle of Midway and special thanks to those who were there.  In twenty years we have lost many veterans of the battle but were fortunate enough to be in the same room so to speak for so many years.  We can't ever repay them but we can to continue to educate and inform current and future generations.  It's been a great 20 year journey.  I look forward to the next 20 years.

Mitscher, Ring and Midway

From Ben Duarte:

I've been reading the round table and have some thoughts on Admiral Mitscher and the flight to nowhere. I don't see where Mitscher (AM) was at any fault in ordering Ring to fly at 265*. Ring would not have disobeyed orders to fly at 240* which he would likely have been court martialed for. It's clear that the 265* order came from AM.

Having been in the military and witnessed how loose things are with CYA as the norm I have a clear perspective of what happened. My earliest readings on the battle had me wondering who this Ring was and what was he thinking? I didn't like him but now I realize he followed orders.

The scenario: The battle order stated the enemy would likely attack in two groups. The first sightings where of two enemy carrier groups. AM and AS (Spruance) knew this. Did AS order AM to fly his groups out at 240* and AM disobeyed? Unlikely in the extreme. Was no order given on flight heading and AM decided on 265* on his own? If so, it wouldn't have been an unreasonable tactical decision based on what he knew at the time, ie, not to send everything to the first group leaving the second enemy group to go after the American carriers. Makes it a good decision

AS would have decided this and advised (ordered) AM accordingly. This may have been decided as an option depending on sighting before The American carriers sailed from Pearl, ie, discussions with Nimitz. Military people don't arbitrarily disobey orders, although Waldron and everyone else in Rings group did.

How did this all play out based on what makes sense? Rings orders were to fly at 265* to find the suspected second enemy carrier group while the two other carrier groups were ordered to fly at 240* to the 'known' sighting. Sensible. AM would not have decided this on his own so it's very likely AS ordered this. ( I don't know where Fletcher would have been in all this) Let's look at how this plays out.

Ring flies out as ordered by AM who was likely ordered by AS. Waldron doesn't know what the tactical decisions were but he knows about the sightings. He heads to the southwest and his group follows and others break off, others turn back. All disobeyed orders. Ring gets back to his carrier and goes running to AM with 'they all disobeyed orders and I want them charged!'. AM notes it and continues on. After the battle it is learned that most of those who were to be charged are dead and are heros. At Pearl AM, AS, (Fletcher) and likely Nimitz discussed the ramifications of charging dead heros with mutiny. It was a great victory, don't mess it up with details at this point over a mutiny that improved the successes of the American flyers. Mitscher discarded the action reports of the flyers and everyone was told to drop it. Ring was closed mouth over the whole thing, again, following orders.

Editors Note:  Of all the things in the battle this was not only the most confusing but perhaps the most controversial in that Ring even flew on course 265. No definitive proof has ever been produced and likely never will. But we have some pretty good people that put all the pieces together and came up with the most logical conclusion. However even that is subject to some scrutiny. Ron Russell the former editor of the RoundTable put forth some effort in his book and there is an update to the book on the web page that is a little hard to find. Note to self. I need to make these links a little easier to find. 

* Original Email from Mr. Duarte had 140* and 165* as the courses but it is obvious that the courses that he meant was 240 and 265.  Not sure why he marked them with an * but perhaps had noted that they were incorrect.  I had meant to change them but forgot to check with him before posting the page today to get the reason.    Thank you Barrett Tillman for pointing out they were still incorrect when I posted the page today.

Update to Flight To Nowhere

Also he wrote more in the Naval Institute magazine Naval History in the February 2006 issue called


I can't find a link to the article but it also has some good info in it.  If you can find a copy of the magazine I recommend reading it.

Craig Symonds also wrote a piece in the Naval Institute Magazine that is quite interesting as well.

From Ben Duarte:

Thank you for the reply. In Craig Symonds article he seems to suggest that Mitscher was less than the good Admiral that he was. I disagree. Mitscher wrote a report that protected many dead heros from likely court-martial. It was a noble act that I honor him for and shows why he was a good Admiral, that is, to bend the rules when necessary to provide the right and just outcome. The military is full of these kinds of deviations because the written rules are stringent to the absurd requiring some bending at times to effect the right outcome. Others were aware of Mitschers report while it was written and likely had input to it.


Japanese Response to US Code Breaking

From Bill Rowe:

I mentioned the Japanese knowing we were reading their codes while giving a tour at the National Air and Space Museum. A man on the tour remarked he’d discussed that with a Japanese friend,, and the man said they dismissed it as American propaganda. The tour continued for another hour or so, and I didn’t follow up.

Here’s another item that might be part of a larger story. My father said he was assigned to a temporary unit flying the Brewster Buffalo, F2A, on one of the outer Hawaiian in the event the Japanese got past Midway. I think he was on the staff of the radar school in Pearl at the time. Apparently there was a contingency plan, which we might expect of Nimitz.

Interested in Midway info

From Brock Howe:

I happened to come across your website and lots of good information. Thanks for putting it together. I’ll continue to read up. I was recently appointed the Plane Captain for the Lone Star Flight Museum’s SBD and I’m trying to learn as much as I can about her and her role in the war and of course at Midway. I have a lot to learn but maybe sites like yours will help me get there. I was curious if there were any SBD aircrew (pilots or radiomen/gunners) from the Midway battle that are still alive? I know Dusty Kleiss just passed away recently in San Antonio.

Editors Note:  Glad you found the site. If you have any questions I can try and answer them or some of the members can if I can't.

As for Pilots/Radiomen there are very few left and they are not particularly active on the site any longer or very communicative in general.  I know of a couple that I talk to through their son or cousin or nephew. We do have one gentleman that was on the Enterprise as part of the VT6 plane handlers/ordinance men that is still actively participating in the discussions. And there is at least one that doesn't really want much to do with talking about the battle any longer due to some poor choices by a couple of producers/directors on projects where he was badly misquoted. I still talk with one of his nephews and he does ask for articles or other stuff we publish to give to him to read from time to time.

So they're still out there but not very active any longer unfortunately and I don't want to infringe on their privacy.

From Brock Howe:

Thanks for the update Thom. Since our SBD is one of four still flying in the world, I’m always interested in talking to veterans who flew or worked on the aircraft. Keep up the good work on the site and I might go there and order your book.

Editors Note:  Book is not mine but the former host of the Battle of Midway RoundTable, Ron Russell.  It is an excellent book with a lot of good information on the battle and 1st person accounts not found in other history books.  You'll find it facinating.  For those of you not familiar with the museum here is a link to the page on the Dauntless.  There are many other aircraft they have so take some time and check them out.

Wallace Clark Short , Jr.

From Barrett Tillman

Enjoyed correspondence and telecons with him while writing my first book, The Dauntless Dive Bomber of WW II (published FORTY YEARS AGO this month!) He returned one call after a delay, saying he'd been fishing in S America, so he was vital and active into his 70s.

c. 1978 I was driving thru California and arranged to visit him. I'm drawing a blank as to which city...Bay area. Wally had lost a leg to a severe infection and was in poor health but was willing to talk. It was a shock to see him so emaciated. I also met his son, a big blonde surfer dude, who IIRC died young. On the way out he asked if I'd known of his dad's condition--which I had not. He said "You hid it pretty well." I replied that I did not want to let on how Wally's appearance startled me. Asked Wally to sign my book, which he did but only "With best wishes," no signature. I didn't have the heart to point out the omission.

Here's the find-a-grave entry, died in his native New York Nov 79:

Wally was another of those who proved The Inverse Law of Academic vs Combat Performance. He was nearly last in his Navy Tech class but like Max Leslie, Jimmy Thach and John Waldron, performed superbly in combat. (Dick Best probably was the main exception of the BOM leaders.) During the interval between Coral Sea and Midway Wally further endeared himself to Scouting 5 by taking over at the O-club when the bartenders were too slow to accommodate the crowd. One of them fled in dismay, calling the marines/shore patrol/etc, who insisted that VS-5 vacate the joint. Ben Preston related the story.


Gasper Buffa: Plane Captain of SBD-2

From Charles P. Flick:

I just received this link to a copy of an article on USMC Corporal Gasper Buffa. He was plane captain of aircraft 2106 flown by Lt. Daniel Iverson of VMSB-241. Buffa passed away in January of 2016. I don't know if the Roundtable has anything on Mr. Buffa as my search of the site was unsatisfactory. Anyway, here is the link to the story which originally appeared in the Charlotte Sun of 6/2/02.

I enjoy the Roundtable and thank you for your efforts.

Charles P. Flick

Announcements and Questions


From Ronald Russell:

The USS Yorktown CV-5 Club will continue its long legacy of grand annual reunions in New Orleans, April 19-23, 2017. Headquarters will be the Crowne Plaza New Orleans Airport hotel. The highlight of the event will be a guided tour of the National World War II Museum.

The registration deadline is March 17th, but taking care of it long before then is strongly advised. Full details appear in the Fall 2016 issue of the club's newsletter, "The Yorktown Crier." Anyone interested in the reunion who doesn't have the newsletter can contact the club treasurer by email,, or by postal mail to Yorktown CV-5 Club, P. O. Box 2302, Ft. Collins CO 80522.

Midway Veterans Inquiry

From Roger Kumferman:

I'm a member of the Warbirds Living History Group, the WWII re-enactors that work with the Experimental Airplane Association (EAA) at their annual Airventure Fly-In held at Oshkosh, Wisconsin each year in July.

Part of the fly-in is something they call "Warbirds in Review" where a vet is paired with a surviving example of the type of plane he flew during the war. The vet is interviewed about his experiences next to the aircraft and in front of the crowd (we re-enactors appear beforehand as a sort of "warm-up act" wearing authentic uniforms and equipment).

Since 2017 marks the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway, it would be a great way to commemorate that by having one or more Midway aircrew appear at Oshkosh. I wonder if you might be able to assist us in contacting such a vet?

I realize the problems involved. The vets are well advanced in age, and travel arrangements would have to be worked out. But the first step would be to see if any such vets would even be interested in attending. Would you be able to ask the vets you are still in contact with through the Round Table? Or do you have any other way or suggestions for me to contact them? Any information or assistance you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks very much for your time.

- Roger Kumferman

Editors Note:  I'd be glad to pass on the invitation to our members and see who might be interested.  I can't promise any takers.  I know some of our veterans are planning on attending the 75 anniversary on Midway Island next year and since your event follows closely hard telling if they'd get back on a plane so soon.