Roundtable Forum
Our 20th Year
April 2017

In this issue.

Roundtable Opening Remarks
Mitscher and The Flight to Nowhere
Effect of Midway on Mitscher's career.
Bombing and Torpedo Performance by US forces
PBY Reconnaissance During the Battle
Marine NAP's at Midway
Dusty Kleiss Memoir
CV5 Flags
Need some help with an A6M...
Announcements and Questions
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

We have a lot to get to this month.  First off Ron Russell submitted a very good article on Mitscher and the Flight to Nowhere and how it affected his career.  He quoted an article written by John Lundstrom back in 2009 detailing his performance at Midway.  And speaking of John Lundstrom, he added further thoughts on how Mitscher's performance at Midway was veiwed after the battle.  We have some follow up comments to last months articles concerning the PBY's at Midway.  There are notes on the Bombing and Torpedo Performance by US forces, and Marine NAP's at Midway and what ever happened to the Battle Flags from the Yorktown.

One of my favorite topics is books.  And this month I'd like to point out that the Dusty Kleiss Memoir Never Call Me a Hero has been published.  I encourage everyone to pick up a copy.  I just received mine a couple days ago and although I have not read more than a few pages it looks great. I look forward to reading the rest.

And last I'd like to take the time to point out that one of our members goes above and beyond the call each and every month.  That person is Mr. Bill Vickrey.  He has a wealth of information and is willing to take the time to share it with us.  I am most grateful to him and can say without question he makes this newsletter far better than I could do by myself.

Thank you Mr. Bill Vickrey.  You are appreciated more than you know.

Mitscher and The Flight to Nowhere: captain's discretion, or a deliberate defiance of orders?

From Ron Russell:
April 10, 2017

I notice that we're continuing to see discussion on the Roundtable concerning Mitscher and The Flight to Nowhere, and that's understandable. It was probably the most bizarre set of circumstances in the battle and possibly the entire Pacific War.

A huge question, never answered with finality, is why did Mitscher think he had license to send his air group on a wild goose chase, instead of accompanying the EAG toward the carriers spotted by Ady? The usual explanation revolves around the primitive carrier doctrine (or lack thereof) that existed in early 1942--a CV captain supposedly had far more discretion in using his air group than would be the case later in the war.

But does that really excuse Mitscher for simply making an unlucky call, or was his decision actually a blatant defiance of orders that arguably could have merited a court marshal? I recently found the following treatise on that score by John Lundstrum, written for the Roundtable in 2009. John offers an opinion that Mitscher may have been very lucky to get away from Midway with little more than a frown from Nimitz.

- - - - -

15 September 2009

From: John Lundstrom

author, The First Team, Black Shoe Carrier Admiral, et al

Much of the planning and orders involving the carriers at Midway has to be inferred from the actual events. Only for Eastern Solomons did Fletcher submit a detailed report outlining the thinking behind his command decisions. A key point at Midway is the belief on the part of Nimitz and the top U.S. commanders that the four Japanese carriers would operate in two groups; the first very likely proceeding in advance to attack Midway and the other some distance in the rear supporting the lead group. That arrangement reflected the current U.S. carrier policy which favored dispersion. Not only did the CINCPAC op-plan state this, but the orders given the PBYs searching from Midway did as well. They were to cover their entire search sectors of 700 miles until all four Japanese carriers were spotted. That is why Howard Ady, who on the morning of 4 June first reported finding two Japanese carriers, did not hang around to shadow them, but continued searching to the northwest.

Fletcher and Buckmaster were exactly correct in elucidating the reserve role of the Yorktown. Nimitz's plan was to use surprise and hit the lead group of Japanese carriers as soon as possible and knock them out. That would ideally mean the three U.S. carriers then having to deal only with the two remaining Japanese carriers. Nimitz directed that, unlike in the Battle of the Coral Sea, the two U.S. CV task forces would not be united into one disposition as Fletcher wished. Instead he formed them into an attack element (TF-16) and a reserve element (TF-17), with Fletcher, in overall tactical command, enjoying the flexibility to search as well.

This is shown in how the carriers were configured. Enterprise and Hornet spotted their planes to launch a full strike of all VSB and VT plus escort. In fact, they could not do anything else. They were, as Browning noted, kept "cocked and primed." Spruance had very little discretion. He was to attack with his full force at Fletcher's order once enemy carriers were located within range. Fletcher role was to engage the second group of enemy carriers once Midway's search spotted them, or if that did not occur, to reinforce Spruance's attack. The Yorktown was not spotted with planes crowding the deck. He rotated part of his SBDs through the hangar to have more room on deck. That is why he could fly the dawn search to see if the second Japanese group might be trying to flank Midway from the north. The Yorktown also flew the dawn CAP. The Enterprise and Hornet didn't do so, because if the enemy was not spotted before that CAP had to land for fuel, that would have meant terrible contortions in respotting the deck to recover them.

Fletcher's order at 0607 exactly reflected the situation as Nimitz and the others had expected. Spruance would take on the lead group of Japanese carriers immediately, and Fletcher would see what transpired while he recovered his dawn search and turned back toward the west. In fact, in that interval there was no report locating the second Japanese CV group. Fletcher did the only thing he could. At 0648, after retrieving the dawn search, he again radioed Spruance (which Mitscher should have monitored): “Shall follow TF-16 to southwestward and launch attack when within range. Two carriers unaccounted for." In fact he did launch as soon as he could, at about the same range as Spruance did.

In this whole affair Mitscher was simply a unit of TF-16. He had no discretion whatsoever to do other than what Spruance told him. The target had been located, and he was to join the Enterprise in attacking it. As for a definite course to fly, that was obvious: toward the reported target! At Coral Sea Fletcher never told Fitch in the Lexington what course to fly, either.

Going after a target moving on a tangent across your front was not an easy task. As for Point Option (how the carriers would maneuver while the strike was gone), Spruance directed TF-16 to close the target at 25 knots. That was on 240 degrees. Mitscher would have had no difficulty understanding where the assigned target was and what he was supposed to do. He just didn't do it.

- - - - -

Effect of Midway on Mitscher's career.

From John Lundstrom:
April 7, 2017

Mitscher's performance at Midway undoubtedly harmed his career in the short run. Prior to Midway, he indeed had orders to take over Patrol Wing Two to ease the burden of Rear Adm.Patrick Bellinger, who led the Pacific Fleet's patrol wings. Messages and letters between King and Nimitz during and just after the battle illustrate Mitscher's changing fortunes.

Nimitz's plan as of 28 May was to give Rear Adm. Leigh Noyes the Hornet task force (TF-17) after the battle. Noyes was Halsey administrative assistant ashore at Pearl. On 5 June, Nimitz advised King that he wanted to make Mitscher permanent CTF-17 in the Hornet and give Noyes TF-18 with the Wasp. Nimitz asked for "Baldy" Pownall to take Mitscher's place with Patwing Two, but he was not available. On 15 June, Mitscher was given TF-17 in the reorganization of the carriers following Midway. However, Nimitz informed King that Mitscher was only to have TF-17 for one cruise before reverting to his original orders and taking over Patwing Two. On 21 June Nimitz proposed to King that Mitscher immediately take over Patwing Two. Jake Fitch would receive TF-17 temporarily, as Nimitz hoped to have Capt George Murray (CO of the Enterprise) promoted to run TF-17. In the meantime, Murray was to turn over the Enterprise to Capt Art Davis and join Nimitz's staff on temporary assignment. King agreed. On 25 June, he wrote Nimitz: "Recent orders to Murray intended to enable you to make such assignment of Mitscher as you may see fit." Thus Mitscher went to Patwing Two.

It is obvious that after Spruance returned to Pearl on 13 June, he changed Nimitz's mind regarding Mitscher's fitness for carrier command. For example, Spruance wrote in his endorsement of Mitscher's Hornet action report, "Where discrepancies exist between the Enterprise and Hornet reports, the Enterprise report should be taken as the more accurate." That is a telling criticism from the normally undemonstrative Spruance.

Anyone interested in the specific citations for the messages and letters noted above might consider checking "Black Shoe Carrier Admiral," pp. 302-306 and the endnotes on p. 576.

Best wishes,
John Lundstrom

Bombing and Torpedo Performance by US forces

From Chris Lyons:
April 8, 2017

I recently started reading about WWII in the Pacific. I have been horrified to learn of the dismal performance of aerial bombing, torpedo and other offensive capabilities in 1942. This is even worse when contrasted to Japan's offensive capabilities. Can you tell me where to find out about the US forces reaction to this problem? I assume there must have been an intense focus on new training, techniques, etc.

Thank you

Editors Comments:  While the skill of the Japanese pilots were outstanding at the outset of the war there is more to the story. American pilots were every bit as good but suffered from obsolete aircraft, i.e. TBD and to a degree the F4F, faulty armaments in the Mark 13 torpedo, and combat experience. One must remember that most Japanese pilots honed their skill in China. However the US dive bomber pilots were as good and because they were armed with a reliable bomb and good aircraft in the SBD made a good account for themselves as was demonstrated at Midway.

I'm not sure I could point you in one direction but off the top I'd say Lundstrum's The First Team has a good account of the US fighter pilots reaction and tactics developed to combat the Japanese Zero. I'll see if I can come up with any others for you. Thanks for reading the RoundTable. Hope you find some interesting articles and discussions.

PBY Reconnaissance During the Battle

From Bill Vickrey
April 7, 2017

Ensign Howard Dickerson was the fourth pilot in Thueson’s crew and was still living not too long ago. We stayed in touch for years but the last time I talked to him, he was stone deaf and we never tried again. This was about 18 months ago.

VP-44 (PBY-5A’s) and VP-23 (PBY-5’s) flew the most PBY missions of any squadron at Midway.

There were a lot of NAP’s Commissioned and Warranted in March (and later) 1942. We had more aircraft that we had officer pilots qualified as Patrol Plane Commanders....of course the Navy would let an enlisted man have command over an officer. Some were made Warrant Officers, a few were made Chief Warrant Officers, many were made Ensigns and a handful were made Lieutenant (jg)’s. An order came out of the Navy Department giving Commanding Officers the authority to commission and warrant NAP’s. This applied to all aviation commands and there were several aboard ENTERPRISE and some aboard YORKTOWN....don’t recall any aboard HORNET.

Maybe Barrett or Ron can add to this?

From Bill Vickrey
April 7, 2017

1. Please forward my email address to Gerry Child and ask him to contact me. His father and I established a great relationship and I spent two or three weekends with his father and mother in their home. I was privileged to know all four of the pilots in their crew of 4 June 1942. Ensign Ted Theuson (a former NAP who retired as a Captain) was the PPC. Gerry Child, Sr. retired for health reasons and claimed he was the oldest Ensign in the Navy. A great guy – and his Mom was an excellent cook. Ted Thueson died on a golf course...what a way to go!!!

2. As to Mr. Robert McAdoo’s comments about “one or two men killed” in a PBY—at Midway? Seaman 2/c Robert D. McAdoo (serial number 662 03 16) was not aboard VP-44 on 31 May, 1941 but was aboard on 30 June 1942 but the Change Report does not show the date he joined the squadron...he came aboard between 01 June and 30 June 1942. So far as I know there is no roster or muster roll of all the men who were in PBY’s Squadrons at Midway but I do have REPORTS OF CHANGES for 31 May and 30 June 1942 and will be glad to provide copies to Mr. McAdoo. They are not very good (clear) for scanning so I would need his mailing address. There were some enlisted men killed in one PBY of V-44 and, so far as I know, they were the only PBY crewmen who were killed at Midway. Those enlisted men who were killed were ACRM James W. Adams, AMM3/c, Clarence J. Norby, Jr., RM3/c, William H. O’Farrell, AOM3/c, Lyonal J. Orgeron (Orgeron was temporarily flying in a TBF and not with VP-44). The PPC of the PBY (which was lost at Midway) was Lieutenant (jg) Robert S. Whitman, USN (USNA 1939-who got his wings on 28 August 1941). The second pilot was Ensign Walter H. Mosley who was a much more experienced pilot (got his wings 21 June 1940) then had been shot down while flying with VP-22 around Australia (Admiral - later -Tom Moorer was his PPC at the time). The USS MOSLY (DE-321 was named after him). Ensign Jack Kemp was the “extra pilot” who was badly wounded and died after being rescued and returned to Midway. Ensign Lee C. McLeary was the Navigator who survived and wrote a book called SHOT DOWN AT MIDWAY. Lee and his wife became very good friends of ours along the way. I spoke at a VP-44 reunion at THE MARINE HOTEL in San Francisco and met a lot of men who were with the squadron at Midway.

This is about all I can help with today.

Marine NAP's at Midway

From Bill Vickrey:
April 13, 2017

I already had a clean copy of the report prepared by MAG22’s XO but spent several hours browsing through it again.

I have had a long interest in the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard NAP’s and was privileged to attend 2 or 3 of their reunions. The XO’s MAG report caused me to spend some time trying to learn as much as I could about the Marine NAP’s who were on Midway during the Battle. There were a lot of NAP’s and ex-NAP’s in the Patrol Squadrons at Midway.

I have the MUSTER ROLL OF OFFICERS AND ENLISTED MEN OF THE U. S. MARINE CORPS - for the Air Group and the two squadrons - for the period from 1 June to 30 June 1942. Technical Sergeants William E. Bateman (NAP who got his NAP wings in 1939) and Robert H. Fore (Wings 1942) and Thomas J. Shaw (NAP who got his NAP wings in 1942) were on that roster. One might wonder why Bateman – he was more experienced than most of the Ensigns – did not fly on 4 June. The footnotes to this roster are confusing so I do not know exactly when these three NAP’s joined VMSB-241.

All the rosters show Technical Sergeant Clyde Stamps as being a pilot in VMSB-241. Over the years I had some limited contact with Lieutenant Colonel Stamps who got his NAP wings in 1941 an had only 417 flight hours before 4 June 1942.

Marine Gunner Charles F. Finnie got his wings as an NAP in 1929 but – along the way – was discharged from the Corps on some basis other than “honorable.”- but then re-enlisted and – according to Captain Ed Nooney, USMC (Ret) – Finnie went back to school and got his wings back. He was Aviation Radar Officer in MAG-22 at the time of the Battle and was not on a flying status. I cannot tell whether or not he was an NAP at the time of the Battle of Midway.

I have one question. On handwritten page 444 – of Major McCaul’s report - he lists MG. William L. Staff among the pilots who were wounded in action. Staff was “Group Construction and Maintenance Officer; Group Fire Marshall and Group Transportation Officer.” I wonder why he would be listed among the pilots?

Major General Marion Carl spoke highly of Verne McCaul (later Lieutenant General) both as an officer and as a man. McCaul regarded himself as the worst pilot in the Marine Corps. Marion described several incidents where McCaul would come in from a flight, throw his parachute up against the wall and berate himself for his inadequacy as a pilot.


From Barrett Tillman
April 13, 2017

Marion said McCaul sometimes exclaimed "I always turn the wrong way in a dogfight!"

Any 2nd Lt in the squadron could beat him...

From Bill Vickrey:
April 13, 2017

Here is an update. The SARATOGA came to Midway on June 25, 1942 and brought – among others – the three NAP’s I mentioned – Bateman, Fore and Shaw so they were not on Midway at the time of the battle.


Dusty Kleiss Memoir: Never Call me a Hero

From Laura Lawfer Orr
April 10, 2017

I wanted to touch base with you because my husband and I helped Dusty Kleiss write his memoir before he passed away last April. After six years of work, including countless hours of interviews, edits to the manuscript, and lots of telephone discussions, that memoir is finally being published.  It's scheduled to come out on May 23. Our goal was to get it published before Dusty passed, but unfortunately that didn't happen. The good news is, it will be out in time for the 75th anniversary of the battle.

The book is called Never Call Me a Hero, and here's the link to it on Amazon:

Never Call me a Hero

Would it be possible to get the word out about this to your members and friends? We're trying to let as many people know about this book as possible, as I know Dusty has wanted to get his story out for a long time.

Thank you in advance for your help, and please let me know if there's anything we can help you with.

All the best,
Laura Orr
Deputy Director of Education
Hampton Roads Naval Museum
Norfolk, VA

CV5 Flags

From Melissa Buchanan:
April 10, 2017

I am writing to inquire about flags from CV5. Do you know what happened to any of the battle flags?


Melissa Buchanan, MA, CA
Curator of Collections
Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum

Editors Comments:  That is an interesting question. I do not. However there may be someone on the RoundTable that does know. My first thought is that they might be on the Yorktown CV 10 that is a museum now but that's a long shot. I also have some contacts with the CV 5 veterans group. They might know. I'll send a few emails and see what I can find out.

From Melissa Buchanan:
April 11, 2017

Thank you. I’m the curator for CV10 and we do purportedly have one flag, but it’s unclear when the flag was donated. I ask because we have someone who is interested in donating a CV5 flag, but the tale is secondhand as the veteran is deceased.

Melissa Buchanan, MA, CA
Curator of Collections
Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum

Editors Comments:  It is possible. From my research the flags for the most part went down with the ship. Almost every account I have read is that the battle flags were still flying when the ship rolled over and sank. However that is accounts written in history books so they might be embellished a bit. It is possible that some of the reserve battle flags might have been salvaged. The ship did have men onboard trying to save the ship for almost 3 days. What I will do is post your question on the RoundTable as well as send a note to the Yorktown reunion committee. I don't think they do much with email as I still get a flyer every few months but I'll look for an email address in the flyer.

Do you have the name of the veteran. It might help if someone knew him. Perhaps he was a flagman or something which would give more credibility that he might have had one.

Someone on the RoundTable might have more info. There are quite a few that were very actively seeking out veterans of the battle and interviewing them. Also maybe a couple CV5 veterans that are still with us might have info on the flags.

Also flags do sometimes get retired but saved for one reason or another so even though there may not be any left that were used when the ship was in the battle there may be a few out there that were used at another time in her history. It would be interesting to see the flag and if it's well worn could have been a retired flag.

Next time I'm in the area I intend to visit the ship and Museum. One of the few that I have not been on yet. I'll let you know what I find.

From Melissa Buchanan:
April 12, 2017

We have discovered the same thing regarding the flags going down with the ship. It is a long story. The veterans name was Robert Stegall and he was not assigned to Yorktown but was a part of the repair crew in Pearl Harbor and left with the ship when she sailed for Midway. We’ve spoken to a couple of the CV5 veterans who have been here and they don’t remember him, understandably so. Mr. Stegall is long deceased and so we’re working on information from his son David Murphey.

I can imagine someone running up and grabbing the flag while abandoning ship, but which one I don’t know.

Need some help with an A6M...

From John Mollison:
April 25, 2017

I need some help… I must draw a representative A6M2 that (as best as anyone can tell) took part in taking out VT-8. The detail I would like is: pilot name, carrier and aircraft tail number (tail code). Of course, this is all conjecture but I want to be as accurate as possible. So could you please inquire with the Roundtable folks and get their suggestions?

Attached is a .jpg of a Soryu-based A6M2-21. About 15% there…so much to do; about half of what you see is really only ‘place holder’ until I can do a neater/more accurate job. But…we’re making some progress! Feel free to start pointing out flaws, problems and general malaise… :) I have a feeling that I’m going to catch-flak from the history-nerds/modelers out-there regardless as I’ve learned the A6M series markings/history is among (if not) the most contested airplane in history.

Editors Comments:  I am sure there is a lot of opinion about the markings. I have a few books that might have some specific photos of the aircraft on the Soryu at least prior to Midway that might help. I'll have to look. I also bought quite a few books printed sometime after the war in Japan. Text is Japanese but I should still be able to read a good deal of it with a little effort. May be some photos of Soryu Zeros in there. I'll look this weekend. At least that way you'd have an actual photo to go off of even if it is before Midway sometime. I can't think that the squadron markings changed between Pearl Harbor and Midway.

Announcements and Questions

History of War Battle of Midway veteran enquiry

From Tom Garner:
April 13, 2017

The Battle of Midway Roundtable,

My name is Tom Garner and I am the Staff Writer for History of War magazine. We are an internationally published (including the USA) UK-based magazine that is part of Future Publishing PLC and is issued monthly.

For our next issue I am going to be writing a feature on the Battle of Midway and was wondering if there were any veterans from the battle with interesting/dramatic stories who are willing/able to be interviewed for the magazine about their experiences?

I’m very aware that the veterans are of an advanced age now but I have extensive experience of interviewing WWII and Korean War veterans and have included examples below of previous interviews including a recent one with a Battle of Britain ace pilot.

I'm aware that many veterans might not feel comfortable about talking about their experiences so be assured that I always treat any interviewee with sensitivity and respect.

If any of this sounds feasible/possible then feel to get in touch via email or I am contactable on the phone number below. Alternatively, if there are other avenues to explore to find a veteran I’d be happy to hear about those too.

We're also very happy to do an advert promoting the work of the Battle of Midway Roundtable within the article as a thank you if a veteran is available.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,
Tom Garner.
Staff Writer
History of War

Editors Comments:  If any veteran on the RoundTable would like to be interviewed contact me and I'll forward your information on to Mr. Garner.