Roundtable Forum
Our 23rd Year
February 2020

In this issue.

Roundtable Opening Remarks
Captain Howard P. Ady. Jr., USN
Dick Best After Action Report
How Ready were the Japanese Carriers
Mitscher and the Mystery of Midway
Midway, The DVD
VF-3 Escort Mission
IJN Carrier Battle Inexperience at Midway
Annoucements and Questions
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

Welcome to the February Battle of Midway RoundTable.  We have a number of different submissions and articles as well as Ron Russell sends his review of the Midway movie.  To start off with Mr. Howard Ady III sends a biography and an image of the plaque for his father.  Very nice of him to share with us. Thank you very much.  We also have some information and writings about Dick Best from a friend.  He is sharing that with us.

A couple of members have indicated they have trouble reading the newsletter because the text  runs off the right side of the margin and bleeds into the background image.  I know what causes this and am looking for a way to correct it or at least prevent the bleed.  The cause is a Windows setting.  To get to the setting right click anywhere on your screen without any programs open or on an area of the screen not covered by a program window.  Find the 'Personalize' link in the menu that appears and click on that.    Then find the word Display and click on that.  There are three settings, 100%, 125%, and 150%.  If your screen setting is set to more than 100% the text is enlarged to make it easier to read the screen.  If you find that the setting is set to 125 or 150 setting it back to 100 and then apply the change.  The text should not bleed into the background any longer.  Course the text is smaller so might be a little harder to read for some so this is not my final solution but I have to write some code to detect screen resolution and adjust the newsletter to accomodate.  Am looking for my code where I did that a long time ago for another project.

We have several answers and some more comments from last month's newsletter and a number of questions and announcements.


Captain Howard P. Ady. Jr., USN

From Howard Ady III,
March 9, 2020

Here is a new biography for my father we wanted to share with you and the Roundtable. It was prepared to accompany his plaque at Mt. Soledad Memorial Association.

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Captain Howard Parmele ADY, Jr., USN,

Age 80, of Sun City West, AZ., took a final flight on April 23, 1998, from his home in Sun City West to The Kingdom of Heaven. “And he slipped the earthly bonds, put out his hand, and touched the face of God.“- (High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.)

He was born July 25, 1917, in Colorado Springs to Howard Parmelee Ady, Sr. & Marie McCombs Ady. Howard & his younger brother, Joseph Wesley Ady, would walk 4 miles to school in Goldfield and often ride on one of the many mules abandoned by miners. Joe was also a career Naval Officer, retiring as a Commander, USN. Howard went to high school in Malakoff, Texas and at age 15, attended North Texas Agricultural College at Arlington, Texas in Electrical Engineering at age 17. He received a Congressional Appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1935, graduating in 1939, with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. After sea duty, he received his Naval Aviator Wings of Gold, at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, FL.

Then Lt. (j.g.) Ady married Beverly Susan McMullen of Long Beach, CA on June 1, 1941, and they had three sons, Howard P. Ady, III, in 1944, John William Ady in 1945 and Robert Joseph Ady in 1946.

He was a career Navy Officer during his 28 years in the Navy, and spent 13 of those years either in foreign or sea duty within various commands of the Navy. He was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in 1939.

Captain Ady was a highly decorated officer having received the Legion of Merit with Combat V, Distinguished Flying Cross, with gold star in lieu of Second Award, Seven Air Medals, Commendation Ribbons, DVC (Korea), the American Defense Fleet Clasp, Asiatic Pacific Stars (7), the American Command at Sea Insignia and campaign ribbons for Navy occupation, China service and the Korean theatre.

Shortly after sunrise on June 4, 1942, a PBY-5 search Plane, flown by then, Lt. Howard P. Ady, Jr., USN, reported the sighting of a Japanese carrier force--the "Kido Butai,"-- 200 miles northwest of Midway. This warning alerted the forces in and around Midway that the long-expected Japanese attack was about to begin. Most historians and experts believed that the engagement that ensued was the pivotal battle of WW II. It was called The Battle of Midway.

Captain Ady also served as:

Commander Air Group ONE HUNDRED ONE, on the USS Kearsarge (CC-33) in 1952;

Commanding Officer, VFAW-3, NAS North Island, Coronado, CA, 1957;

Executive Officer, U.S.S, Hornet (CVA-12), NAS North Island, 1958; and

Staff, Western Sea Frontier, 12th Naval District, San Francisco, CA, 1960 until his retirement from active duty July 1, 1963.

His first marriage ended in divorce in 1960. Both his second wife, Elizabeth “Pat” Irish & and third wife, Mary Lou Loma’s predeceased him. Howard & Mary Lou gravesites are at Sunland Memorial Park & Mortuary, Sun City West, AZ.

Following retirement he worked for Montgomery Ward, in Mill Valley, CA, with later full retirement moves to Santa Cruz, CA and Glendale AZ.

He proudly represented the Greatest Generation throughout his distinguished military service career. We will never forget.

Download larger Image here

Dick Best After Action Report. Battle of Midway

From Ralph Ramirez
February 12, 2020

I had the good fortune to conduct a video oral history of Dick Best and we became friends. After his death I discovered that he had bequeathed me his entire library including his academy class books, his academy watch and Prints of his bombing raids at Midway. I include a copy of his After Action Report. I will send photos of the signed artist Prints of the Battle of Midway, signed by Battle of Midway survivors in another email.

I was emotionally moved since I have studied the battle of Midway for many years but little of great quality has been available without becoming a "reader" and getting access to "after action reports", but even those are often off the mark.

I did get access to most of the Japanese high command reports but those were coached in Japanese Navalese and difficult for me to interpret. Most of the good information I got from Navy and Marines and a few civilians who served there.

I interviewed a Marine flyer based on Midway who was one whose plane survived the initial Japanese air attacks. He tried to locate the Japanese carriers but ran out of fuel and had to return several times for refueling and never located the main concentration. He lost several flyers whose aircraft ran out of fuel, because of faulty aircraft or because they lost sight of the horizon and crashed into the sea.

Another was a submarine crew member who couldn't give me much information except that they fired 3 faulty torpedoes. He was on three other patrols before he was transferred to a training unit at Pearl. His original sub was lost at sea and never recovered.

I interviewed three Navy flyers with Dick Best among them. With the little research available, much of it classified, I was able to piece together the "four minutes that changed the tide" when Dick Best got a direct hit on the, as he called it, "the big red ball" on the Akagi. A slight deviation from the film as he said his initial dive was out of the clouds and the Japanese crews were occupied with the torpedo bombers and didn't see him in a straight dive until he was about 1500 feet above the carrier deck. He flew the length of the deck before he dropped his bomb as it was hung up on the release from the fuselage. He barely got away from the Akagi before the explosions and almost didn't make it away from the ship. His oxygen tank had malfunctioned and caustic materials entered his lungs but he returned to his ship and re-armed and refueled and returned. The second run was what was pictured in the film. He was bleeding profusely prior to his return the first time and he didn't leave his plane. The second time his gunner reported his injury and he was physically removed before he could take off again for a third run, which he never made.

I met Dick Best when we annually co-sponsored the Midway Battle dinner at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, along with the Navy Recruiting Command. Dick was one of our speakers and we became friends. I completed his video oral history later. His account was the most accurate and allowed me to piece together the dive bomber account of the battle.

After his death, Dick Best, left me his entire library (about 25 feet in length and an entire wall about 20 feet high) of his Spanish architecture home in Santa Monica), including his prints by a Presentation Copy by Robert Taylor and two numbered prints 2/6 by R.G. Smith. All are signed by Dick Best and two are signed by the artists: Jim Dietz, R.G. Smith, R.L. Rasmussen, who Dick consulted with regarding the layout of the art work as related to actual conditions at the battle sight. Also, the art work was signed by many of the flyers at Coral Sea and Midway: Scott McCuskey, Bill Esders, Bill Robin, Joe Riley, Ben Preston, Harry Fredrickson, Bob Elder. Each of the prints are signed and dated by the artist.

Dick Best also left me his Academy Ring, his Academy watch, a commemorate watch his Academy Annuals, signed first edition books on WWII and Naval history. Quite a collection. I only kept his books that related to his Naval career and his P.R. and corporate work at Rand and his correspondence with Naval history authors and publishers.

Dick and I became close friends but I didn't know of his death until I called his home to do some followup work on Naval history, when his son told me of his death and his bequest to me of his books and memorabilia.

Lt Colonel Ralph R Ramirez (CA) retired
former Deputy Commancer
California Center for Military History SoOps
former member, California Military Museum Board of Directors

Dick Best AfterAction Report Bombing Squadron Six

Editors Note:  Thank you very much for the notes and file. An interesting thing about his after action report. A while ago I was helping an author write a book on McClusky and supplied him with this after action report as well as a map that apparently accompanied the after action report. It was not attached to the Bombing Six after action report on any website I have found. I came across the map and the After Action Report when doing some research years ago but never found the map again. I do have a photo copy of it. At any rate we discussed who actually wrote the after action report for Bombing Six. Most thought it was the Ex. Officer but I was convinced it was Best because of the map. I think the fact that you got the report and the map or maps directly from Best confirms my insistence that he did in fact write the report and draw the map, not the Ex. Officer Lt. J.R. Penland, as others have speculated.

Thanks so much. This is really helpful, if even a bit late, as the book is published already. Wish I had known you had the documents a couple years ago. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to the prints.

How Ready were the Japanese Carriers

From Jon Parshall
February 12, 2020

Regarding “How Ready were the Japanese Carriers,” couple points:

First, no matter how you want to semantically slice Fuchida’s statements, it is clear that with respect to his account of the minutes immediately prior to the dive-bomber attack, he was engaged in ex-post-facto sophistry of the worst sort. I mean, he flat out says that all Akagi’s planes were going to be launched within five minutes, and that Akagi was actively engaged in beginning launching activities at the time she was attacked. Both of those are flat-out lies—a fable meant to cover First Air Fleet’s collective tushies from blame. Likewise, yes, there was a Zero taking off at the moment of the attack, but he disingenuously fails to acknowledge that it was a CAP Zero, not a strike escort fighter. The guy was a liar.

Second, the more Tony Tully has studied the matter of what was going on in the hangar decks in the years following Shattered Sword’s publication, the more confused the matter becomes. He has continued digging into the Japanese sources on what was going on down there, and has found some additional accounts we didn’t have access to back then. If we were to re-write the book now, we would probably back away from definitively stating that Akagi’s torpedo planes were ready to go at 1020. Because we don’t know that they were, and it seems plausible that they *weren’t*. The whole thing is really murky.

Jon Parshall

From Chuck Wohlrab
February 12, 2020

Re. Mr. Longton’s comments. From what was said in a number of more recent books (including Shattered Sword, Midway Inquest and possibly others) the Japanese were not within 45 minutes of being able to launch their planned counterstrike. It was plain that between the changing of hardware, the reloading of torpedoes and the violent maneuvering of Akagi and Kaga to escape VT-8 and VT-6’s attacks, those ships has, perhaps, just finished reloading the Kates and preparing them to be staged to the flight decks. On Soryu and Hiryu, below deck preparation was simpler, only the refueling and loading of machine gun ammunition. As he stated, the loading of bombs was accomplished on the flight decks. The staging to flight decks, loading of ordnance there and warming up of the engines would have taken at least 45 additional minutes. The picture that Mitsuo Fuchida paints is a starkly different one, with the first Zero of the strike actually rolling down the flight deck to launch at the time the Enterprise dive bombers were sighted overhead.

The real issue there is Mitsuo Fuchida himself. In Shattered Sword, Midway Inquest and Attack on Pearl Harbor (by Alan Zimm), he is painted as a rather unreliable witness. It appears that when he discussed Pearl Harbor with the US Strategic Bombing Survey personnel, he initially said nothing about the so-called third wave attack at Pearl Harbor, only to change his story later, placing himself on the bridge of Akagi protesting the need for one to admirals Nagumo and Kusaka. Based on the writings of others, including Kusaka and Genda, it never happened. He is also painted as self-aggrandizing, placing himself onboard USS Missouri at the surrender ceremony, for example. In any event, Fuchida is questionable as a witness, and should be taken with a grain of salt.

Mitscher and the Mystery of Midway

From Ed Beakley,
February 12, 2020

Glad you added link on the Hornet strike stuff. Hadn't read in awhile and don't think I ever read the comments particularly as related to Peter Smith. Just as lead to question, I'm a believer in the 265 story. We know for sure only six things really: 1) IJN had 4 CVs together; 2) Waldron got there, 3) Ring didn't; 4) Mitscher wrote the only Hornet report, which only raises questions, 5) Nobody got court-martialed out of a major victory, 6)We won.

But the reason (s) for that heading bring into issue the "number of carriers in a task force -US vs. IJN," - an issue brought up multiple times in discussion and debriefs during the course of the '42 battles

· Reason for 265?
· Defense of the Yorktown could have been better
· Offense and defense pluses and minuses all through the Guadalcanal Campaign
· Within this debate, multiple experienced and senior officers take both sides
· yet the US always defaults to separate CV with its own screen

With the end of 42 comes the Essex class, fighter director concepts, training, etc upgrades, and much better fighters. But did the debate just end? USN never really was able to put together a coordinated strike, while IJN victory at Santa Cruz can at least be partially a function of a coordinated effort.

As I work to finish my series, I have found nothing but the raising of the issue with nothing on the solution as it effected ops for the war's remainder.

Any thoughts?


From Barrett Tillman
February 12, 2020

Ed's note is well taken--who/when were single-CV TFs morphed into multi-deck TGs. As noted, obviously the change was spurred by the increasing CV production in 43, but I don't know to what extent grouping the flight decks (twos, threes, fours?) was dictated by an emerging doctrine and/or a function of how many escorts were available.

I sorta recall Overy (?) (Why the Allies Won?) citing USN estimates on personnel requirements for X thousand hulls plus shore establishment. All the while feuding with Big Army for dibs on draftees. That must'v e been a turbo-supercharged crystal ball.

Sidebar: Wish I could remember who said that GC Marshall was cranky with expansion of the AAF because every heavy bomber crew had half a dozen potential squad leaders, four platoon leaders and maybe a company commander. Then Marshall really blew a gasket when 6th MarDiv stood up...


From Mark Horan
February 13, 2020

The work for our 1943-45 multi-carrier task forces came from "Operation Diplomat", the joint operations by the then only operational USN carrier in the Pacific, USS Saratoga ... (and a Light Carrier IIRC, but my sources are packed up ATM), and the British carrier HMS Victorious. The Americans carriers were at sea when Victorious arrived in the Pacific with her new American planes (Martlets, TBFs) equipped for her landing system, and the British were interested in the USN Pacific Fleet Fighter direction practice compared to theirs. They found two distinct schools, dubbed the Hornet School and the Enterprise School. The former could directly control the leader of a division of 4-planes; the later could only direct the leader of a two-plane section. Conversely, their method could direct all pilots individually. They realized that in the joint operations to follow there would need to be compromises by both sides. They put forth a plan of action wherein they would give up almost anything but their method of Fighter Control.

They started with presentations to both schools and having then come to there CiC center ... and work with their people ... this center featured the famous two-sided glass screen, and stations for controllers. They quickly sold the Americans at the schools on the positives of their system ... and by the time the USN carriers returned, the confrontation of Fighter Control techniques was really a forgone conclusion. In fact, for most of the operation Saratoga operated as a "strike" carrier handling BOTH services strike planes, and Victorious handled the fighters CAP defense for both carriers teaching Americans integrated in her center.

The British accepted many changes in their ship and methods of operating ... and acquired many other useful tidbits ... In the event, for joint operations to succeed, the ship offloaded her arrestor system and her entire airgroup, acquiring stockpiled USN aircraft and a USN system was installed (hers being placed in storage for her return to UK waters later).

In the event, many other things were learned ... the most beneficial to their personal being the existence of Ice Creme at sea (the USN built her her own ice creme center), and the efficiency of USN mail services which were commented on in great detail in the report to the Admiralty and would generate changes in the RN later in the war. Two other things that were commented on in detail was the the USN ability to bypass red tape and get changes done seemingly at a whim, and the fact that the USN personal were far less rigid and capable of thinking "outside of the box when it came to making changes desired by individual ships and the way they operated them.

While the USN had sent their carriers to sea prior to the British arriving, the lessons learned by joint operations were all implemented on the newly arriving USN carriers prior to the next phase of operations - the greatly enhanced FDO center radically changing the effectiveness of USN CAP defense for the rest of the war!

I could send you copies of the report - it is fascinating reading!


Editors Note:  The report sounds interesting.  Yes I would like to read the report if it's not too much trouble.

As for fighter direction control in 1942 the US had one useful advantage, that being radar, but it came with a steep learning curve.  My father was a radar operator in the pacific on a destroyer.  When I was growing up he taught me how to plot a contact.  Then he would drill me on how fast I could calculate the true bearing, distance, and altitude.  It was not as simple as looking at the radar screen and seeing the pip and calling out the contact to your superior.  I won't bore you with the details but there were a lot of moving pieces and reqired some plotting tools and basic math skills.

So the fighter director really had a bit of work to do.  Starting at Coral Sea and to a certain degree the Island Raids earlier in 1942  and all the way to the Battle of Santa Cruz the directors tried any number of things to try to get their fighters in an intercept position.  And they weren't always very successful.

One of the things I learned  in Dad's "radar school" is the altitude was a bit of a guessing game.  The contact appeared on the screen and you could calculate the bearing fairly quickly.  However the speed and distance required some additional data as time passed.  And the really tricky part was the altitude.  The contact appeared on the screen and you continued to plot the bearing and could figure the distance eventually.  But at some point the contact disappeared off the screen.  Then you counted the seconds till it reappeared.  The time between the contact being 'lost' and the time it 'reappeared' gave you the altitude.  Yes I know that sounds odd but that's the way it was done.  But in order to get the correct altitude you needed to know the speed of the aircraft and that was calculated by replotting the contact with each sweep of the antenna from the old point to the new point.  But that was also dependent on at least knowing a little bit about the aircraft you were plotting, and the US in 1942 did not have a good grasp on just how fast some of the Japanese aircraft were.

So to say that fighter directors had to learn on the job is exactly how it worked.

Midway, The DVD

From Ron Russell
February 23, 2020

I managed to miss the new Midway movie during its brief local run in November, so I had to wait for the release of the DVD on February 18th. It's widely available in the stores and online in 3 versions: DVD, DVD + Blu-ray, and DVD/Blu-ray/digital, in escalating prices.

The disk starts out with 5 unrelated previews that you can either watch or skip ahead to the main menu, which has the movie plus a couple of special features. The first is entitled "The Men of Midway," which I hoped might be something about actual BOM vets, but no--the "men of 'Midway'" refers to the actors in the film. Even so, it was interesting to see and hear the actors' impressions on their part in the story and the personalities that they portrayed. They were all enthusiastic about their roles and worked hard to honor the historical characters that they represented. If anything they did on camera was out of step with what we might know about the real men of the BOM, that's due to the script, not the actor.

The second special feature is "Getting it Right - the Making of Midway." This segment refers to the hardware the producers had to come up with, not the details of the battle, and with that qualification, they did really well. They went to some extremes to make the shipboard and aircraft scenes look authentic, and the mock-ups they built looked for all the world like the real deal. They even constructed nearly the entire flight deck and bridge of the Enterprise on a giant studio stage. Their replica TBD is so authentic that it's now on display among the other real aircraft aboard USS Midway in San Diego.

Then, there's the movie. First, let's dispose of the inevitable visual errors like aircraft markings that film producers never get totally right. There were a lot of those, particularly the roundels on U.S. aircraft in pre-BOM scenes that lacked the red circle in the white star. Those things stand out to the likes of us but hardly anywhere else, so I just let it go.

Still, it was painful to see how they could get one detail right that's often very wrong in movies--the SBD gunner faces forward during a dive, calling out altitudes for the pilot. Well done! Then, they turn around and totally foul up the B-26 attack, one of the best known and most dramatic aspects of the battle--how much better would it have been to show what really happened! In the CGI era, there's no excuse for such egregious deviations from history, especially when the history is far more gripping that what the producers invent. Hard to figure.

The script suffers from too much time spent on dramatic but completely irrelevant sub-plots, like Best's friend on the Arizona, the Doolittle raiders in China, and the Marshall/Gilbert raids in February '42. All of that wasted run time should've been devoted to key BOM elements that didn't make it off the cutting room floor, like the Yorktown and the Hornet!

As for the personalities, Mark Horan's review in the December newsletter was especially harsh on the movie's version of Dick Best, and he's right. Remember all that ridiculous soap opera fiction that got stuck in Midway-1976 for the sake of selling theater tickets? Here it is again. Sad.

Other characterizations were better. Joe Rochefort was improved over Hal Holbrook's 1976 version, although that wasn't hard. Other key figures were fairly portrayed, notably including Nimitz, Layton, McClusky, Halsey, and most especially SBD gunner Bruno Gaido, one of the true stars. Gaido's remarkable story was among the very best parts of the film, especially since the scriptwriter actually got it right.

Some of the other portrayals were less memorable. Oddly, Admiral Spruance was just a minor element in the script, and we saw nothing of his testy relationship with Miles Browning. At least they didn't fictionalize the character of Admiral Fletcher--he doesn't show up at all! I thought that was about like making a movie called "Gettysburg" with General Longstreet in charge of the Confederates and Robert E. Lee totally missing.

With regard to the many complaints about CGI quality, the movie's visuals should be judged alongside what we've been watching as purported BOM scenes for the past 76 years, starting with "A Wing and a Prayer" in 1944. If this is the only BOM production you've ever seen and you're a fan of computer games, okay, maybe the CGI wasn't five star in your mind. On the other hand, if you've suffered through an endless parade of outrageously wrong renditions of Midway's imagery in movies and documentaries for the past several decades, then what we see in this new effort is, at long last, breathtakingly real. The general public may or may not find it impressive, but the BOM historian will view it through a different lens.

So, if you saw the movie in the theater, should you also invest in the disk? Yes. In addition to a couple of good special features, you have the advantage of pause and rewind that you don't get in a theater seat; really helpful in following some of the details that go by too fast.

The bottom line on the production itself: not perfect, but that will never happen. Compared to everything we've seen to this point, Midway 2019 is the BOM movie we've been waiting for.

--Ron Russell

Editors Note:  Your comments about several aspects of the movie getting it right is well noted. I fought long and hard to have the SBD gunners sit facing forward and why it would be stupid to have the guns deployed in a dive as it could injure or kill the gunner. They are heavy. I can't remember the vets story I sent them about that but it convinced them to actually do it correctly. I do have to give a big kudos to the prop woman who actually asked a lot of really good questions about the SBD's and how they were used and details of which some made it into the movie and some were omitted. For instance she had me track down a detailed description of the back seat position, where every item was placed, what they were, and how they were used, including such things as where the radio transmitter was located and why. Don't think we ever saw the full back seat but I'll have to watch the movie to see if I missed it in the theater.

Sadly many other 'suggestions' went unheeded. But for the most part I was happy with the way it came out. But the story really wasn't about Midway. That just happens to be the ending. I really had to adjust my thinking when helping them and let the fact that we were not getting a story of Midway but rather three aviators journey through the first 6 months of the war that just happens to end at Midway.

From Ron Russell
February 23, 2020

Noted. I knew you'd fixed the RG-facing-aft problem and thought about giving you credit for it (and other stuff), but the writeup was already too long--you should've seen it before I cut out about a third!

There was a lot more I wanted to say, maybe in a future newsletter. I thought Woody Harrelson did surprisingly well as Nimitz; didn't expect that at all. And Patrick Wilson as Layton was simply superb. On the other hand, Dennis Quaid as Halsey? Well, he had the mannerisms right, but if he looks like Halsey (as claimed in the "Men of Midway" feature), then so do I. After seeing James Cagney's Halsey in The Gallant Hours, it's hard to imagine anyone else having that look, and Dennis Quaid doesn't.

I assume you noticed they got the VT-6 and VT-8 raids in the wrong order.

I'm still astounded at the B-26 gaff. Holy smokes, what were they thinking? Was someone being paid for the number of planes he drew in the scene?

In working with the Midway folks re SBD technicalities, by any chance did you have "Walk Around-SBD Dauntless" as a primary reference? You mentioned details of the cockpits, and that book has them fully, along with everything else. Of course it's a bit late now for the movie, but it's still a great addition to the library if you don't have it. Click here for the Roundtable review (scroll down):

Okay enough for now.

Editors Note:  Yes I did have them buy a copy of the SBD walkaround and use that as a reference for the SBD production of the scale model as well as getting some of the equipment right and in the right places.

Another interesting detail that never made the movie was George Gay's story.  They wanted his ordeal to be a fairly substancial part of the script.  So I helped them track down what he would have had with him right down to the exact types of flares in his survival kit.  And I know they found and had all the equipment he would have had in the raft.  Sadly you never see any of it.  I don't know why after going to all that trouble it was left out.  But movie editing can be cruel.  And maybe part of that is they opted for the more popular view of 'What George Gay Saw' rather than what he did see.

VF-3 F4F-4s, Midway Escort Mission

From Stefano Pagiola
February 27, 2020

The forum recently had an interesting exchange regarding VF-3 F4Fs at Midway, starting off by wondering which pilots flew which F4F during VF-3’s June 4 escort mission.

Here is the most interesting part, by forum member R Leonard, who says his father was VF-3/VF-42 XO:

Awesome! But why does Thach’s logbook say 5171 for both flights? Last minute change?

Because just like everyone else from VF-3 & VF-42 (and, I suppose survivors of VB-3, VB-5 & VT-3) the post Midway log books were built from memory, that is re-constituted. All the original log books went down with the ship, including Thach's.

In reconstituting his, my father, with an assist from other VF-42 survivors was able to reach back to the beginning of May 1942, recording missions/flights in which others participated and a general idea of the time for each. His total hours up to 30 April 1942, 635.3, was already a matter of record from a squadron report submitted on 1 May . . . there was a copy ashore at MCAS Ewa where the rump squadron HQ was located. Anyway, he starts what is clearly labeled a Logbook #2 , on 4 May 1942, but since neither he nor anyone else was sure of BNs there is no entry in that column. The May page includes combat flights during the Battle of the Coral Sea. Last two entries for May, one sans a BN were a F4F-4 familiarization flight (0.8 hours) on 29 June and a 2.2 hour flight in BN 5244 (and here I'll really confuse you), F-26 from NAS Kaneohe to USS Yorktown at sea. June 1942 only shows but seven flights. Three were on the 4th, a total of 6.2 hours all in BN 5244 (F-13); one on the 5th of 3.2 hours also in BN 5244; one on the 6th, 2.3 hours, evidently in a different plane as the BN is not recorded; another 3.2 hour flight on the 9th with no BN recorded; and, lastly in BN 5244 a 2.9 hour flight from Hornet to Ewa. Point being, they recorded what they knew. I'd suggest that Thach had no idea of F-23's BN so sitting there at NAS Kaneohe after returning, he simply used the BN of his surviving mount.

My father was the VF-3/VF-42 XO. In that capacity he declared Thach's mount from the morning strike escort, BN 5093 (F-23) to be too shot up for further flight until totally repaired. Fortunately, aboard, ready to go, fully gassed, unscathed, and up until then unused, was Thach's nominally assigned BN 5171 (F-1); this was the plane Thach flew in the CAP scramble against the B5N attack. If you look a photos Yorktown stopped after the torpedo hit you can clearly see F-23 parked, wings folded near the island. Oh, and all this F-this and F-that, VF-3 used only numeric identifiers, no "F". And to eliminate confusion BN 5244 was originally F-26, but after Don Lovelace was killed in BN 5146, the original F-13, my father, the senior of the VF-42 contingent and next senior in the squadron became XO. Unbeknownst to him, the VF maintenance folks, VF-42 to a man, hearing of the change, struck his plane BN 5244 and his wingman, Johnnie Adams', plane below and painted on new side numbers, 13 and 14. So BN 5244 went from 26 to 13 and BN 4245 went from 27 to 14. That is how they appeared the next morning. There was, indeed, a pecking order of where in the numbering one might appear. Side numbers for XOs were generally as close to the middle of the numbering as possible . . . makes sense when you think about it.

My father did not see Thach again until one day in early October 1944 Thach shows up at ComFAirWest and tells John Crommelin he's stealing his director of VF training, my father, to be his assistant Ops Officer in TF-38, VAdm McCain's staff. Just when Dad was beginning to enjoy flying the Aleutian Zero on a regular basis.

For the full discussion, see Forum Board

IJN Carrier Battle Inexperience at Midway

From Scott Kozel
March 4, 2020

Interestingly, in all the books and articles about Midway, I have seen very few that underscore the fact that for all the experience the IJN had in carrier operations compared to the USN in early 1942, actually their carriers at Midway had -less- in carrier-to-carrier battles, actually -none-. At Pearl Harbor the USN ships were at anchor. In the Indian Ocean the IJN did not battle RN carriers. None of the Midway IJN carriers were at Coral Sea. Yorktown was at Coral Sea, most of its commanders were onboard at Midway.

Finding enemy carriers at sea, successfully attacking them, and successfully defending from attacks from that enemy, are very different from raids on land targets and harbor targets.

From Roundtable Forum, June 2017, comment by editor -- In fact the only carrier group that found the Japanese carriers relatively easy was Yorktown's group. For the most part you can forgive how the US operated in the battle. None of the carrier squadrons, except VS5 (which was really VB5 but renamed for the battle) had any experience in carrier battles. After all there was only one carrier that had been in a carrier battle, and that was Yorktown. Even the 4 Japanese carriers had never been in a carrier battle before and as it turns out it showed. Compare Japanese performance between Midway to the Battle of Santa Cruz. Big difference.

Editors Note:  Since writing that a few years ago I have been studying the Indian Ocean operations of the Kido Butai less Kaga of course.  There are some remarkable similarities to the way they operated at Midway.  The British did have two fleet carriers and planned a fairly similar ambush although with a considerable disadvantage in combat aircraft.  It never came to anything as the Japanese fleet did not show up on the day the intelligence indicated and the British were on their way back to port when the Japanese raided Ceylon.  One instance I found was a fairly similar scare for the Japanese carriers when some British aircraft was spotted nearing the fleet when the Japanese were rearming.  I'll have to go back through my notes to find it again but it came to nothing as the British aircraft apparently did not spot the Japanese fleet.  It appears no real changes were made to their operations by the time of Midway.

Announcements and Questions
Midway Historical Tours set back to 2021

Editors Note:  I received an update on the Tour scheduled for Sept 14-20, 2020 and it appears that it will be pushed back to 2021 due to an infestation of mice.

Midway Historical Tour

A few comments on the latest newsletter

From Chuck Wohlrab
February 12, 2020

Re. Medals of Honor at Midway. I have always wondered why there were no medals forthcoming for the Navy. As we know, there was only one, awarded to CPT Richard Fleming, USMC for his attack on Mikuma on 5 June. I am aware that George Walsh has lobbied Congress to get one awarded to CDR Wade McClusky for leading the attack on the Japanese carriers, but has been thwarted by a prohibition on the awarding of new medals after a date specified by the DoD. Alas, George’s efforts have been in vain.

Your comments about Marine Medals of Honor is interesting. There have been five awarded to Marines, all but one at Guadalcanal, and all to Marine fighter pilots. They were CPT Henry “Hank” Elrod, CPT Joe Foss, MAJ John Smith, CPT James Swett and CPT Jefferson DeBlanc. All flew F4F Wildcats when awarded their medals, though in Elrod’s case his was for a number of events, including shooting down bombers over Wake Island, sinking the destroyer Kisaragi and his valiant efforts defending a beach emplacement in the final assault on Wake.

Thanks for all your efforts with the monthly newsletter! It’s greatly appreciated!
Chuck Wohlrab

Carol Hipperson's book, Radioman

From John Lundstorm
February 12, 2020

With regard to David Luck's question, the USN muster rolls show that Robert B. Brazier was on board Saratoga Jan-Mar 1941 when Raymond Daves served in Yorktown. However, it is likely that they did meet in September 1941. Daves was a passenger riding in Saratoga 10-18 Sept 1941, which took him from San Diego (when he graduated from radio school) to USS Litchfield at Pearl Harbor. Brazier was a radioman in Sara at the same time. Brazier was transferred from ship's company to VT-3 on 18 Dec 41.

I've found no new evidence to change my opinion, offered in the December 2018 Roundtable, that Raymond Daves was not on board Yorktown at Coral Sea and Midway and was not a survivor rescued by Hughes after the battle.

Best wishes,

Medal of Honor for VT-8

From Den Reilly
February 12, 2020

I have a copy of "THE MAGNIFICENT MITSCHER." Page 136 states that Mitscher nominated the entire squadron (VT-8) for the MOH in his Action Report to Nimitz. I'm guessing that this isn't very helpful to you, but decided to send it anyway.

Best Regards,
Den Reilly

Editors Note:  Thank you.  Anything is helpful.  The after action report seems to be the only time he sent a recommendation for medals.  I have found no other reference.

My father 6th Defense Batl Midway

From Michael Stettner
February 19, 2020

My father was served with the 6th Def Batl and participated in the Battle of Midway.

He was a .50 cal machine gunner and responsible for shooting down 1 and perhaps 2 Japanese aircraft attempting to shoot down American damaged planes on landing approach at Midway.

He never spoke very little about his WWII experience and when he did his memory wasn’t as clear. I’m trying to gather as much information as possible. If you have any information on the 6th Defense Batl I would appreciate a return email.

His name his Harold Edward Stettner

Thank you.
Michael Stettner

Midway movies

From Barrett Tillman
February 24, 2020

2011 Japanese film and an excerpt from the current BOM film (evidently the Kwaj attack complete with mountains and BB.)

A scene from the 2011 film Isoroku Yamamoto

BOMers will of course note the standard fare of full deckloads of IJN a/c as the SBDs roll in. But IMO the CGI is not bad for 9 years ago...

(Sidebar: if I didn't rant about it before, I'll do so now. Absolutely every Americanfightingman flies with his chin strap undone. Anybody who's flown in an open cockpit for 3 minutes knows better sheesh.)

Editors Note: I had come across the clip earlier this month and watched it.  Pretty good.  CGI I think is better in some aspects than the current movie.

Tom Evans

From Mike Rogers
February 29, 2020

It is with sadness that I pass along the news that Tom Evans, my father-in-law, and youngest brother of Ens. Bill Evans from Torpedo Squadron 8, passed away on February 15, 2020 at his home in Traverse City Michigan.

I know that Tom had many interactions with the members of the Midway Round Table and his study and work on Midway and especially the heroic men of VT-8 was an endeavor close to his heart and brought him much satisfaction and joy.

Mike Rogers

Midway battle star

From Barrett Tillman
March 10, 2020

Anybody have a line on what The Official Policy was? I sorta recall (but cannot find) a notice that every uniformed person in the Territory of Hawaii on 4-7 June 42 was eligible for a BOM star. Recently found a couplae websites detailing the hewge, vast, cosmic, contradictions and stupidities in various commands' applications of The Regs for Silver Star, DFC and AM. Long ago there was a b-i-g usaf site covering the entire non-MoH gong flail including/especially DSCs but it's a dead link.

Barrett sends