Roundtable Forum
Our 24th Year
October 2020

In this issue.

Roundtable Opening Remarks
Hornet Air Group
Letter to the Roundtable
Major Ray Dan Pineo, USMC
Hiryu Val
Arming an SBD

The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

Welcome to the Battle of Midway RoundTable.

I am writing this on Veterans Day.  Well the evening anyway.  Its always nice to see all the email's I get from companies honoring our veterans.  I like to see what each company comes up with.  Some are pretty good.  Nice image of our flag with a few words.  Rare to see any promoting it as a sales opportunity but there are some.  Doesn't really matter.  At least they went to the trouble of thinking about the day.

This month the newsletter is a little sparse but its more by design.  And speaking of that.  The company that has hosted the pages for the past 7 years decided to end support at the first of the year.  So I'm going to have to move it.  Knew this was a good possibility earlier in the year but they didn't shut it off due to so many clients being unable to move thier sites.  Now it appears they are fine with it.  Don't think this will cause any issues but if you don't see the pages one day while the domain is changing don't worry.  It will be just temporary.

We have some interesting opinions on the Hornet Air Group.  Its a topic that continues to stir up conversation.  We also have one submission that found an online course, for lack of a better word, on the Battle of Midway of 22 videos totalling 8 1/2 hours.  I didn't watch them all.  Just watched a few minutes of a few.  But pretty well done.  May give them a spin when the weather socks me in for a day or so.  We also have a story about a Marine on Midway during the battle as well as his subsequent service.  Quite interesting.  Personal accounts always are to me at least.

And this issue markes the start of our 24th year.  It started with a simple meeting and evolved into a robust discussion over the years and even spawned a book, thanks to Ron Russell having the foresight to get the most important discussions and personal accounts down on paper.  Unfortunately most of our veterans are no longer with us.  But they left a lasting impression of the battle from their eyes for all of us.  To that I am forever grateful as well as the fact that they were willing to share the experience with all of us and future generations yet to come.

So to the start of our 24th year.  Enjoy.

Hornet Air Group

From John Richards
October 28, 2020

What was the US Navy’s reaction to the Hornet air group performance at the Battle of Midway?

It was covered up while everyone was celebrating the victory. The C/O of the Hornet, Marc Mitscher, had already been selected to become an admiral, and the Navy wanted to avoid embarrassing him.

None of the surviving squadron leaders or the air group commander from the Hornet filed the required after action reports - the only report submitted was written by Mitsher himself. Adm Spruance, the task force commander, noted in his report that the Hornet’s reports contained mistakes, and the details from the Enterprise’s reports should take precedence.

Despite this, in a move straight out of “Catch 22”. the air group commander on the Hornet, Stanhope Ring, received the Navy Cross for leading the “flight to no where”.

It can be argued quite easily that the combination of Ring’s actions and Mitscher’s fictional report contributed to to the death of 2 US pilots. All 10 of the fighters escorting Ring’s bombers ran out of fuel. After the battle an intensive search was started, looking for downed airmen based on their last reported position. After 2 days at sea one of the Hornet’s missing pilots was found - hundreds of miles from where the report based search had been missing. The search was switched to the area where the pilot had been found, and 8 of the 10 missing pilots were found - sunburned, dehydrated, and suffering from exposure. 2 pilots were never seen again.

Here’s a little trivia - every year the best college lacrosse goalie in the US receives the “Ensign C. Markland Kelly Jr. Award”, named after one of the Hornet’s lost fighter pilots.

If the US had lost at Midway, Marc Mitscher and Stanhope Ring might not have faced court martial, but they would have ended their careers in a desk job on shore.

From Barrett Tillman
October 28, 2020

Mitscher is/was way over-rated. Yes he cared for his people but He badly needed hand holding. Thank goodness for Arleigh Burke et al in TF 58.

The two pilots lost were both VF-8. Mitscher took ring and Mitchell with him from DC/BuAer and neither were qualified. Ring didn't know how to drop a bomb from an SBD, IIRC got the air group lost on a training mission, and Mitchell didn't know how to use YE-ZB. Ran ten F4Fs out of gas with 2 dead.

Ohyes...Mitscher took Ring with him to his next 2 commands, a PatWing and AirSols. Ring retired with 3 stars.

The first time I heard the musical question, "Why let rank lead when ability does so much better?" was from a VF-8 survivor.

Barrett sends

Editors Note:  I think one of the problems with Hornet's air group is that they did not have the benefit of any real experience.  Hornet was commissioned just over a month before the war started and did not have a lot of time training before becoming involved in the Doolittle raid.  Unlike Enterprise and Yorktown, Hornet did not have any combat missions and her air group was confined while carrying out the Doolitte mission so could not even fly.  Now I'm not forgiving what Ring and Mitscher did.  They made bad decisions.  A lot of it born out of arrogance.  But many pilots without enough training followed Ring because that was the way you did it.  Not their fault.

The one man, as we all know, not to follow Ring was Waldron.  He also was rather hard on his men, training them when other squadrons took the day off.  His squadron alone found and attacked the Japanese fleet.  Waldron and his men paid a very steep price for his actions or more accurately for the lack of action on Rings part.

Later when the battle was over and it was clear to Mitscher that Ring had messed up he covered it all up claiming that Hornet's air group flew the same course as Enterprise and like the Enterprise Bombing squadrons missed the Japanese fleet on the outward flght.  They then turned towards Midway rather than North like Enterprise so missed the Japanese fleet on the return flight as well.

One of the things that always convinced me that Hornet's air group took an outbound course much further North, other than the fact that Waldron turned south to find the Japanese fleet, is the return flight of the Fighters from VF-8.  Now way back when I was first researching Midway in Grade School not much was written.  Information was sparse at best.  I didn't know for instance which way Waldron turned.  No book had any details.  The position of the downed pilots of VF-8 when rescued was so far south of Enterprise and Hornet led me to believe that they would not have turned South if they were already heading South on the ourward course.  It just didn't add up.

Plus my brother and I played about a 100 games (okay maybe not that many but a lot) of Avalon Hill's Midway and one gets a real sense of how much empty ocean there is and returning to the carrier after an attack, or missing one, best make the return trip as direct as possible.

Letter to the Roundtable

From Patrick Hill
November 2, 2020

I have recently become aware of two high quality sources of information on the Battle of Midway I would like to share. I have no financial interest in either but as an avid student of the battle found them very beneficial.

The first is a course of 30 video lessons totaling 8.5 hours under the title of

These videos can be found on YouTube for free or you can purchase them online with some extra bells and whistles for a total price of $25. The narrative courses are richly informative and animated making them very easy to follow. I enjoy streaming them on TV.

The other source is the Pacific War Historical Society (PWHS) link at

The PWHS originated in Australia in 2003 and has a powerful appreciation for the efforts of the United States Navy on Australia’s behalf during the war, particularly in those dark months of 1942. Members include veterans of the Pacific War, historians, teachers, admirals, generals, history students, and anyone around the globe who simply has a deep interest in the Pacific War.

These resources have enlightened me about the little discussed Lae-Salamaua Raid on March 10, 1942 which would have direct consequences for the Battle of Midway 3 months later.

On March 8, 1942, some 3000 Japanese soldiers, using 16 ships, waded ashore on the northern side of New Guinea at the lightly defended coastal villages of of Lae and Salamaua as a preliminary to the planned attack on Port Moresby. Then enroute across the Coral Sea toward Rabaul was American TF 11 under Vice Adm. Wilson Brown on Lexington and Rear Adm. F. Jack Fletcher with Yorktown. Overhearing radio transmissions of events at Lae-Salamaua, Adm. Brown made a command decision to redirect his attack there and entered the Gulf of Papua on the south side of New Guinea. The Owen Stanley Mountain Range splits the island there and while it provided a shield from IJN observation, it’s 10,000 ft elevation presented a formidable obstacle to American pilots. Nonetheless, clearing the mountains caught the Japanese completely by surprise and the 104 American attacking planes performed brilliantly, sinking or damaging the majority of the Japanese ships present, and dealing the IJN a stunning defeat following their uninterrupted string of victories since Pearl Harbor. It provided them incomparable combat experience as well, that would benefit them immensely in their coming battles.

It also obtained the immediate attention of the IJN General Staff and Vice Admiral Inoue, commanding the operation against Port Moresby, who now had to postpone that attack to not only replace the half dozen lost and damaged troop transports, but obtain carrier support as well. But the real significance of this delay lies in the fact that the original April date of the Port Moseby operation would not have been discovered by American code breakers in time for Adm. Nimitz to react. Instead, with the start date pushed into May, he was because HYPO had the extra time to discover it. Yamamoto was now reluctantly compelled to loan CarDiv 5 in support, but only with the promise they be returned in time for the Midway effort. Unfortunately, he failed to get that promise from the USN, who would so rough up the Shokaku and Zuikaku in the Battle of the Coral Sea that neither would be present at Midway, which probably turned the tide there.

Editors Note:  I did watch parts of a few of these on YouTube and they are pretty good.  Didn't see anything new but didn't watch a lot.  I may get to them when I have more time.  But check them out.  Well done from what I saw.

Major Ray Dan Pineo, USMC

From Doug Pineo
November 8, 2020

My father was a marine aircraft mechanic on Eastern Island during the Battle of Midway. I have a collection of photographs he took there in the months before the battle took place, and small pieces of a Japanese aircraft he kept, as well as a small wooden box he carved for my grandmother, with albatrosses carved in the lid. My father, Major Ray Dan Pineo, retired from the Marine Corps in July 1966. He was born in Seattle on January 7, 1919. He graduated from Lincoln High School in 1937, and enlisted in the Marines in August 1940, entering active duty in November of that year. He went to aviation mechanics’ school in Jacksonville, Florida, having gone through the Panama Canal in a Navy transport ship, which I believe departed from either San Diego or San Francisco. After completing the mechanics’ training, he returned to the west coast by train. I had occasion to visit Amarillo, Texas a number of times for meetings, and I remember Dad telling me how Amarillo was where he switched trains from one pulled by a steam locomotive to a more modern (and much cleaner!) train pulled by a diesel locomotive.

Dad was with VMF 221 in San Diego when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and he told me they spent the next 27 hours provisioning the Saratoga before steaming to Oahu. Dad was part of Task Force 14, steaming toward Wake Island when it fell to the Japanese, and if I remember him correctly, it was diverted to Midway, where VMF 221 (then MAG 22?) was delivered to Eastern Island on Christmas Day, December 25, 1941. A little over 5 months later, the Battle of Midway played out. Dad said that the pilot assigned to his Brewster Buffalo was killed in the first half hour or so of the initial Japanese attack. My memory might be faulty but he said the Marine aviator was young, I think 19. I would sure like to find out which of those young marine aviators this was. Dad also described a marine sergeant who had modified a machine gun for anti-aircraft use, with bicycle handle bars. Is there any corroborating lore about this?

Dad was assigned to guarding Japanese prisoners on, I believe, an oiler returning to Pearl Harbor after the battle. There were two, I believe junior officers, with whom he and another marine played cards with, though they weren’t supposed to fraternize with the prisoners. I know that Dad reunited with one of these men in Japan in the 1970s, after Dad had retired from the USMC and joined Pan Am. This former Japanese officer had gone on to become an executive in a Japanese company. I’m sorry I cannot recall his name.

Dad told me a number of times that naval and marine squadrons and air groups were frequently reconfigured during the war in the Pacific theater, and I confirmed this while reading about the Battle of Midway on another website. I have just completed Craig Symond’s excellent book on the battle, at the end of which he acknowledges the significant help your organization provided.

Dad went on to participate throughout the Pacific campaign and I have a map which my grandmother Gladys Morton Pineo kept safely, on which he drew the routes his units took throughout the remainder of the war. In May of 1945 Dad was accepted into the NAVCAD program, through which enlisted marines could become aviators and officers. He had to resign from the Marines, enter the Navy where, if I remember it correctly, he was commissioned an ensign. He earned his aviator gold wings in November, 1945 at Ely, Nevada. He met my Mom, Inga Anderson, in Corpus Christi, Texas, during instrument flight training. My Mom was a WAVE and a Link simulator trainer. They married in 1946. Dad did additional flight training at Pensacola and was later assigned to Corsair squadrons at Cherry Point and Pensacola, where he qualified for carrier operations.

I was born at Cherry Point early in 1950. Dad was deployed to Korea in November, 1952 with VMF 212, then VMA 323 (the Death Rattlers), flying CAS and CAP in 100 missions, plus time on the front lines as a forward air controller, as many marine aviators did. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Reading the citation, which I never had done until after Dad’s death in 2012, was a jolting experience. He always minimized the significance of it, saying “They gave them out to everyone”. I’m sure many or even most of the guys who flew CAS in Korea deserved the DFC, but it was certainly not awarded without being earned.

Editors Note:  The images are quite a bit larger.  So if you want more detail right click on the image and download it or view it.  I sent an email asking him if he could send scans of some of the photo's his Dad took while on Midway Island but that was just a day ago so don't expect any yet.  If he sends them I'll publish them in the next newsletter.  Quite a service record.

A Val from Hiryu attacking Yorktown

Editors Note:  Every once in a while I run across a photo taken during the battle that I have not seen before.  This happens to be one of them.  This image was apparently copied from a 35mm movie shot during the attack on Yorktown.  The film was shot by US Navy Photographer’s Mate Second Class William G. Roy during the battle.  Now I have never seen any film shot during one of the attacks on Yorktown so can't vouch for the accuracy of the image although it is credited to the US Navy.  At any rate thought it interesting enough to share.  If anyone has info on the film shot from Yorktown during the battle by all means chime in.   Apparently the film is now in storage.  Have not found any video's of his film but will keep looking. Here is what I found on him from 2008.

Arming an SBD

Editors Note:  Also found this picture.  For anyone that has not seen how an SBD is armed with a bomb or even how it is attached and released this image gives us a pretty good idea.  This picture is obviously posed after the bomb is already secured.  The cart the bomb is rolled out on is out of the picture so this is just showing the bomb and mechanism.  The bomb does not look all that secure but it is.  What you don't see in the picture is how the arms attach to the bomb.  Seems like the bomb is just kinda hanging there.  But the ends of the arms are inserted into a slot on each side of the bomb running at an upwards angle to the rear of the bomb.  The bomb is attached to the underside of the airplane by the release mechanism.  There is also an arming device attached there as well.  Unfortunately for VB-3 the new electronic arming was crossed with the release and so caused 4 bombs to be harmlessly dropped into the ocean.  Fortunately this was stopped by Leslie after lost his and figured out what was wrong and warned his squadron to use the manual arming rather than the electronic.  A Dauntless I built as one of my first models had a pretty good replication of this.  You could even drop the bomb and the arm would swing out before the bomb fell away.  Still have the model.  One of the few that survived my many moves over the years.