Roundtable Forum
Our 24th Year
June 2021

In this issue.

Roundtable Opening Remarks
Lone Star Flight Museum
Another Look at "The Flight to Nowhere"
James Hornfischer
Richard Fleming
Midway SB2U Vindicator
Nagumo dithers at Midway
Comments from our members
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

Welcome to the relaunch of the Battle of Midway Roundtable. We’ve been in drydock for the past several months while I work through the process of moving the entire site and its multiple resources to a more accommodating server. It’s been no small undertaking, but we’re happy with the result and believe we are now well situated to get underway once again.

First, a word about what it’s taken to get this far, and how we’re going to aim for success going forward. You can probably appreciate the challenges I’ve faced as a small business owner during the coronavirus era. Managing one’s business is automatically the primary concern and focus 24/7, so devoting sufficient time to maintaining the Roundtable’s high standards, especially during the ongoing pandemic, has been doubly challenging. Frankly, I needed some help in order to make it work at an acceptable level, and I’m pleased to announce that we have it. Ron Russell, our former editor and webmaster, has agreed to join me in a new team effort to enable the Roundtable to carry on with a level of content and quality that our members have come to expect over the past 24 years.

I will continue as webmaster, ensuring that our newsletter and other online features are as comprehensive, timely, and up to date as possible. Ron will take over the membership correspondence duty, answering email messages or Midway research inquiries. He will also receive and forward your contributions for our newsletter, which I will then prepare for publication. Ron’s messages to you, if any, will come from his old Roundtable email account,, but you can ignore that—our email address remains unchanged at Anything you send to or click “reply” on from either address will get to the right place; don’t give it any thought.

Ron also invites contact by phone or text if that will help you in any way. We won’t be publicizing the number on the Internet, but members may request it by email.

We are looking forward to continuing the Roundtable’s legacy, launched so long ago by Bill Price with little idea how its reach would expand among Midway veterans, historians, and journalists throughout the U.S. and beyond. With our members’ support, Bill’s vision will endure for years to come.


On June 4th, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum hosted an online webinar observance of the BOM’s 79th anniversary, jointly presented by Jon Parshall and retired Air Force Lt. General Daniel P. Leaf, a vice president of the museum. You may recall the museum’s fine Zoom production during last year’s anniversary, again featuring Jon plus Midway author Craig Symonds (see the June 2000 issue of the Roundtable’s newsletter).

General Leaf, a long-serving fighter pilot, is an enthusiastic supporter of the museum and of military aviation in general, and he served as an able host for this year’s event. Participants from around the world submitted comments and questions that were mostly answered by Jon, but exclusively by the general when Jon’s Internet service decided to fail for an extended period.

The production included a good mix of the basics of the battle, such as the incredible three-day repair job on the Yorktown, the vital role of communications intelligence, the key leadership personalities on both sides, and the relative advantages and disadvantages that each possessed.

Jon also touched on some of the battle’s aspects that are subject to debate if not myth-busting, such as whether the BOM was truly the turning point of the Pacific war, the real reason for Midway’s “water ruse” message (it wasn’t to find the meaning of “AF”), and whether the IJN’s line of battle at Midway really gave them the “overwhelming odds” that historians often claim.

Due to the Internet interruption mentioned above plus another one that occurred at the end of the program, the museum will extend the presentation with an additional Zoom conference on Friday, June 25th. The start time was not announced prior to the publication of this newsletter, but everyone who participated in the June 4th conference will receive an email announcement before the 25th with full information and the usual Zoom instructions. If you missed it on the 4th and would like to log in on the 25th, send us an email request at and we’ll forward the link.

The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum rates a major BZ (well done) for conducting their anniversary observances both this year and last, during conditions that have made almost any type of annual celebration impossible. We can all look forward to next year when, hopefully, the 80th BOM anniversary will be a grand Navy-wide and worldwide event that looks a lot more like those of prior years.



In an era when almost nothing is “normal,” we’re pleased to acknowledge those with a strong appreciation for the importance of the BOM who have done their best to celebrate its anniversary. That’s the case at the Lone Star Flight Museum in Houston, Texas, which commemorated the battle on Saturday, June 5th with a special presentation by Roundtable member Brock Howe, a volunteer at the museum.

Brock Howe presenting the museum’s 79th BOM anniversary program at the museum. Note the fully restored SBD in the background.

The museum is a fitting venue for a BOM observance, in part due to its beautifully restored SBD, which actually started life as an Army A-24. The links below include a page featuring the plane, including its specifications, a picture album, and its complete history from AAF service to its rebirth in Navy colors at the museum.

The Roundtable is happy to salute Brock and the staff and volunteers at the Lone Star Flight Museum for remembering the Battle of Midway on its anniversary and for their fine collection of flyable vintage warbirds. Check out the details here:

Home page:




From Brock Howe
June 7, 2021

Attached are a few pictures from my presentation on Saturday at the Lone Star Flight Museum. Obviously it’s a lot of information to put into a one hour presentation but I did the best that I could do and learned some things and will make it even better next year! Thanks again to the Roundtable for educating me about the battle and thus allowing me to pass it down to others. I couldn’t do it without leaning heavily on your knowledge. We didn’t have a real big attendance (around 50 people or so) but every little bit helps to keep the history alive.

From Brock Howe
June 8, 2021

AND following up on this presentation, on Sunday I took a group of our firefigthers (I’m also a Captain with one of the local fire departments) and their families to the museum to tour our aircraft and talk about the BOM and then we went back to the fire station and watched the Midway movie (2019 version) and they all seemed to have a good time and was educational to them as well. Just a whole weekend of BOM activities!


While checking out the many features of a very good Youtube channel, Barrett Tillman found a new video on the June 4th flight of the Hornet air group. The channel is Military Aviation History, and the video is entitled “The Unsolved Disaster at Midway—the Flight to Nowhere.”

At this late date, one could reasonably argue that the Flight to Nowhere is no longer an “unsolved disaster.” The short version of what happened starts with the primitive carrier doctrine that existed in early 1942, which led Hornet skipper Marc Mitscher to believe that he could decide exactly how and where his air group would be engaged in battle, regardless of directives from his task force commander—those were to be considered general guidelines rather than explicit orders. Consequently, when PBY pilot Howard Ady reported “two carriers” when four were expected, Mitscher assumed that the remaining two were trailing behind in a separate task group and decided to send his squadrons off in a futile search for a target that didn’t exist. When that turned out to be among the worst guesses of the war, he falsified the Hornet’s after-action report to make it appear he hadn’t guessed wrong at all and was simply the victim of bad luck while trying to do what he was told.

With that in mind, I decided to watch the 28-minute video upon Barrett’s recommendation. To be sure, there was nothing new in its content, but the narration and especially the graphics are worth your time. The speaker is German, so ignore the accent since his English is probably better than some people you know. He exhibits a very good understanding of the issues of the F-to-N as highlighted above, and relates them to the listener with convincing clarity and occasionally with some wry humor, describing Waldron’s last radio transmission to Ring as figuratively “giving his boss the finger.” He’s particularly adept at explaining some of the flight’s finer details, like exactly what a “deferred departure” was, why Mitscher decided upon it, why it was another lousy decision for him, and why it pretty much doomed VF-8 from landing back on board.

The CGI is only video game-quality, far simpler than anything like Jurassic Park or even Midway (2019), but keep your focus on what it’s showing rather than its cartoon look. You get to watch all four of Hornet’s squadrons in flight, following their tracks from beginning to end with excellent attention to detail. Despite knowing the outcome, I was riveted to the screen until the final minute. I don’t think any Roundtable member will be disappointed, regardless how well-versed you are in the subject. Here’s the video:

(Full disclosure: although the narrator cited me and No Right to Win in a couple spots, that had no effect on this independent review.)



Just as Thom was putting the final touches on the new Battle of Midway Roundtable newsletter, we received the stunning news of the passing of Jim Hornfischer, the renowned author of The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, Neptune’s Inferno, Ship of Ghosts, and The Fleet at Flood Tide. I hope that all Roundtable members have read at least some, if not all of those monumental best sellers.

For me, Tin Can Sailors is possibly the most memorable of the set, although it’s tough to pick a winner—everything Jim put to ink seemed to come across as a masterwork. But the Tin Can Sailors story is one of those colossal events that turned out well when it should not have, not unlike the Battle of Midway itself. For that reason it’s the kind of tale that resonates very well here, even though its topic is outside of our normal focus.

In addition to Jim’s achievements as a naval history author, he served as an agent for other authors, and in the process provided an extremely valuable service to me without fully realizing it. He was my first choice for an agent when I began seeking a publisher for No Right to Win early in 2006. After reviewing my initial manuscript, Jim turned it down but generously provided an abundance of detailed recommendations that I was happy to implement in the final draft. His influence is evident in the fact that, somewhat to my surprise, the book continues to sell quite well after 15 years.

To say the least, Jim’s passing at such an early age is a tragedy for all; obviously for his family to an unimaginable degree, but also for the rest of us who have enjoyed his craft immensely and expected to do so for years, even decades to come. You can read his obituary here:

I’ve said this on these pages many times in the past, and it’s no less appropriate in this case: fair winds and following seas to one of the good guys and a truly fine friend of the Roundtable.


Richard Fleming and SBD-2 Dauntless 2111

From Barrett Tillman
April 3, 2021

Mickeen first contacted me as he's a serious modeler but things have progressed since then. Note the a/c record cards below.

Barrett sends

Mr. Tillman I have some information regarding the SBD-2 Dauntless Richard Fleming flew with Eugene Card at Midway. As you probably have heard SBD 2106 flown by Iverson and Reid is on display at the National Museum Of Naval Aviation (it is the only surviving Midway aircraft) that was recovered from Lake Michigan by A&T Recovery. Another SBD-2 Dauntless from VMSB-241 was also lost in Lake Michigan, that was SBD-2 Dauntless BuNo. 2111 "White 2" flown by Richard Fleming (Congressional Medal Of Honor) and Eugene Card. It returned with a fire on the fuselage, a shot out tire and 179 holes. Due to the circumstances of it's loss (read accident card) it will not be recovered. Apparently 2111 would be more historic than 2106. I also attached the history card for 2111, it was originally in VB-2 as "2B7".


Editors Note: There were three other images but they are little hard to read.  I'll see if I can enhance them a bit and post them next month.

From Barrett Tillman

Dear Mickeen,

My old (2002) aviation Medals of Honor book shows Fleming's SBD as 2011 but now I do not have the reference material since I contributed most of that to the USS Midway museum archive.

I'd like to share your info with the Battle of Midway Roundtable  as well as the following biographical profile.

TogetherWeServed - Capt Richard Eugene Fleming This Military Service Page was created/owned by Cpl Elizabeth Davis to remember Marine Capt Richard Eugene Fleming. If you knew or served with this Marine and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.  

Sincerely, Barrett

From Mickeen Hogan

That is perfectly ok! It is too bad it cannot be recovered. Hill Goodspeed gave this info during a presentation on SBD 2106, and Taras Lyssenko gave me the history cards and accident cards. Link Hill Goodspeed's SBD 2106 presentation here, he talks about 2111 when he took questions. This should give some excellent research. While we don't know for sure what happened to 2111 on Lake Michigan, we presume Brown became disoriented and crashed due to the snowstorm, which likely destroyed the plane.

Midway SB2U Vindicator color evaluation

From Zsolt Szalanczi
February 23, 2021

On this internet site is an excellent evaluation of the colors of SB2U-3 Vindicators flown by VMSB-241 on Midway - based on the John Ford film. There are pictures of some finished models as well, interesting possibly not only for the aircraft modeler community:

With further internet surfing I found also a blog featuring a pic of VMSB-241 pilots:

Hope it is worth sharing with the Roundtable.
With kind regards,

Nagumo dithers at Midway

From Barrett Tillman
January 20, 2021

Skimming thru, it looks detailed. Meaty portion around 21 minutes.

Also noted this today: January 20 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt issues an Executive Order placing Midway Islands under the jurisdiction of the Navy Department due to recurring complaints of Japanese squatters and poachers.

Editors Note:  This is a pretty good documentary on the Battle.  Part 2 is here:

I have not been able to find part 3 but it might not have been made yet.

Announcements and Questions

Member Comments on the Relaunch of the Battle of Midway RoundTable

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1 June 2021

From: Brock Howe

Just checking in as I haven’t heard anything from the roundtable in a while and the website is down.  Hopefully all is OK?  I know you were switching over to a new host earlier this year so hopefully that is going well too.

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6 June 2021

From:  Zsolt Szalanczi

Dear Thom, I hope this e-mail finds you well.  There were no signs from the Battle of Midway Round Table for a long time now....I miss the RT as it has been a part of my life for over twenty years. I hope you are healthy and safe and the silence is due only to technical matters. Please let me know in case there is anything I can help with from here, the other side of the world, let it be financial or technical issues.   

Best regards from Germany.

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(Note: in response to the above messages and others like it, Thom sent a notice to all members on June 8th, announcing that the BOMRT will get underway again soon via a new web server.  The following is a sampling of your responses to that initial announcement, and they were all very welcome.  Your continuing interest will help a great deal to keep the Roundtable going into its fourth decade.  —RR)

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8 June 2021

From:  Paul Sanchez

Thank you Mr. Walla.  It’s very good news that the BOM roundtable is alive and well.

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8 June 2021

From:  Bill Vickrey

Well done, my friend.  Thank you.

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8 June 2021

From:  William Longton

Thank you Tom!  The BOMRT return has been anxiously awaited!

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8 June 2021

From: Steve Dalzell

Thank you Thom.  Your email made my evening!  Well done!

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9 June 2021

From:  Don Boyer

Congratulations to you and your "team" for putting it all back together for all of us, we really appreciate it, and understand it must have been quite an effort on your part with everything else that's going on.  Looking forward to the new site.

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9 June 2021

From:  Andries Visser

Good News!

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9 June 2021

From:  John Rodenburg

Thank you, for all you do.

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9 June 2021

From:  Scott Kair

Thank you tremendously for all your efforts during these challenging times.  Part of me wanted to contact you to ask about it, but my deliberative self had some sort of visceral hunch that things were progressing and that I'd only be a bother and delay things more.


Thanks again, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who breathed a sigh of relief at today's update.

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9 June 2021

From:  Mike Allen

Thom – I want to thank you for all of the time, energy and passion you put into the roundtable. I can’t imagine the number of things you must have been juggling over the last 6 months.  I know there are a lot of us that look forward to each newsletter and I don’t know where we would be without you.

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9 June 2021

From:  John Seward

Looking forward to it. Thanks Thom.

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9 June 2021

From:  William Reece

Thom, thank you for all of your hard work and long hours. A thankless but essential task. I look forward to the new website and I'm sure the legacies of Bill Price and Ron Russell will continue.

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9 June 2021

From:  Jack Donahoe

Thanks.  Looking forward to the continuation of BOMRT.  Congratulations.

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9 June 2021

From:  Warren Heller

Thank you so much for all your work to keep the roundtable going.  Also appreciated your announcement of its new venue.

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9 June 2021

From:  Terry Gower

Tom, glad to hear it.  Thanks for all the hard work you do.  I really enjoy the monthly issue, and look forward to the new BOMRT.

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9 June 2021

From:  Alan Zielinski

Thank You So Very Much!

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9 June 2021

From:  Charles Bosher


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11 June 2021

From:  Manual Gil

Happy to know this achievement is done. Thanks very much for your efforts.

After twenty-five years and still receiving these appreciated e-mails of the Battle of Midway Roundtable.

My best wishes for you all.

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(Thom and I deeply appreciate the foregoing kind messages from so many Roundtable members, whether expressed with the eloquent brevity of Charles Bosher or with the depth of Zolt Szalanczi.  You can be assured that we’ll give the new BOMRT our best shot at meeting everyone’s expectations in a continuing effort to promote the true history of the Battle of Midway and to honor the men who won it.  —RR)