Roundtable Forum
Our 25th Year
June 2022

In this issue.

Roundtable Opening Remarks
BOM-80 in Hawaii, June 7th
BOM-80 at The Lone Star Flight Museum
BOM-80 on the Internet
What's Wrong with this Picture?
Craig Symonds on the Flight to Nowhere
The BOM at Eighty
Dauntless Movie, Free Online
Interesting BOM Website
From Our Senior BOM Vet
Book Review The US Navy's "On the Roof" Gang (Vol1 and 2)
Now Hear This!
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

Welcome to the June Issue of the Battle of Midway RoundTable and the Celebration of 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway.  Eighty years ago Admiral Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Fleet, made a calculated gamble based on some spotty information from his key code breakers about a Japanese attack on Midway.  Based on this information he gathered what remained of the US Pacific Fleet in the form of his 3 operational carriers, one of them having just arrived damaged from the Battle of Coral Sea, and their escorts.  He did have a few old battleships that escaped the attack on Pearl Harbor but they were slow and would not be much help other than to stand guard off Hawaii.

Facing the 17 ships of the US Pacific fleet was nearly the entire Japanese Navy steaming towards Midway hoping to draw out and do battle with the US carriers that were missed when they attacked Pearl Harbor.  Four fleet carriers, two light carriers, 11 battleships, numerous cruisers and destroyers, as well as an invasion fleet to take Midway itself.

The battle resulted in the loss of all four of the Japanese fleet carriers and in one day the US Navy not only avenged the attack on Pearl Harbor but also reversed the carrier disparity between the two fleets.  There is a long standing argument on whether the Battle of Midway was the turning point in the Pacific war or the Guadalcanal campaign.  While it is often debated I am always reminded of what Churchill said after World War I that Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, was "the only man on either side who could lose the war in an afternoon."

Well Nagumo was also such a man.

This month we have a lot to get to as Ron Russell put together a great newsletter.  Enjoy.


Presentation of the colors to open the event on June 7th

The June 7th BOM-80 commemoration on Oahu was possibly one of the best such events anywhere this time around. A nice crowd gathered at the “Punchbowl” cemetery for a moving observance that focused on the U.S. KIA at Midway, and what their sacrifice meant for the outcome of World War II and beyond.

The Roundtable was present in the form of two of our BOM veterans who were honored guests for the event: Midway Marine Ed Fox and Yorktown petty officer Julian Hodges were the only two Midway vets able to make it to the event, but they ably represented all of their compatriots. For more about Ed and Julian, see our December 2021  and March 2022  newsletters.

Midway veterans Ed Fox and Julian Hodges, representing the Roundtable as well as all BOM vets at the June 7th ceremony.
CINCPACFLT Admiral Samuel J. Paparo, the current holder of Admiral Nimitz’ title during the BOM, was the keynote speaker. Like the entire event, Admiral Paparo’s speech focused on the battle in general but especially the sacrifice of those killed in action, some of whom are interred at the Punchbowl. As an interesting aside for the Roundtable, the admiral—a former Navy fighter pilot and carrier commander—said that while the courage of everyone in the battle deserved the highest praise and honor, “the performance of our carriers was uneven” (italics added), a clear reference to the Hornet air group and the Flight to Nowhere. (Clear to us anyway, if not everyone in the audience.)

We were further represented in an indirect way by the closing dedication, by name, to each of the 381 U.S. KIA during the battle. The event’s sponsors came to us in March for help in identifying those specific names, since getting that information from various Defense Department sources had proven impossible. Thanks to a resource provided some years ago by Jon Parshall, we had all of those names on our website (click here ), and it was a simple matter of providing the host with a link. They were supremely grateful.

The image above shows one panel of the closing Midway KIA dedication. Among the others, you’ll spot the names of Norman Vandivier and Lee Keaney, the VB-6 aircrew who were the subjects of the Dauntless: The Battle of Midway movie cited elsewhere in this newsletter.

The event was very well conducted in all respects, and the sponsors rate a sincere salute for making it available worldwide via Internet streaming. If you missed it, click the following link for the recording. It runs a little over an hour:

The photos here are cell phone camera shots from my big screen TV, so the resolution won’t be as good as what you usually see in our newsletters.

In closing, a final BZ to Ed and Julian for serving as living representatives of everything that was important about the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Midway.



5 June 2022
From: Brock Howe

A quick update on my 80th anniversary presentations at the Lone Star Flight Museum in Houston on Saturday, June 4, 2022. I thought they went very well and it was the biggest crowd we’ve ever had for a hangar talk with about 50 people in attendance for my first presentation. It was such a good turnout that I decided to do another one later in the afternoon which drew another 50+ people! We were all very excited about that, as we’re reaching people and keeping the history alive.

I decided to wear some of my pilot re-enactor gear to add to the presentation, as you can see in the pictures. I got good questions on the gear and let some the children in attendance try them on for their photos.

We did the presentation between our SBD and TBM to help explain the aircraft and tactics involved in the torpedo and dive bomber attacks. We also let folks go behind the chains to get a closer look at the SBD and TBM and the cockpit and rear gunner’s position of the SBD.

We had several children and young adults participating and asking some great questions. I love that aspect as we’re keeping that history alive and passing it down to the next generation. I tried to keep the presentation to an hour but there’s just so much to say, it would take me 1.5 hours. But the good news: most people hung in there and didn’t fall asleep.

There were also a couple members of the Roundtable who came up to me after the first presentation and chatted a bit, but I got busy answering other questions and wasn’t able to chat with them very much. I tried to find them later but was unable to do so. Whoever you two were, thanks for coming out and sorry that I don’t recall your names, but would love to have you back to the museum sometime in the future.

Anyway, a very good day, and thanks to y’all on the Roundtable for providing information that I could use for the presentation.
Great job and report, Brock. You rate a special BZ for going the extra mile to promote and conduct such a fine BOM-80 presentation, and here it is:


1. Jon Parshall has an interesting BOM-80 video on the Drachinfel warship Youtube channel. It’s a bit different than the usual such program, with Jon and the host simply engaging in casual discussion over a wide range of subjects.

Of course, the content is largely familiar to most of us here, but there were a few new topics that sparked interest. One of them concerned the anti-aircraft cruiser USS Atlanta (CL-51), part of TF-16 along with five heavy cruisers. On the other hand, TF-17 and the Yorktown were accompanied by only two cruisers, both of which together could not put up the anti-air defense that Atlanta could by itself with its extensive large and medium-caliber AA batteries.

Had Atlanta accompanied Yorktown, the ill-fated carrier might reasonably have survived the battle. In any case, six cruisers including Atlanta escorting TF-16 (virtually no threats from the air) vs. only two standard CAs escorting Yorktown (the target of every Val and Kate that could get there) seems like a poorly-conceived distribution of critical assets. Of course, TF-16 was originally Halsey’s, so maybe that was a factor. An interesting point to ponder in any case.

Here's the Youtube link, and get comfortable because it runs three hours:

By the way, the Drachinfel warship channel has a whole lot more for any naval history fan. Check out their home page here:

2. The BOM-80 program presented by the National World War II Museum also featured Jon in a discussion forum with naval historians Craig Symonds and Trent Hone. The three experts discussed many aspects of both Japanese and U.S. strategy and goals relative to Midway, bringing out several points that haven’t seen a lot of prior analysis. One of the most interesting was Jon’s observation that the only strategy the Japanese had was to pressure the Americans into a “decisive battle” that they believed would force the loser to the negotiating table. Yet they lost every decisive battle themselves after Pearl Harbor, but never followed their own stated strategy to a negotiating table.

The program solidly held my interest through its entire 90-minute run, and I highly recommend it to the Roundtable. Here’s the video:



In the May newsletter, we featured an 80th anniversary article in Naval History magazine that was accompanied by a dramatic painting of a VB-3 Dauntless completing its dive on Soryu. We challenged everyone with a sharp eye for the details of BOM aircraft to find at least one thing quite wrong with the depiction of that particular Yorktown SBD. Here’s a repeat of the painting:

Kent Walters found a few, and the following is an abridged version of three messages he sent over Memorial Day weekend:

29 May 2022
From: Ken Walters

The image of a Yorktown VB-3 Dauntless marked with B7 is inaccurate since it only has one tail stripe instead of two for the bombing group if they used the same marking features as the USS Enterprise that I had researched for scale RC modeling competition. In that same respect, the number 7 on the cowl should be white instead of black. The marked wing-walk area appears to be red in this painting instead of black. Also, the aircraft numbers on the side of the fuselage were aft of the star insignia instead of in front of it.

Kent found a number of other minor details in addition to these, but the side number (position and color) for a VB-3 Dauntless was the most prominent. He cited these NHHC photos showing BOM SBDs with the side number aft of the fuselage roundel instead of in front as in the painting, although neither is a VB-3 aircraft:

VS-5 SBD on Yorktown

VB-8 SBD on Hornet

Still, Kent’s observations are worthy of consideration, given that he’s one of a very few who have actually built a Midway SBD—the flying scale model of George Goldsmith’s 6-B-15 seen on the cover of No Right to Win.

In any case, the main error that was immediately evident to me was the R/G’s twin .30 cal. gun. According to VT-3 R/G Lloyd Childers, the Saratoga squadrons came aboard the Yorktown without any opportunity to upgrade their planes to the dual gun, so they all went to Midway, both SBDs and TBDs, with a single aft gun.

I also wondered about the aircraft number in front of the fuselage roundel: VF-3 Wildcats did have it in front of the roundel as in the painting, but it was white, not black. Check this photo of Tom Cheek’s 3-F-16, upside down on Yorktown’s hangar deck after his crash landing: click here .

I asked SBD expert Barrett Tillman whether my observations were correct re the fuselage number and the single gun. Here is his response


9 May 2022
From: Barrett Tillman

Ref side numbers…it depends. When I was active in antiques and warbirds it was hard to convince some modelers and artists that despite what The Manual said, maintenance over-rode paint, especially in 1942. So markings might be applied in black or white, with or without the V/B/S/T prefix.

Back seater: you are of course entirely correct. But the image of SBD gunners with twin 30s deployed has become so ingrained that I doubt many artistes even consider it.


14 June 2022
From: Barrett Tillman

The gunner has his mount deployed, which almost certainly could not have happened in the very brief time between pullout and overflying the target.

If I remember correctly, Max Leslie said the dive heading was along the ship's length (don't recall if bow to stern) rather than from starboard as shown.


15 June 2022
From: Ron Thorson

I had not yet taken the challenge from the May issue with analyzing the VB-3 painting. Very nice, as it forced me back to the books to research the details.

1. On the Dauntless, I think the Saratoga (CV-3) air group had reduced their fuselage labels to just the aircraft number forward of roundel. This has the "B." Also, VF-3 had white numbers, did the bombers use black?

2. that a wrecked aircraft by the flight deck "meatball?" I thought all aircraft were in hangar or spotted aft on the flight deck.

3. Attack sequence. I'm not sure who was flying aircraft 7, or when in the formation he attacked, but four of Max Leslie’s planes lost 1000 pound bombs in transit and four others peeled off to attack secondary targets after the lead planes slammed Soryu with three hits. Which three SBDs are these?


For Ron’s questions, I’m not certain but I suspect VB-3 would indeed show the “B” with its side numbers, like B7, to be distinct from the Saratoga’s scouting squadron, which would show numbers like S7. The VT and VF squadrons had no need for the squadron letter since they each operated a single aircraft type.

All aircraft were not on the hangar deck or parked aft. The carriers were launching and recovering CAP Zeros, which may account for the wreck seen next to the Hinomaru in the painting.

The four VB-3 pilots who lost their bombs were LCDR Leslie in B-1, ENS Isaman in B-8, ENS Lane in B-11, and ENS Merrill in B-17. The pilot for B-7, in the painting, was LTjg Sherwood.

Thanks to Kent, Barrett, and Ron for joining this typical BOMRT discussion, where the details of the battle presented in art and literature are always subject to a degree of fact-checking that you don’t find elsewhere.



This is a repeat of the notice in our June 15th bulletin concerning the online USNI article by author Craig Symonds, in case you didn’t see it there. (And if you didn’t that probably means you’re not a subscriber—see Now Hear This below to join the Roundtable.)

Craig is the author of one of our two top-rated books on the BOM, The Battle of Midway. The other is Shattered Sword, and if you’ve read both of those, you know the BOM far better than most.

Craig’s article concerns the Hornet, Captain Mitscher, and the Flight to Nowhere. We know those details a lot better today than we did ten years ago when the article appeared in Naval History magazine. It’s a good example of how one of the more respected naval historians helped everyone else to realize that there was something quite wrong about the Navy’s official record of the Hornet at Midway. If you haven’t read the article yet, you can do so here:

The article very closely relates to our own recent project on the Flight to Nowhere posted just last December, and it’s also worth reviewing if you’re not familiar. Find it on our home page under The Roundtable > Special Features, or click this URL:

RE: THE BOM AT EIGHTY (see the May newsletter)

4 June 2022
From: Bill Longton

Today is the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Midway. I wanted to attend the activities at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, but was unable. Since I could not go, I plan to host my own event at a local library in a couple of weeks. That does not satisfy me, as I really wanted to be at NAS Pensacola where so many of the participants of the battle learned their aviation skills at that base.

I began thinking about those aviators and sailors. I realized that at the time the battle took place, most of them were no older than my youngest child (25 years) or younger. Mere children to me. Even the "old salts" were still half my age. In fact, Admiral Nimitz was younger than I am now on June 4th, 1942. What was it like to be them?

I let my mind run free for a while as I tried to put myself in their places throughout the day. The confidence...the excitement...the sudden surprise...the fear in the face of death...the sense of revenge....Did they know what they had accomplished? How long did they grieve for lost friends? Did they despair that it was all for nothing? Did they know that they had snatched victory from the Japanese?

I tried to understand in the best way I could what that day was like for those men as they threw themselves headlong into the battle, seeking to do their duty. With all I have learned of that day, I cannot begin to know what their experience was like. The enormity of what took place on June 4, 1942 is unfathomable for me. In the end, I simply had to hang my head in appreciation for their sacrifice.

Well said, Bill. You have a lot of company in such thoughts.


4 June 2022
From: Stefano Pagiola

FYI, for those who haven’t seen the movie Dauntless: The Battle of Midway, it’s available to stream for free with ads on the website or app.

Good catch, Stefano. It’s also free with ads on Youtube:

Of course, I still recommend the DVD for the extra features; it’s really quite entertaining to see how they put that low-budget flick together and made it work rather well—better than the 2019 Midway movie in some respects. See our review in the November 2021 newsletter:

…with some interesting follow-up in the January 2022 newsletter:



Better late than never—longtime Roundtable contributor Chuck Wohlrab found this website for us last December, and his message has been waiting its turn ever since. Here it is at last, and we’re always interested in websites with a lot of BOM content, even those like this one that might challenge your patience a little.

28 Dec 2021
From: Chuck Wohlrab

I was checking the news on MSN this morning and found this clickbait website listed, entitled "Impressive Facts About The Historic Battle Of Midway" and could not resist clicking. I was actually surprised, because the author of the article had at least a passing knowledge of what he was writing about!

It's not perfect, but he pointed out some interesting facts most people wouldn't know, like the Japanese slowing or stopping production of their carrier bombers at the beginning of the war (Shattered Sword was the first work to address this) or facts about Japanese damage control. I stopped reviewing the site after slide 45, but it seems to have several more.

Also interesting is that I saw a few photos I've not seen before, including an informal picture of Admiral Yamamoto in a civilian suit and some newspaper artwork of the battle. There are some spurious photos as well, such as one page talking of the battle driving new developments in naval warfare and showing a photo of a British carrier (Hermes or Eagle) taking a Swordfish aboard or talking of Japanese damage control but showing a photo of the USS Wasp burning after being torpedoed. Still, a bit of fun to review.

And yes, I know there are both factual and photographic errors, but still amusing. I offer it for the members enjoyment.
Click here  for Chuck’s website find, and be forewarned that, as he says, it’s a clickbaiter: lots of ads. Once you get past that, the site is interesting, but a bit loose with some of the details.


We were delighted to receive this message from one of our BOM vets who has been with the Roundtable from its earliest years and a frequent contributor to our newsletters.

15 June 2022
From: Col. John Miniclier, USMC
BOM vet, 6th Marine Defense Bn.

Dear BOM Roundtable,

This is to let you know that I am still here. I will be 101 July 23. Although invited to the 80th ceremony at the Punchbowl, I decided traveling that far did not make sense for me. I watched the live feed with the assistance of my aide (my daughter) and enjoyed the presentation. I am able to still recall vividly many details of my days on Midway, during the BOM and the many years I proudly served the USMC.

In the past, on request, I have done a few interviews. I have decided not to do any more. Some of the previous ones are available on the Friends of Midway website or FWS, if anyone is interested.

I've enjoyed your publication and read many of the suggested books. Thank you for continuing to educate.

Col. John F. Miniclier, Retired

John, sincere thanks for this message, it’s always great to hear from you. And for our readers, check our January newsletter for some really good then-and-now photos of John. Scroll down to “The Day of Infamy on Midway.” Here’s the link:


Harry Kidder was a U.S. Navy radioman stationed in the Philippines in the 1920s. He was also an avid amateur radio operator, spending a lot of his free time communicating with hams around the world and listening to other shortwave transmissions. Back then virtually all point-to-point radio contacts were via International Morse, at which the Navy’s radiomen were very proficient.

One night Harry heard some strong signals with the dot-dash rhythm of International Morse, except that’s not what it was…there were numerous odd characters with dot-dash sequences that made no sense. What he had heard was the radio code of the Imperial Japanese Navy that employed 50 unique Morse-like characters corresponding to the Japanese romaji alphabet.

Harry made a serious study of the strange signals, ultimately becoming the first bona-fide western expert on what they were, what they meant, and how to copy them. His find ultimately led to a concerted effort by the Navy to train a select cadre of radiomen in copying the Japanese code, conducted in a room that was literally on the roof of the Main Navy building in Washington, DC. Harry Kidder was the first instructor.

The two-volume set is the story of those radiomen, from their training “on the roof” at Main Navy to their deployment to various intercept stations around the Pacific and aboard ships. Their work was often conducted under highly hazardous or even deadly conditions, with several operators captured by the Japanese and others lost aboard ships in battle. The saga of the Station Baker radiomen on Guam is especially gripping, with their ordeal in a Japanese prison camp doubly hazardous—besides simply surviving under terrible conditions, they had to conceal the fact that they were skilled in the Japanese radio code. Had their captors learned of that, their fate would have taken a very dark turn.

A tiny rooftop building at "Main Navy" in Washington was the secret classroom for 25 classes of Japanese radio code intercept operators from 1928 thru 1941.
Author Matt Zullo is an expert in the books’ subject matter, with 35 years of experience in USN communications intelligence. He is a masterful storyteller, making what some might imagine to be a dry subject into a tale that you really don’t want to stop reading. Highly recommended to the Roundtable for the fascinating story of the men who provided all of the raw material that enabled the comm intel teams in Hawaii and Australia to know Japanese plans almost as well as the Japanese themselves, particularly with regard to Coral Sea and Midway.

For those who have been with us a while, you’ll recognize a couple of familiar names in the text: HYPO analyst Mac Showers and intercept operator Phil Jacobsen (called "Jake” back in those days). Both men were key participants on the Roundtable and the source of much of what we learned of the fascinating role played by comm intel during the war. If you’re not familiar with them, take a moment to check them out here; they deserve all the attention you can spare:

Each On the Roof book is a hefty 9 x 6 inch paperback with 400+ pages and ample photos and graphics. You can find them at the usual online vendors, plus the author has a pair of websites for more information. Give these a look:


As mentioned above in the article about Craig Symonds’ USNI article, our 7th mid-month bulletin was sent to all members on June 15th. If you didn’t get it, that likely means we don’t have you on our membership roster. Send an email message to , with JOIN on the subject line and your full name and location in the message body. That will get you both the mid-month bulletin and the separate announcement for the full newsletter a few weeks later. it also puts you in company with over 400 others around the world for whom the Battle of Midway is an abiding interest.

*       *       *       *       *

In the late 1990s, Chris Hawkinson, Sr. in Wisconsin began to build a comprehensive Battle of Midway website. That led him to Bill Price’s daily Midway email broadcasts, which he decided to start posting on his site in October 1997. We now identify that as the starting point for the online Battle of Midway Roundtable that you know today That means our 25th anniversary is coming in just a few months, so we’d like our October newsletter to be just a bit special. Each of you is invited to submit comments or an article that reflects what the Roundtable has meant to you. Suggested topics might include the evolving history of the battle, our interaction with some of the battle’s most respected authors and historians, the experience of associating with actual veterans of the battle, the evolution of the Roundtable itself, or anything else that you might think suitable for the occasion.

Or, if you’re one of those author/historians yourself, how has the Roundtable influenced what you’ve published or presented in the media?

Contributions of that type are invited from newer members as well as our old hands, and from both U.S. and international members. If your decision to follow and participate on the BOMRT has meant something meaningful for you, let us hear about it. Your messages will appear in the October newsletter around the end of that month. We’re very much looking forward to what you have to say.

—Thom Walla, editor and webmaster
—Ron Russell, contributing editor