The Battle of Midway
June 3 - 6, 1942


USS Portland's SOC-1 Scout
By John Greaves

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On 7 June 1942, near Midway, the newly promoted LT(jg) Ralph "Kaiser" Wilhelm and ARM1c Fred Dyer were assigned the task of searching for downed Navy flyers lost during the Battle of Midway.

"About 0600, just at sunrise, quite a number of people sighted a yellow very star a couple of miles behind us. The MORRIS was sent back and I was also catapulted to try and locate its source. I searched for an hour and a half but couldn't see a thing. I was hoping I might see a lost pilot in a life raft but I believe it must have been a submarine because the emergency recognition for subs this morning was a yellow star. When I returned we had joined the other ships and the tanker was along side us. Two ASTORIA planes were up for the inner air patrol so I was recovered."

Flying in Curtiss SOC-1 Seagull, Number 10 (BuNo 9891), this piece depicts the scout and its crew returning to Portland (CA-33). They have started their approach for a portside "dog" recovery, crossing over Portland's bow to join a downwind portside circuit. Portland carried four Seagulls at Midway.

Nimitz Arrives At Pearl Harbor - December 25, 1941
By John Greaves

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I was privileged to be one of the pilots that flew Adm. Nimitz from San Diego to Pearl Harbor on Christmas Day, 1941, about two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Adm. Nimitz was to relieve Adm. Husband Kimmel and take over the badly wounded Pacific Fleet.

We took off from San Diego in the early evening of 24 Dec in a PB2Y-2, Coronado, BuNo. 1635. The Coronado was a 4 engine seaplane, a big brother of the PBY Catalina.

My log book shows the flight took 17.2 hours and we arrived at Pearl Harbor about mid morning of Christmas day, 1941.

Upon arriving at Pearl, we invited Adm. Nimitz up to the flight deck and asked him if he would like to observe the damage and destruction inflicted by the Japs. He eagerly accepted.

We made wide circles over Pearl Harbor as well as Hickham Field. He was seated in the left hand pilot's seat for purposes of this observation and he just kept shaking his head and clucking his tongue. God knows what was going through his mind but if it was anything like what was going through ours it was: "Those dirty bastards! Somehow, someway, we are going to make them pay!"

We were looking at the West Virginia, the California, the Utah, the Arizona, all crumpled hulks. We were looking at skeletons of what were once hangars and flight lines filled with the junk of what were once military planes. The carnage was sickening.

And with all of this on his mind, what was Adm. Nimitz' demeanor as he disembarked to take on this great responsibility? He took the time to shake the hand of every member of the crew and thank them for a comfortable flight and apologized to each for having taken them from their families on Christmas Day! What a giant of a man. What a great leader to take over the Pacific Fleet!

Why do I write this now? Two reasons: First, because I feel proud that we were able to deliver the right man to the right place at the right time. And second, I said I was one of the pilots on that flight. The others were Lt. Bowen F. McLeod, USNA '30, Ens. Ross C. Barney, Ens. Thomas Robinson, Ens. Frank L. DeLorenzo (all ex-aviation cadets) and Warrant Machinist Clarence L. Pearson. So why DO I write this now? Because of those five, I am the only one still living and I am 84 years old.

Tomorrow might be too late!

March 28, 1999 Frank DeLorenzo,
Captain, U.S. Navy(Ret.)

'Demonstrating My Douglas Dive Bomber'
By John Greaves

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LT Clarence E. Dickinson, with his gunner, J. F. DeLuca, ARM1c, of Enterprise's Scouting Six, make their slow-speed escape from Kido Butai in SBD-3 S-10 (BuNo 03208) on June 4, 1942. After a long, gas-guzzling flight, Dickinson, along with the rest of Scouting Six and most of Bombing Six, attacked Kaga at around 1020. The ninth plane to dive, Dickinson saw his '500-pound bomb hit right abreast of the island.' This was the fourth direct hit on Kaga and the last recorded by the Japanese.

Upon completion of his dive, having spotted three A6M2's, Dickinson mistakenly lowered his landing flaps instead of retracting the dive flaps. Noticing the error only when he saw his SBD was making 95 knots and that he had 'undoubtedly grabbed the wrong handle' when trying to close up the dive flaps, Dickinson now 'really did some grabbing. Some of our people who were still around told me later on that to them it seemed as if I were demonstrating my Douglas dive bomber. Landing flaps were opening; diving flaps were opening; my wheels were up and down and my activity was like a three-ring circus.'

Upon clearing the screen, Dickinson nursed his SBD back towards Task Force 16. Short of fuel from the extended search for the Japanese carriers and alone for much of the return trip, S-10 ditched near the destroyer Phelps, a ship Dickinson served on for over two years before he earned his wings, and pilot and gunner were promptly rescued.

The original work was commissioned by and presented to me by John Greaves. Thank you John!! Portions of the above account are from The Flying Guns: Cockpit Record of a Naval Pilot from Pearl Harbor through Midway, by Clarence E. Dickinson.

Last Mission of the Devastators
By John Greaves

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This image depicts the last combat mission of the Douglas TBD-1 Devastator, June 6, 1942. LT Robert E. Laub (pilot) and William Colquitt Humphrey, Jr., ARM1c (gunner) in T-4 (BuNo 0350) led ENS Jamie S. Morris and David R. Butler, ARM2c in T-3 (BuNo 0279) and MACH Harry A. Mueller and Ronald W. Graetz, ARM3c in T-5 (BuNo 0368), all survivors of Torpedo 6 from Enterprise, on a mission to attack the retreating Japanese heavy cruisers Mogami and Mikuma. Laub was told by RADM Raymond Spruance that if they encountered any resistance whatsoever that they were not to press an attack and bring the "pickles" back home. The image shows the flight trying to make an approach against the Japanese force, but receiving some close anti-aircraft fire, which led them after a few tries to return to Enterprise without dropping their torpedoes. SBDs are in the background diving on the already damaged cruisers and their escorts.

The original work was presented to Ronald Graetz, the gunner of T-5 on June 6, 1942, by John Greaves.

You Test the Weight and I'll Test the Wind
By John Greaves


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ENS George H. Gay, with his gunner, Robert K. Huntington, ARM3c, climbing into the rear cockpit, spotted first for takeoff from Torpedo Eight on U.S.S. Hornet on the morning of June 4, 1942, is visited during a delay by ENS Ulvert M. "Whitey" Moore who was spotted behind him. They joked about never having launched with a torpedo slung under their aircraft, and had never even seen it done. Moore said "You test the weight and I'll test the wind," to which Gay responded, "I'll do my best, buddy, if I go into the drink she's too heavy so you ask for more speed to get more wind over the deck." With a grin and a thumbs up, Moore returned to his TBD, and soon they were launched.

The Midway Marauders
By John Greaves

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Two B 26 Marauders of the 69th Bombardment Squadron ( Medium ) / 38th Bombardment Group and two from the 18th Reconnaissance Squadron ( Medium ) / 22nd Bombardment Group, attack Kido Butai at about 0710 June 4, 1942, using torpedoes instead of their normal bomb load. Two Zeroes of a group of six from the CAP slice through the diamond formation at 700 ft., as the Marauders start a quick descent to 200 ft. TBF Avengers of Torpedo 8 (Detachment) have started an attack just ahead. This is the moment when the formation started to break up. Lead aircraft, and the flight, is commanded by CAPT James F. Collins (2dLT Colin O. Villines, 2dLT Thomas N. Weems, Jr., SGT Ernest M. Mohon, Jr., SGT Jack D. Dunn, TSGT Raymond. S. White and CPL John D. Joyce). The left wing B 26 (42-1424) is commanded by 1stLT Herbert C. Mayes (2dLT Garnett M. McCallister, 2dLT William D. Hargis, 2dLT Gerald J. Barnicle, SSGT Salvatore Battaglia, PVT Benjamin F. Huffstickler and PVT Roy W. Walters), who will go down after narrowly missing Akagi. Right wing is 1stLT William S. Watson (2dLT L. H. Whittington, 2dLT John P. Schuman, SGT James E. Via, SSGT Richard C. Decker, CPL Albert E. Owen and CPL Bernard C. Sietz), who is seen here already having taken some hits, and will go down well short of the target. The tailing B 26 (42-1391) is commanded by 1stLT James P. Muri (2dLT Pren L. Moore, 2dLT William W. Moore, 2dLT Russell H. Johnson, TSGT John J. Gogoj, CPL Frank L. Melo, Jr., and PFC Earl D. Ashley). No ships were struck, and both Collins and Muri managed to clear Kido Butai and return to Midway with heavy damage. Both pilots did fantastic jobs landing their damaged Marauders without further incident, and without blocking the runway.

Hornet Lands a Wildcat

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U.S.S. Hornet, CV-8, receives an F4F from Fighting 8's CAP near Midway in June 1942. This piece was commissioned for Fred Branyan, who's father served in the crew of 5" gun number 5, the forward gun, in the starboard aft galley.

Acknowledgements: John Greaves would like to acknowledge the help of Mark Horan and Barrett Tillman, who provided details about the history behind these images. John also would like to thank Bill Price for his work in creating the Midway E-mail Circular, which connected all of us together, and Chris Hawkinson, creator of this website.

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