The Roundtable Forum


Official newsletter of the



To promote an awareness and understanding of the great battle

 and to honor the men who fought and won it



8 AUGUST 2004 ......................... Issue No. 2004-15 ......................... Our 7th Year


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1.  Doug Carter, BOM Vet:  Final Sortie

2.  TBD Combat Range

3.  The BOM on Command Decisions, 30 July '04

4.  Restored SBD at Midway Airport, Chicago




“Doug Carter, BOM Vet:  Final Sortie”



31 July 2004

From:  Clay Fisher   (BOM vet, VB-8 pilot, USS Hornet)


    I ran into a friend of William "Doug" Carter this week and found out Doug had died April 7th from advanced lymphoma.  He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery and is survived by 5 of 6 children.  His wife died in 2002.

    Doug was a dive bomber pilot assigned to Bombing Squadron Eight, a veteran of the BOM and the Santa Cruz battle.  Doug, Roy Gee, and I were pilots assigned to the initial 16 plane flight to attack the Shokaku on 26 October 1942.  Doug and I flew in the VB-8's rear 4-plane diamond section.  Doug had a hole shot in his propeller and his gunner, "Slim" Moore, was shot in the leg.  In spite of a badly vibrating engine, Doug was able to fly about 150 miles and  land on the Enterprise.

      Doug attended the most recent Hornet reunion in San Diego, and that was the first and last time I met him since we walked out of our squadron ready room on the Hornet to man our planes at Santa Cruz.



     Clay and I discussed various photos of Carter and Moore, particularly the one on page 137 of "A Glorious Page In Our History."  The upper left picture caption names two other men, but it's actually Carter (left) and Moore (right).  Compare that photo to this shot of the two at the Hornet-Mustin reunion in 2003:

    Clay then sent me the following message on the subject of other photos found in "A Glorious Page."  --RR



1 August 2004

From:  Clay Fisher   (BOM vet, VB-8 pilot, USS Hornet)


    In A Glorious Page In Our History, page 137, the picture of B11 being moved on the Hornet's flight deck has always made me curious as to the flight crew.  This plane would normally have been assigned to a wingman of the XO flying B10, leader of the second flight division composed of three 3-plane sections.  Squadron records of the aircrew plane assignments for Midway probably were destroyed.  After the war started, Admiral King took half the typewriters away from us to reduce paper work, so the flight officers had to write out their flight schedules by hand!

    Page 150:  the picture of LT Sam Adams and his gunner Joe Karrol was the first picture I had ever seen of that flight crew.  During the June 5th attack on the Tanikaze, I was circling astern of her after recovering from my dive and I watched an SBD diving that never pulled out of its dive.  It exploded close astern of the ship.  Later, in our ready room, I asked CDR Ring who the pilot was in the lost SBD and he sort of cut me off, saying we had not lost a plane.  The next day he apologized and told me it was LT Sam Adams, a Yorktown pilot flying off the Enterprise.  LT Adams was the pilot of the SBD search that had located the Hiryu the afternoon of June 4th.

    Page 155:  Don Griswald, a VS-8 pilot, was lost the morning of June 6th when VB-8 and VS-8 attacked the two Japanese cruisers.  He never rejoined the flight and I don't think anybody knew what actually happened to him.  Some of the VS-8 pilots said Don had told them before the flight he thought he might get killed.  There was always AA when you attacked the ships but I don't remember worrying about the AA that morning.



*     *     *


"TBD Combat Range"



25 July 2004 (via

From:   Alvin Kernan   (BOM vet, AOM3/c, VT-6, USS Enterprise)


    I wonder if anyone on the BOMRT can help me with the following.  I have, courtesy of Steve Ewing, a pre-Midway mimeographed chart of the TBD-1's endurance while carrying various loads with various throttle settings.  Under the "torpedo loaded" column, it states that the plane could carry only 96 gallons of gas with the 2200 lb. load, as compared to 180 gallons for other purposes. At a speed of 100 miles an hour with a torpedo, consumption is said to be 50 gals per hour. I was amazed by that info, which meant that Torpedo 8 at Midway, launched at 155 miles distant from Kido Butai, would not have had enough gas to attack and get back to the ship.

    I checked with the late Tom Cheek, who had been a TBD pilot before he went to fighters, and he replied that the TBD was so underpowered that when you loaded it with over a ton, the gas carried had to be reduced.

    This is what John Waldron’s citation for the Navy Cross says:  “Grimly aware of the hazardous consequences of flying without fighter protection and with insufficient fuel to return to his carrier...”  And George Gay says, "[Waldron] certainly knew we were flying beyond our endurance, to get back to our ship, but we might make it close to or even all the way to Midway Island.”  (Quoted in Shipmate, June-July 1966, p. 307.)

    But others, notably John Lundstrom, do not believe that the TBD when carrying a torpedo was on a suicide mission.  He points out that longer flights were made at the Coral Sea, and that 4 of the VT-6 planes flew pretty close to the same course at Midway as Torpedo 8 and got back aboard.  Cheek said he had talked to all the returning pilots, including the 2 who ditched near the Yorktown--after flying a considerable shorter route than Torpedo 8--and that they had said they ran on fumes for a long time.

    Any help will be greatly appreciated.  If the 96 gals is right, then the TBDs were sent out with no expectation that they would return from a 155 mile strike.



*     *     *


"The B.O.M. on 'Command Decisions,' 30 July 2004"  (see Now Hear This, issue 4-13 & 4-14)



1 August 2004

From:  John Gardner   (BOM vet, 6th MarDefBtn, Midway)


    The History Channel should be ashamed for presenting what is the poorest of all Battle of Midway depictions.   When they infer the Marines were not really understanding what was coming, that is pure ignorance on their part.   As a Midway Mud Marine, we were informed of a possible major attack very early in May, 1942.  Information was trickled out to the troops during the next few weeks.  When ADM Nimitz showed up, we knew full well why he was there.   I  was fortunate at being at my battle station on regular watch when the admiral was escorted through our dugout shelter.  I was called to attention, and he looked me straight in the eye and asked, "how are you, son?"   I replied in two words.  "Fine, sir."

    I can assure all concerned that the Marines were prepared and awaiting the Jap air strike, starting well before daylight, 4 June 1942.  Beginning around 0400, our aircraft started their takeoff and departure to a rendezvous point at Kure Reef.  The B-17s went first, since they had the most fuel.  All aircraft on Eastern Island continued to take off for about 2 hours, and were all holding at Kure Reef, except for the squadron of Brewster Buffalos that were in their revetments, pilots sitting aboard, ready to start engines.  It was sort of like magic--a well planned stage show.

    The last aircraft departed Eastern Island, and our radar detected many unidentified aircraft at 90 miles and about 340 degrees.  The Brewsters immediately took off to meet the incoming Jap aircraft.  They approached at 12,000 feet and dove down and thru the Jap formations.  And, yes, they did shoot down a few enemy aircraft.   But, the Zero fighters quickly shot down most of the Brewsters within minutes.  One Marine pilot, William Brooks, told me this part of the intercept just two years ago at our annual Sixth Def reunion.  Bill Brooks is the last of the Marine pilots still alive and resides in Nebraska.  He landed his Buffalo well shot up, wounded, and was lifted out of the aircraft by the ground Marines.  His was the last U.S. Brewster Buffalo to ever fly  in combat. 



4 August 2004

From:  Patrick Doyle


    I too, was totally disgusted with the History Channel's pathetic show on the BOM!  I have noticed for a long time that whenever the History Channel is responsible for the production of a show, it is absolutely the worst history that is presented.  However, every now and then, they'll show an outstanding production that they've acquired from say NOVA or FRONTLINE, or HBO (i.e. Band of Brothers, etc.).

    Is there any way that we as a group can voice our complete displeasure with their latest show?  Let's circle the wagons and formally let them know how poor their history is!



If anyone is aware of an effective means for passing constructive criticism on a show's content to the History Channel, let me know and I'll send them an appropriate letter.  --RR


*     *     *


"Restored SBD at Midway Airport, Chicago"  (see Marty Krasnitz, issue 4-10; Now Hear This, issue 4-11)



4 August 2004

From:  Taras Lyssenko


    As of right now the following BOM veterans are planning on attending the SBD dedication at Midway Airport, Chicago (I am sure there will be more):


Vernon L Micheel

Ralph B. Hovind

Ivan L Swope

Clayton E Fisher

James Forbes 

John F. Carey

Jesse "Doug" Rollow
Sumner H Whitten
Leon Williamson
Walter C. Grist

William Houser


    I will begin working on the travel arrangements soon.  I want to tell you all, just meeting and speaking with all of you has made this project worthwhile.  We will take pictures and make videotapes for those who are not able to attend.



It's good to see four of our BOM vet members' names on the above list.  Walt, if you can get that thing running, maybe Clay or Jim can fly it out of there for us.  --RR






-- Book Review:  And I Was There, by Edwin Layton

-- Guadalcanal on "War Stories" Sunday





    And I Was There, by Admiral Nimitz' intelligence officer, Edwin Layton, has been a recommended volume on our web site for a long time, but I just finished reading it last week.  And for me, the book was a rather stunning revelation--no, several stunning revelations.

    With regard to Pearl Harbor, I knew that Admiral Kimmel and General Short had been made scapegoats for the surprise attack, and I knew that CDR Rochefort's genius at Hypo (Combat Intelligence Unit, Pearl Harbor) was not appreciated in Washington.  But I had no idea how much actual blame for the disaster rightly belonged to a few incompetent, self-serving members of the navy's top leadership in Washington.  Admiral Layton's book is a sobering report on "a war within a war, of admirals fighting admirals.  It is a tale of men in Washington vying for power and turf while disregarding the national interest."  (Quoted from the book's jacket.)

    Layton's revelations are a damning indictment against those in Washington who withheld critical intelligence from Kimmel and his staff--intelligence that clearly pointed to an attack on Hawaii in early December (i.e., the Japanese consulate in Honolulu receiving requests from Tokyo for the specific location of ships in the harbor--never reported to Kimmel).  And before the Pearl Harbor revisionists seize on that as proof of their conspiracy theories, it must be said that it was all due solely to internal feuding over who would have responsibility for intercept analysis--Rochefort or OP-20-G in Washington.  As the book jacket says, it was a silly turf struggle, and thousands needlessly died because of it.

    But Layton doesn't stop there.  He details our intelligence victory at Midway, but we learn that it was almost another Pearl Harbor.  Again, Washington didn't want anyone in Hawaii analyzing and predicting Japanese intentions, despite the fact that the Midway attack was launched almost to the minute that was predicted by Layton and Rochefort, but nearly two weeks in advance of the date chosen by OP-20-G.

    The book goes on to relate the intelligence debacles associated with General MacArthur, particularly his insistence upon invading the Philippines when Nimitz was convinced it was unnecessary.  MacArthur was the bombastic politician while Nimitz was the quiet pragmatist, and FDR was swayed by the politician.  Again, many thousands of Americans needlessly died for the sake of a senior officer's vanity. 

     And I Was There is 596 pages of meticulous detail supporting the author's basic premise that our communications intelligence victories in the Pacific, as dramatic as they were, fell far short of what they could have been.  But that aside, it's also a thorough treatment of our most significant CommInt breakthroughs, especially with regard to the BOM.

    The book was published in 1985, and it's readily available on Amazon and other outlets.  I found a used copy, in like-new condition, on Amazon for a deep discount.  --RR


*     *     *




    Oliver North's "War Stories" series on the Fox News Channel has scheduled their

Guadalcanal episode for today (Sunday, 8 August), at 8:00 PM EDT (5:00 PM Pacific).  I believe there is repeat at 1:00 AM EDT Monday.  (Thanks to Barrett Tillman for the tip.)

    I haven't seen this episode before, but the description on the FNC web site looks inviting.  In part, it says....

"On this compelling episode of War Stories with Oliver North, you will go inside Operation Watchtower as Admirals Chester Nimitz and Ernest King lock horns with General Douglas MacArthur about strategy in the Pacific."

That dovetails nicely with Edwin Layton's comments on MacArthur (see above), so I'll be watching this one with interest.  --RR



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