THE ROUNDTABLE FORUM

 

Official newsletter of the Battle of Midway Roundtable

 

http://www.midway42.org

 

"To preserve an awareness and understanding of the great battle and to honor the men who fought and won it."

 

7 November 2004....................Issue No. 2004-27....................Our 8th Year

 

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.............................................. AROUND THE TABLE ...............................................

 

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MEMBERS' TOPICS IN THIS ISSUE

 

1.  Kiska and Attu

2.  The Amphibious Invasion of Midway

3.  New Member:  Ken Hornby

4.  New Member:  Tom Carlson

5.  New Member:  Elliott Carlson

6.  New Member:  Tom Ballou

 

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"Kiska and Attu" 

 

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4 November 2004
From:  Jim Gillen   gingerca@northnet.org

    In "Miracle at Midway," Kiska is said to have a 10-man weather team, and Attu had 24 adult Aleuts plus 13 children with an American married couple.  What happen to them when the Japanese captured the islands?

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    Who has info on the disposition of the two islands' inhabitants at the time of the Japanese landings?

 

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"The Amphibious Invasion of Midway"   (see Stuart Kohn, issue 4-11; Clay Fisher and Jon Parshall, issue 4-12; Ed Fox, issue 4-13; John Gardner and Bill Vickrey, issue 4-16; Jon Parshall, issue 4-17; John Gardner, issue 4-18; Will O'Neil and James Bowen, issue 4-25; James Bowen and Jon Parshall, issue 4-26)

 

    Ed. note:  in the last issue, I had asked for comment on what effect unopposed Japanese air support might have had on the IJN's rather flawed plans for the invasion of the atoll.  Assuming that a fair number of Zeros, Kates, and Vals (along with one or more Japanese CVs) survived the carrier battle, would that assure success for the assault troops?  Jon Parshall supplies a well-reasoned response.  Short version:  the invaders still have a very bad day.

 

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31 October 2004

From:  Jon Parshall   jparshall@mn.rr.com

 

    The Japanese would have had the ability to launch several more strikes against Midway, assuming they had won on the 4th.  They probably would have been able to attack twice more on the 5th.  However, conjecture regarding their likely contribution to any scenario must be based on an assessment of how they performed on June 4th, and the answer is that they werenít all that effective.  Yes, they knocked out some barracks, fuel tanks, and the like, but their effect on the actual defenses of Midway was practically nil.  They knocked out no gun batteries.  They killed twelve defenders.  And thatís from a fully constituted strike of 108 aircraft that cost the Japanese eleven planes, lost twenty aviators, and left Hiryu and Soryuís level bomber groups in tatters.  Out of 36 aircraft in those squadrons, four had been shot down outright, four forced to ditch, nine more written off as losses after they landed, and every remaining strike aircraft damaged to some degree.  The Japanese lost just about the same number of planes as they killed enemy soldiers on the ground.

    That doesnít bode well for continuing operations against Midway.  First off, it says that Japanese accuracy on their bombing attacks wasnít very good.  Having seen the bomb damage reports from the attack, I can also say that their battle damage assessment was lousyómostly wishful thinking.  They also didnít have a very good feel for the exact location of American defensive installations.  At the same time, they readily acknowledged that American flak was intense and accurate.  That flak is still going to be there on the 5th and 6th, and the Japanese would have had to face increasing attrition as their air groups weakened.

    That brings up another point.  Even supposing the Japanese won the naval battle by sinking or driving off the American carriers, their air groups would have likely taken heavy losses in doing so, meaning that any further attacks on Midway would have been made by depleted air groups that had demonstrated, even at full strength, that they couldnít put Midway out of business. Would two or three strikes by these groups on the 5th have helped the Japanese cause when it came time to invade on the 6th?  Possibly, but in all likelihood, they would not have degraded the islandís defenses substantially, nor materially altered the balance of forces that would have been present when the invasion occurred.

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"New Member:  Ken Hornby"

 

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2 November 2004

From:  Ken Hornby      khornby@comcast.net

    

    I live in South St. Paul, Minnesota.  Ever since I was quite young, I've had an interest in military
history.  I started building plastic model airplanes and armor at eight years old, and I continue to do so today.  I've also collected a good-sized library.

    With some time on my hands after being "downsized" last year, I began to research one of the local heroes of the Battle of Midway, Capt. Richard E. Fleming.  He grew up in St. Paul and our municipal airport in South St. Paul is named in his honor.  Using the information I gathered, a local aviation history group I belong to put together a permanent display case at the airport combining photos, text, and plastic models of the relevant aircraft and ships involved in his story.

    I am interested in corresponding or perhaps interviewing any veteran who was stationed on Midway during the battle, but especially former members of VMSB-241.  I served in the U.S. Army in the late '80s in the 2d Armored Cavalry, patrolling the East German/Czech border areas.  I later served as an armor instructor with the Army Reserve and an intelligence analyst in the National Guard.
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"New Member:  Tom Carlson"

 

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31 October 2004

From:  Tom Carlson     bagley61@yahoo.com

   

    Thomas "Tom" Neal Carlson, in the middle of Minnesota.  HVAC technician for a major utility company; only two years away from retirement, and a lung cancer survivor.  Interests are flying, painting, computers, and reading.

    U.S. Army 1961-1964.  Served in a HAWK and NIKE missile brigade in Germany.  Minnesota Army Reserve/National Guard 1965-1966, communications sergeant.

    I've had a long interest in WWII, especially the Pacific theater and the air war, sparked by my cousin who was a Navy dive bomber pilot.  He was based on Guadalcanal in his first tour, flying an SBD Dauntless.  On his second tour he flew SB2C Helldivers with VB-19 off the second Lexington.  He ended his tour early, injured when a Kamikaze hit Lexington off the Philippines.
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"New Member:  Elliott Carlson"

 

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5 November 2004
From:  Elliott Carlson   ecarlson3849@comcast.net

 

    I'm submitting this note in the hope I can join the BOMRT.  My reason for wanting to join has to do with my interest in Capt. Joe Rochefort, who as you know commanded Station Hypo at Pearl Harbor during 1941-42. And who, along with his Hypo colleagues, played a crucial role in breaking the Japanese code in the weeks leading up to the Battle of Midway.

    Earlier this year I started gathering material for what I hope will be the first biography of Rochefort.  I have been interviewing historians and spending time at various research sites, including NARAII, the operational archives, the Ft. Meade crypotologic museum library, the Naval War College, and the Nimitz museum library in Fredericksburg, Texas, among others.  I've also joined the NCVA as an associate member and attended their reunion in September.
    I first learned of the BOMRT during the summer when I met Bill Price at the Arlington apartment of Mac Showers, who has been serving as a kind of guide to me (as well as an information source) as I do my research.  It sounded interesting but I didn't pursue it.  More recently I chatted with Cal Cavalcante at the Navy's operational archives and he strongly urged me to get in touch with you. And now that I've had a chance to look at your website, there's no question that the BOMRT would be an invaluable resource for me.

    My own background is journalism. I retired early this year after some 45 years as a newspaper and magazine reporter, writer and editor.  I retired in January after serving 17 years as the Editor of the AARP Bulletin, based in Washington.  Earlier in my career in worked for the Honolulu Advertiser, Wall Street Journal and Newsweek. I live in Silver Spring, MD.

    In addition to joining your Roundtable, I would like to obtain BOMRT disks that cover previous roundtable discussions.  Such background would be indispensable as I try to reconstruct Rochefort's (and Hypo's) role in the Midway battle.  Please let me know if there is any additional information I can provide.  I look forward to hearing from you.  Many thanks.

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"New Member:  Tom Ballou"

 

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3 November 2004

From:  Tom Ballou     tbballou@sherwinalumina.com 

   

    Thanks for the invitation.  I'd like to try your group out, at least for a while.  I belong to a couple of groups and some are good, some are not as good.

    In civilian life, I'm an attorney.  I work for the Sherwin Alumina Company near Corpus Christi, TX.  I'm actually the Environmental Superintendent, but I get to practice a little law.  The environmental work is actually more fun.  I'm also the public affairs officer for the company and do other odd jobs.

    I like sports cars and tinkering with them.  I own a '66 Sunbeam Tiger which I bought new and have recently finished restoring to at least new condition.

    I'm a retired captain in the Naval Reserve.  I spent 4 years on active duty flying helicopters during the Viet Nam War.  I stayed with it after the war and had an interesting naval career.  I spent my last 8 years as ACOS on the 7th Flt staff.

    My father was a WWII veteran and career Navy man.  He enlisted in 1940, but was an Atlantic fleet sailor in 1942.  He retired in 1970 as a LCDR, just as I was completing flight training.  Together we shared a 59 year naval career.  He spent his WWII time on Ranger (CV-4) with VF-11, Lexington (CV-16),  Gambier Bay, and on Langley (CVL-27) with VT-33.

    I guess the Battle of Midway has always captivated me.  It's the classic story of the fog of war and an inferior force seizing victory from the jaws of defeat (fortunately).  It's also a story of amazing courage and sacrifice.  All of us owe something to those brave men who won the day.

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    A hearty "welcome aboard" to Ken, Tom, Elliott, and Tom.  And with regard to CAPT Ballou, has anyone been keeping track of how many attorneys we have on our roster?  There must be a dozen or more of you guys out there....on two continents, yet.

 

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................................................. NOW HEAR THIS! ..................................................

 

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NEWS & INFO IN THIS ISSUE

 

-- "FX" Cotton:  Final Sortie

-- "Shattered Sword"

-- Bogus BOM Vet?

-- Frank DeLorenzo

 

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"FX" COTTON:  FINAL SORTIE

 

    When deep regret, we announce the passing on November 4th of another Midway veteran and long-time member of our roster, LT Francis Xavier Cotton, USN-Ret, known among his friends as "FX."  He was a 28-year Navy veteran who had the distinction of being an aircrewman in Torpedo Squadron 8, but the good fortune not to be assigned to fly with the squadron on the morning of 4 June 1942 (he was the bombardier on level bombing missions; not required when the TBD flew torpedo strikes).

    FX also had the distinction, if that's the word, of making VT-8's first torpedo run, and it was entirely unintentional!  He related the darkly humorous story for us a couple years ago, and you can find it on our web site on the "BOMRT Veterans Stories" page.

    His brother Bernie says that death may have resulted from complications of major surgery that FX had last Monday (arterial bypass in one of his legs)--there apparently was some clotting that got into his lungs.  He was 82.

    A funeral mass will be conducted at St. Stevens Church in Sun Lakes, AZ at 10:00 AM on Wednesday, November 10th.  He will be interred in a nearby military cemetery.  Condolences may be sent to Bernie at:

 

    Bernie Cotton

    2414 Bent Pine Ct.

    Spring Hill, FL  34606

 

 

 

We have a couple of good "then and now" photos of the Cotton brothers on the "Members Photo Gallery" pages of our web site.  Click the link on our home page, or here's the direct URL:

 

http://www.midway42.org/gallery1.html

 

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"SHATTERED SWORD"

 

    Jon Parshall advises that his exhaustive study of the IJN at Midway has finally been submitted to the publisher.  The tentative title is Shattered Sword:  the Battle of Midway and the Imperial Japanese Navy.  

    As we frequently find when looking into the details of the BOM, a few of the commonly-held beliefs about the battle will get shattered in Shattered Sword, and thus I think many of us will await it with high interest.  Jon has previously given us a preview of some of that, in connection with various discussions on the Roundtable about the Japanese carriers and the damage they sustained during the VB attacks.  For example, you can forget those fanciful images of Japanese flight decks crammed with burning and exploding strike aircraft--Jon provides ample proof that the IJN flight decks had to be mostly empty when the SBDs struck.

    Shattered Sword is expected to be available late in 2005.  Jon says plan on a rather large book--his draft manuscript ran over a 1000 double-spaced pages.

    For more, see Jon's web site (linked on our home page):  http://www.combinedfleet.com

 

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BOGUS BOM VET?

 

    Harold Towne has brought our attention to a web site containing a veteran biography of one Thomas J. Vernor, said to be an aircrew veteran of VT-3 at Coral Sea and Midway.  The site is rather impressive, showing photos of Mr. Vernor being honored for his service by President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell.  Here's the URL:

 

http://www.17thartilleryregiment.org/VernorBio.htm

 

The bio also stated that Vernor was the gunner for VT-3 pilot Wilhelm Esders.  That attracted my interest, since VT-3 was not present at Coral Sea, and Esder's R/G at Midway was Robert Brazier, who was killed in action.

    I've sent the webmaster of the above site an e-mail pointing out the above discrepancies and suggesting that the posted information is, at best, mistaken.  I'll pass along any response that comes in.  --RR 

 

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FRANK DELORENZO   (see Now Hear This, issues 14, 21, 24)

 

    Bill Vickrey advises that DeLo is still motel-bound in Florida, awaiting restoration of his hurricane-ravished home.  Prospects are still unknown.  He's off-line in the interim, but he'd enjoy hearing from members via snail-mail at:

   

Captain Frank DeLorenzo, USN-Ret

34 Star Lake Drive

Pensacola, FL 32507

 

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    For a glossary of abbreviations, acronyms, and terms used in The Roundtable Forum, click the following URL or go to our home page and click "The Roundtable Glossary" link.

 

    http://www.midway42.org/glossary.htm

 

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