Official newsletter of the Battle of Midway Roundtable


“To promote awareness and understanding of the great battle,

and to honor the men who fought and won it.”


19 OCTOBER 2007..........ISSUE NO. 2007-39..........OUR 10th YEAR



=============== AROUND THE TABLE ===============


Members’ topics in this issue:


1.  22nd & 23rd Marine Provisional Companies on Midway

2.  A Short History of the USS Hornet

3.  Help Wanted with “Band of Brothers in the Pacific”



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1.  22nd & 23rd MARINE PROVISIONAL COMPANIES ON MIDWAY   (see issue #38)



11 Oct 2007

SFC Edgar R. Fox, USA-Ret


(BOM vet, PVT, 23rd Prov. Co., 6th MarDefBn, Midway)


The provisional companies came from the 2nd Marine Division located at Camp Pendleton, California.  I was a member of the 10th Marine Regiment at that time.  While en route from CONUS to Midway, we got our classified designation—we were titled the 22d and 23rd Provisional Companies.  Upon our arrival on Midway, we were absorbed for record keeping and administration into the 6th Marine Defense Battalion.


I do remember very well our arrival that day, especially when the submarine began shelling the island.  This was the first time I experienced “company double time—follow me!”  We had our weapons and our 782 gear, and we were shouldering our sea bags. “They are shelling the dock, get off the dock!”  What a sight.  When the man in front of you stumbled and fell, it became like a Chinese Fire Drill.  What an impression we must have made!



Editor’s note:  I had to ask Ed to explain “782 gear.”  It’s the equipment and paraphernalia that a Marine wears into battle on his belt, backpack, etc.



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2.  A SHORT HISTORY OF THE USS HORNET   (see issue #38)



13 Oct 2007

FTC Bernard C. Cotton, USN-Ret


(BOM vet, FC1/c, USS Hornet)


I'd like to add my two cents to Fred Banyan's short history of the Hornet.  The deck crewman that had his arm amputated by the last B-25 was not blown into the prop by prop blast, but due to the wet deck.  He slipped while pulling on a line attached to the plane’s landing gear and he put his arm out to protect himself.  One of his shipmates took off his own yellow shirt and stuffed it into the wound to staunch the bleeding.


In theory, the Kamikaze force was not activated until later in the war.  I was tracking that dive bomber (“Kamikaze”) with the forward Mk 37 director and I believe that pilot was dead due to considerable damage to the plane.  The Kate that hit at the portside #1 elevator was apparently hit by the number one 1.1-inch machine gun.




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13 Oct 2007

Hugh Ambrose


(staff, National WWII Museum, New Orleans)


From time to time I've noticed that some of the men who make extremely accurate models of planes exhibit their work on the BOMRT website.  I wondered if you could put me in touch with someone whom you regard as a leading expert on paint schemes, roundels, etc. for U.S. planes during the Pacific War.  As you know, the miniseries project I am helping with will represent most of the phases of the war.  I'd really like to be able to run a few questions by someone who spends their time thinking about these issues, so that we get the details correct.  I value your opinion and hope to get your insight.



Ed. note:  I’ve already suggested some possible contacts to Hugh, but I’m sure there are many others on our roster who can help with this worthy project.  If you have some experience or knowledge with the things he’s asking about—as a veteran, a scale modeler, or otherwise—please  contact him directly (e-mail address above).



=============== NOW HEAR THIS! ===============


News & info in this issue:


-  Last Sortie for Gale Burkey

-  Important Message to All Veterans on the Roundtable

-  Forum Notes



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With deep regret, I announce the passing on October 6th of BOM vet and long-time Roundtable member Gale C. Burkey, Commander, USN-Retired.  He was 89 years old.


Gale joined the Navy in 1935 and served a 30-years career, which included important contributions to both the BOM and the Battle of the Eastern Solomons two months later.  Initially trained as a radioman, he became an enlisted pilot in 1940 and was commissioned as an ensign in March 1942 while flying PBYs with VP-23.


His BOM service is especially noteworthy for his rescue in heavy seas of a downed VB-8 aircrew, ENS Troy Guillory and ARM2/c Billy Cottrel.  Guillory’s son Troy Jr. and Cottrel’s nephew Bill Geissler are current members of the Roundtable.  In the Eastern Solomons battle, Burkey’s sighting report of the IJN light carrier Ryujo ultimately led to its sinking.  During the battle, Gale’s skillful airmanship saved his vulnerable Catalina from attacks by four Zeros, which garnered him a Distinguished Flying Cross.  For more on his life and career, please see his obituary in the San Diego Union-Tribune at this URL:


Gale provided the following insight to the Guillory/Cottrel rescue in this 2003 message to the Roundtable, in which he’s replying to an inquiry from Geissler:



Dear Bill,

You asked for any recollections of your Uncle Billy's Midway rescue.  I think the most unforgettable event (at least in his memory) was a bottle of Scotch we were able to present to him and Ensign Guillory subsequent to their rescue.  It happened to be one that we had spirited
away with our in-flight gear as we departed Midway that morning to keep it from falling into the hands of the enemy.

At the time of sighting their raft, it was probably about 1600.  We had been out from Midway since dawn.  I don't recall who in the crew first sighted them, but at that time we were certainly looking for a target such as theirs.  The first thing we did was to mark their position with float lights.

Ensign Lough, the PPC [patrol plane commander], assessed the sea conditions as too rough to make a safe landing, and elected to call in a surface vessel for the rescue.  As his copilot but with much more seaplane experience than he, I protested his decision and requested that he relinquish command to me.  To this he readily agreed so we changed seats.  I landed very near
them, taxied alongside their raft, hauled them aboard and took off uneventfully.  I retained command and we returned the very happy pair to Midway.


I got a good photo of Gale during my November 2005 visit to the USS Midway in San Diego, which you can find on our website—from the home page, click the “Veterans Photo Gallery” link under the VT picture, then click “Gallery Page 4” at the top of the page that opens.  Also, I’ve posted his name in the Remembrance section of our website—see the “BOMRT Vets List” page.


Fair winds and following seas to an honored veteran, a distinguished naval aviator, and a good friend of the Roundtable.



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The reason I learned of Gale Burkey’s passing is because his daughter communicated with me in response to a prior arrangement made with her by Gale.  He’d given her my contact information to be used in the event that he ever had to leave the Roundtable for any reason.


Gale had reacted to a short article I’ve run in the Forum around Memorial Day in past years.  Its purpose is to help ensure that none of our Greatest Generation vets ever disappears from our midst for unknown reasons.  I failed to run that Memorial Day article this year, so I’m thankful that Gale and his daughter had taken one of its earlier appearances to heart.  The same is true in the case of the recent passing of Dick Woodson (see issue #36).


Here then, belatedly, is the article.  For you vets and others who have already taken these steps, you now know why it’s important.  For anyone else, please consider following Gale and Dick’s example.



“On this Memorial Day weekend, we are regretfully reminded that our most senior members will not be with us indefinitely.  Additionally, some of our elder members occasionally leave the Roundtable on a temporary basis for nursing home care or for similar reasons.  In either case, it is a deeply saddening experience if one of our veteran members departs, temporarily or otherwise, and we have no information as to when or why.


“One of our fundamental goals here is to honor our BOM and other WWII veterans, and that becomes especially desirable when one leaves for his final muster.  To that end, it is important that each of our senior veterans makes arrangements with a family member or other person to contact me in the event he should become incapacitated for any reason.  That has occurred with several of our BOM vets who have either permanently or temporarily left the Roundtable in recent years—a son or daughter passed the word in each case and we were able to get an appropriate announcement in the Roundtable Forum and on our web site.


“So, this is my annual request to each member, especially our Greatest Generation vets, to make sure someone in your household or family knows how to contact me in the event you can no longer participate on the Roundtable for any reason.  Show him/her how to send e-mail to me, or pass along my phone number and postal address (at the end of each issue of the Forum).


“One of my favorite quotes is ‘no one is truly gone until he is forgotten.’  With a little help from you and someone in your family, we'll do what we can on the Roundtable to make sure you're never truly gone.”




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~  Thanks to Bill Vickrey for assisting with info about Gale Burkey.  Once again, Bill’s vast storehouse of BOM archives helped me a great deal in preparing an important article for the Forum.


~  A sad example of the situation we face when a veteran leaves us with no notification from his family is the case of Yorktown vet David Lane, who’d been a radioman-gunner with VT-3.  He’d participated on the Roundtable until 2003, after which nothing more was ever heard from him or about him.  I reluctantly removed his name from our roster when his e-mail address began to reject.



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(If you cannot access the above web site, send a message to the editor for full details on No Right to Win.)



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