The Roundtable Forum

Official Newsletter of the Battle of Midway Roundtable


19 November 2010

Issue Number:  2010-37

Our 14th Year








1.  Altitude of Howard Ady’s PBY on 4 June 1942

2.  Reflections on 13 Years

3.  The Midway Library

4.  Salute to Midway Vets



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20 October 2010

From:  Konley Kelley



What altitude was Lt. Ady flying when he spotted the Japanese task force?



Ed. note:  Konley is the architect and artist of some very detailed BOM dioramas and graphics that have been featured on the Roundtable in prior years.  Click here for an example.  If you can address his question about Ady’s PBY, please contact him directly as shown in your new issue announcement.



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2.  REFLECTIONS ON 13 YEARS   ( See issues #35, 36 )



12 November 2010

From:  Scott Kair



I’d agree heartily on being grateful for your stewardship of the Roundtable.  It’s hard to imagine a single more useful and useable resource for historians of the Pacific War.


Among the accomplishments of the Roundtable is that appreciation of the consequences of the BOM has increased far beyond what was grasped 14 years ago.  The battle was then understood to be a turning point, but that understanding was based more on the tactical destruction of the majority of Japan’s carrier strike force—of the blunting of the tip of their spear.  We are now well aware of what winning the battle enabled; first and foremost it enabled changing America’s geo-strategic priority from defending our west coast to beginning to execute the “Hitler first” goal.


The final cancellation of the Montana class battleships and the redirection of industrial resources towards expanding and accelerating the production of the Essex-class fast carriers, as well as the adaptation of planned cruiser hulls to escort carriers is another consequence of the victory.  


Such a list could go on, but the point is that the exchange of ideas on the Roundtable inspires compiling such a list.




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3.  THE MIDWAY LIBRARY   ( See issue #36 )



12 November 2010

From:  Jeffrey O. Crosby

New Jersey


Wow, what a beautiful picture of the Aylwin.   Also, I did not realize how many books concerning the BOM were on the "list" [The Roundtable’s Midway Library page].  And to think that back in high school (1971-1975) that I had only read Incredible Victory.   That was my first introduction to naval operations in the Pacific.


Thanks much for your constant work on this site.




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12 November 2010

From:  James F. Leffler, Jr.



I wanted to send a “thank you” to Midway vets and all World War II veterans.  I am always very pleased when I spot one while I am out, usually thanks to the ball caps they wear.  I try to stop them, shake their hand, and thank them; usually telling them about programs like Honor Flight.


I am 41, but I have been an admirer of “The Greatest Generation” since childhood, and have studied many of the battles as well as the home front aspects since then.  I have a deep respect and admiration for all of the men and women who fought and suffered so much during those times.  I sincerely hope they never feel like they have been forgotten by my or any other generation.


I try my hardest to keep their memories alive.  I wish I could thank them all, and I hope that they will accept my gratitude and my thanks for all that they did and continue to do. Thank you for including me in the BOMRT, which gives me another way to express my gratitude.










-  Remembering Dick Epps

-  Remembering Sam Laser

-  Link of the Week

-  Editor’s Notes



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Roundtable member and BOM veteran Richard C. Epps, CDR, USNR-Retired, passed away on November 4th at the age of 88.  Dick joined the Roundtable in 2006 and brought us a new perspective as a veteran of one of the TF-16 screening destroyers in the BOM, USS Aylwin (DD-355).  He was a radioman and radar operator on the ship, and in later life wrote a very good book about his wartime service, Life On a Tin Can.


Dick’s experiences before and during the BOM are highlighted in detail on our website’s Veterans Stories pages, which you are encouraged to read now: click here.  It’s particularly fascinating that, through some administrative failings, he was still a Seaman 3/c (recruit level) just before the BOM, although by then he was a trained radio and radar operator and a somewhat seasoned sailor.  But Dick was immediately promoted three levels to RM3/c by the ship’s C.O. when he fixed the Aylwin’s fathometer just as it was trying to enter Pearl Harbor upon returning from the Coral Sea.


He stayed in the reserve after the war, was activated again for Korea, and continued as a participating reservist until his retirement as a commander.  His resourcefulness led to a distinguished career in electrical and nuclear engineering with the national radiation laboratory at Livermore, California.  In his later years, he was an enthusiastic participant in the annual BOM commemorations in San Francisco.  He was a personal friend of mine and will be sorely missed.   For more about this exceptional Midway veteran, please see his published obituary here.    RR



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Roundtable member and BOM veteran LT Sam Laser, USNR-Retired, passed away on October 20th at the age of 90.  Sam had been a member of the Roundtable since its earliest days.  He was a USS Yorktown veteran, to which he had the rare distinction of being assigned in 1941 with no training whatsoever, not even boot camp.  That odd circumstance was due to the Navy’s “special rating program,” which took in new sailors with advanced rank if they came aboard with certain previously learned skills.  Sam’s qualification for the program: he could type!  Thus Sam boarded the Yorktown as a Yeoman 2/c without knowing hardly anything about Navy protocols, procedures, or how to basically get along in the service.  It was a rough go at first, but Sam ultimately came to believe that “learning on the job” was the best way to do it.


On the Yorktown, Sam was assigned to the 6th Division, Gunnery Department.  That got him a unique battle station on CV-5, in “Sky Control” high atop the superstructure, where he had a terrifying ringside view of the battles in the Coral Sea and at Midway.  After the BOM he was assigned to CASU 6 at Alameda where he made Yeoman 1/c.  Shortly thereafter the Navy promoted him to ensign directly from enlisted service, again with no officer indoctrination of any kind.  He left the Navy after the war, but returned to the reserve as a JAG officer after completing law school.


Our website’s Veteran Stories pages have a much more detailed account of Sam’s wartime experience on the Yorktown, and I urge you to read it now.


Sam became a highly successful attorney in Little Rock, Arkansas, and worked with great distinction in his own firm until virtually his final day.  He was an enthusiastic member of the Yorktown CV-5 veterans association, and hosted their most recent annual reunion in Little Rock.  His firm’s web site has a more detailed professional biography, which you can review here.


A fond farewell and following seas to two fine BOM vets and friends of the Roundtable.  I’ve added their names to the Remembrance section of our Midway Roundtable Veterans roster.      RR



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Here are good photos of Dick Epps and Sam Laser, from our website archives:


Click here for the link of the week.    (Dick Epps)


Click here for the link of the week.    (Sam Laser)



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~  Scott Sabol in New Jersey advises that Dallas W. Isom passed away on October 3rd.  As mentioned in the last issue, he was the author of a particularly important BOM book, Midway Inquest, that brought new insight to a couple of the battle’s key elements, including an entirely new, revisionist analysis of the vital flight of the Tone number 4 search plane.  The book is reviewed in depth in issue 2007-40, 26 October 2007 (copies upon request, or see the Amazon review).


~  For those who knew Sam Laser well, there may be some question at my note above that he retired from the Naval Reserve as a JAG lieutenant, while he’s shown elsewhere as a lieutenant commander.  As Sam explained it to me a few years ago, “some records show it one way and some show it another, and at this point I don’t particularly care.”  In any case, lieutenant seems to be more accurate from the various records that Sam has sent me.  We’ve seen a number of instances where WW2 veterans, upon retirement, received brevet promotions that were never formalized.