The Roundtable Forum

Official Newsletter of the Battle of Midway Roundtable


10 June 2011

Issue Number:  2011-14

Our 14th Year






This issue of The Roundtable Forum is devoted to the memory of our friend and long-time Roundtable member, Captain Frank Lewis “DeLo” DeLorenzo, U.S. Navy Retired.  DeLo left on his final sortie on Friday, 27 May 2011, at the age of 96.



In the Beginning


DeLo was born in August 1914.  If you need a little perspective on how long ago that was, it was the first month of World War 1 in Europe.  That made him the Roundtable’s senior member (in terms of sunrises logged), just a little ahead of Dusty Kleiss.  He was a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin , and earned his JD (law) degree at Marquette University in 1939.



Naval Career


DeLo entered the Navy shortly after college, and was appointed to flight training at Pensacola.  Posted to patrol bombers, he initially flew PBYs, then the four-engine PB2Y Coronado, including his well-known assignment in December 1941 to transport Admiral Nimitz to Pearl Harbor as the new CINCPAC.  That story is covered in detail in Chapter 2 of No Right to Win and on various web sites.  He also had a brief experience with the Flying Tigers—see Bill Vickrey’s message below.


DeLo flew extensive patrol missions throughout the war, plus a number of bombing strikes against Japanese installations on Wake Island and in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands.  At the war’s end, he had been awarded the Air Medal with four gold stars.  After the war he continued an active career in Naval Aviation, serving in a variety of training and operational commands through the Korean and Vietnam wars.  He retired in 1970 as a captain after 31 years of service, with a host of awards and over 6000 hours of flying time.  He made his home in retirement at Pensacola.


Much of the foregoing comes from his detailed on-line obituary, which you can read here.



The Roundtable


DeLo was an active member and supporter of the Roundtable through most of its existence, being among the first to come aboard when Bill Price’s e-mail circular went public in 1997.  While not a BOM veteran as we usually define it, it was an easy choice for him due to his strong associations among Naval Air retirees, including a few veterans of the battle.  Looking back in our e-mail archives, I note that he was the first to encourage me to take over the Roundtable in October 2002 when Bill Price had to pass the con to someone.  Thereafter, we heard from DeLo regularly, in good times and bad, like the many months he spent in cramped quarters through much of 2005, waiting for his home to be rebuilt after being flooded by Hurricane Ivan.  (While he was waiting for that, he had to take cover again when Hurricane Katrina roared past.)


DeLo’s last message to us came in July of last year, in which he expressed gratitude for the notation about his upcoming 96th birthday in The Roundtable Forum.  At that time he proudly said that he still drives his car, rides a bike every day, and manages to stay out of bars.  Instead, he said, he spends way too much time on the computer.  We can be thankful that he did.



Comments from Members



From:  Ronald W. Graetz


BOM Vet, radioman-gunner, VT-6, USS Enterprise (CV-6)


I didn't know DeLo, but I heard his name a lot; always well spoken of.  My hat is off Frank,  and my heart goes out to the family.  This old world just lost another GREAT One!



From:  SFC Edgar R. Fox, USA-Ret


BOM vet, Pvt., 6th MarDefBn, Midway


I and my students are going to miss Captain DeLo.  In the years past when I had a question put to me by a student that I could not answer, we would ask the Captain.  He would come back with an answer that would satisfy the class.  DeLo never failed to surprise me with a memento to be offered to the class, such as a model kit of an SBD or TBF.  Of my 8th grade students who have gone on to higher and greater achievements, I am sure they are better informed of the Navy and its ships.


Thank you "Captain DeLo."  We may call on you again.



From:  John Greaves



My friend Owen Miller, who is close to Pensacola and the National Naval Aviation Museum, had the following to say on an internet warbird forum.  With his permission, I'd like to include this in the comments [about DeLo]:


"As you may know CAPT DeLorenzo volunteered in restoration at NNAM for many years.  Recently he had been in hospice care.  Thursday (May 26th), NNAM held a brief dedication ceremony for the Coronado.  Frank was there in a suit and tie and in a wheelchair.  His family was there, everybody shook his hand, the gals hugged him, and he was just beaming.  They got him back to hospice, got him settled into bed, as he was worn out from the days events—and he never woke up; died the next morning.  He was waiting for that plane.


“The ceremony was recorded. Hopefully it will wind up on the internet, perhaps on NNAM's Facebook page."


In his honor, DeLo's name is painted under the pilot's window on the Coronado that is under restoration at the NNAM.


One of the first paintings I did after joining the Roundtable in the late 1990s was DeLo delivering Nimitz to Pearl Harbor.  He was a great and enthusiastic help when I asked him about the details and the Coronado markings, and when I gave him the original he promptly donated the painting to the NNAM.  His endorsement of my artwork meant the world to me.  I remember with great fondness how any discussions we had soon turned to golf!  He didn't think he was a hero at all, but like all the other veterans he is to me.  Blue skies, DeLo.


[ Ed. note:  to see John’s painting of DeLo’s Coronado on the Nimitz flight, click here. ]



From Elliot Carlson


author, Joe Rochefort’s War


I had a great conversation with Captain DeLorenzo on 20 May 2008 at his home in Pensacola.  He welcomed me into his family’s home early in the afternoon and spent the next couple of hours telling me about his adventure on 24-25 December 1941, when he and four other pilots (the Navy wasn’t taking any chances) transported Admiral Nimitz to Pearl Harbor.  By now much of DeLo’s story is well known: the trouble the big plane had getting off the water in December weather, the courtesy shown the pilots by Nimitz who required them to forsake their Christmas holiday, the appalling sight at Pearl Harbor when they landed.


But what stands out in my mind from our chat was how gently the captain corrected me when I, like many others, misidentified his plane as a PBY Catalina (see Potter, Nimitz).  It was no such thing; it was a big brother of the Catalina, a four-engine PB2Y-2 Coronado. Whenever I point this out to people, I always think of DeLo.



From:  Bill Vickrey

North Carolina


I have known Delo for well over twenty-five years and have a correspondence file which must weigh five pounds. We exchanged a lot of snail mail correspondence early on and I kept it all.  Here are a few points of interest.  He was a native of Wisconsin and a graduate of Marquette Law School, in 1939.  He joined the Navy in that same year and was in Class 130-C at Pensacola.  Admiral A. C. Read pinned his “wings of gold”  on him in June 1940.  He then joined VP-12 based at North Island in San Diego.


Around August 1941 he resigned from the Navy to join the AVG [Flying Tigers].  After a few days he was released from the AVG and the skipper of VP-12 refused to take him back with these comments: “DeLorenzo, I wouldn’t have you back in my squadron if you were the best damn pilot in the Navy which, incidentally, you are not.”


He then joined VP-13 flying the PB2Y Coronado.  His most famous mission in that squadron was flying Admiral Nimitz to Pearl on December 24-25, 1941 to take over as CINCPAC.  In March 1943 he joined VP-102 still flying the PB2Y.  His best memory during this time was making three bombing runs on Wake while flying from Midway.


He had many choice billets in his years in the Navy.  He had a tour as XO of Kearsage (CV-33) then was CO of Kennebec (AO-36).  Perhaps his plumb assignment was as CO of the NAS at Corpus Christi, where he was relieved by Joe Auman who was Clay Fisher’s shipmate in VB-8 at Midway.


My wife and I were very close to DeLo and Helen and spent some great times with them.  He was a real hustler on the golf course and managed to “pick my pocket” every time we played.




            In Remembrance


Although DeLo didn’t participate in the BOM, I’m sure that no one would deny him at least honorary status among our deceased BOM vet members whom we’ve memorialized on our Midway Veterans Roster.  In fact, he was more of a Midway combat vet than some of the pretenders who we’ve seen claim that status in recent years, since he was present on the atoll when it was shelled by a Japanese submarine in February 1942 (see No Right to Win, p. 11).  To that we can add his bombing missions from Midway as noted above.  With the utmost of admiration, then, I’ve added him to that honored role.


If anyone would like to contribute further memories of DeLo , like those above, your messages are still welcome and will appear in the next issue.


Farewell and following seas to a truly outstanding U.S. Naval officer, friend, family patriarch, and solid supporter of the Battle of Midway Roundtable.  He will be sorely missed but always remembered.     —RR







~  Speaking of senior members on the Roundtable, happy birthday to our other senior member (in terms of rank), General Earl Anderson, who turns 92 this month.  He was a captain in the Marine detachment on the Yorktown.


~  To everyone who attended any of the BOM 69th anniversary events last week, please send in any photos you can share (or cite a web page where they might be viewed) plus a description of the proceedings.  So far I’m holding a report only from Mac Showers regarding the event at the NIOS (ex-Naval Security Group) at Ft. Meade, MD, plus some photos from the Naval Order banquet in San Francisco.


~  I was gratified to note that there were a great many BOM commemoration events this year, among military bases large and small as well as by civilian support organizations in cities large and small.  In the past I attempted to comment on and list all of them in The Roundtable Forum, but there were too many this year.  That’s very good news.