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         PETER C SMITH

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PETER C SMITH

     2:  FLIGHT TO NOWHERE OR FLIGHT OF  FANCY?

 Accusations without proof-Strange ways to write History.

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Commander Stanhope Ring in 1942. (US Navy)

Commander Walter Rodee in 1943 (Tom Lea)

 

 Flight to Nowhere or Flight of Fantasy?

 

Thoughts on Ring’s course from Hornet on the morning of 4th June 1942.

 

Commander Stanhope Ring, the leader of the Hornet’s first strike force on the morning of 4th June 1942, has been much criticised for adopting a course for that force that the leader of his Torpedo Bomber Group disagreed with, and which failed to find the Japanese Carrier Task Force.

 

There are numerous theories and speculated scenarios as to what course Ring led his aircraft on and much debate in books written to prove such-and-such a viewpoint. A whole mythos has grown up involving, inevitably it would seem in this day-and-age, a conspiracy theory that an elaborate “fix” was subsequently conjured up by everyone in the Mitscher circle from the pending-Admiral himself downward, in order to cover up a mistake on the initial attack routing. Just how every officer in the Hornet and her accompanying warships was made privy to, and willingly embraced, this mass deception (except perhaps Hornet’s radar officer and a few aviators who take a different line) without being found out is not made clear, but then again, conspiracy theories tend to feed on themselves.

 

At College Park I examined the large map prepared in the immediate aftermath of the battle, which forms the basis of this "conspiracy" theory because it is incomplete in some details. [f/n 148]. But this early composite map was not the last or the final map prepared by the US Navy of this battle, merely the one that everyone so far seems to assume it was and have made their claims accordingly. Maybe they should have looked a little harder before rushing to pronounce judgment.

 

Bombing Squadron Eight’s Action Report [f/n 149] stated that they launched, “… nineteen airplanes in company with Scouting Eight and ten airplanes of Fighting Eight to attack a Japanese force of carriers, battleships, cruisers, and destroyers reported in Lat. 30-35 (N) Long. 178-35 (W).” Note the word used was "attack", not search, and the force to be attacked was specified. Their report did not say, or in any way use, the words search for a possible extra pair of carriers, position unknown! The report of VB-8 continued by stating that- “No contact was made in the vicinity of the reported position and the group turned south towards Midway to locate the enemy.” [f/n 150] That seems clear enough- they were looking for the Nagumo Force in the position that had been reported, not some nebulous, possible further enemy carriers.

 

Mitscher’s actual report read [f/n 151]: -

 

“None of Scouting 8 or Bombing 8 made contact with the enemy on the above flight. After searching the prescribed bearing the Squadrons turned south to search in the direction of enemy advance. As it turned out, had they turned north, contact would probably have been made. This was due to the fact that when planes took off, they took course to intercept the enemy, at that time reported headed on course 140° T., speed 25 knots. About one hour after the planes had departed the enemy reversed his course and started his retirement. We did not break radio silence to report this to the planes.”

 

Ring himself wrote an account three years after the event, which did not come to light until many years later. Although he did not include in that account an exact course, he did give a very precise description of where he ended up at the end of his outward leg, which was that he ended up where he had considered the enemy would be had it have continued on its reported course toward Midway in order to recover its own aircraft.

 

Never mind that the position of the enemy as reported to Ring was inaccurate [f/n 152]; at the time it was all he had to go on and, unlike the Yorktown strike, which was delayed, it was not updated after he took his departure. The British Admiralty, in their careful and detailed analysis of the battle, stated that “Once battle was joined, however, there was a failure to maintain continuous contact with the enemy…”  They concluded that “The delay of the Enterprise’s air group attack against the enemy carriers and the failure of the Hornet’s scout bombers to make contact with the enemy can be attributed to this lack of information. Further, the loss of aircraft from the Hornet and Enterprise by water landings from lack of fuel can be partly attributed to the same cause.” [f/n 153]

 

British Intelligence experts criticised this in an IMPORTANT summary addressed personally to the First Sea Lord. They acknowledged that “U.S. Intelligence was brilliant and enabled Task Forces to be operated with great tactical advantages at outset of battle.” However, “Delays were experienced due to C. in C. Pacific Fleet signaling appreciations to Task Force Admirals in high grade ciphers not held by ‘private’ carriers.” [i.e. Hornet]. Also, “Task Forces did not maintain continuous watch on all shore based reconnaissance frequencies. Enemy reports rebroadcast from shore station(s) were received in some cases more than 2 hours after original report.” [154]

 

What did Ring actually say? In his own words he stated, very clearly: - “Upon arrival at the line between the last reported position of the enemy and Midway Island...”

 

Now, the last reported position of the enemy was that they were on a bearing of 320 degrees from the US fleet and 180 miles out from Midway proceeding at 25 knots on course of 140 degrees. [f/n 155]

 

The location of Midway Island from the Hornet at the time of launch was at ‘M’ on the first accompanying sketch map below.

 

And Ring assumed that the enemy would continue on their course toward the island to recover their aircraft strike force and so that it where he would have headed.

 

I find it difficult to conceive of dyed-in-the-wool 'Brown Shoe' men like Mitscher and Ring, being given the target they most wanted after years of waiting; and believing moreover, as they did, in the importance in getting in the hardest blow as fast as possible, would have diverted their whole force AWAY from the most probably position of the enemy carriers, merely in the nebulous possibility that they MIGHT, maybe, stumble across two more (unreported) carriers. It just does not make sense from any viewpoint to risk sacrificing sinking the KNOWN enemy for the chance of finding one that might be somewhere to the north, some place or other.

 

Fletcher, after his experiences at the Coral Sea battle, might feel compelled to hold back part of his Yorktown striking force for this reason, but would Mitscher and Ring voluntarily pass up the chance to claim Japanese carrier scalps, I just don’t think so! Ring, according to Alexander Griffin in A Ship to Remember [f/n 156], was a man who, "lived, ate and slept aviation" and was no novice. He had helped form pre-war tactics and had seen more real naval air war than almost anyone present at Midway that day, having been liaison officer aboard the Royal Navy aircraft carrier Ark Royal in the Mediterranean against both the Luftwaffe and the Regia Aeronautica as well as the German and Italian fleets. Nor should too much be read into his adopting the 'Search-Attack' formation for his Group, as offered the promise of a broad-fronted approach to enable the whole combined formation to take advantage of the situation, if they found their enemy.

 

Clay Fisher, who flew as Ring’s wing-man that morning, always felt that they took an outward track of about 239 degrees, just as Walter Lord always maintained. Clay told me [f/n 157]:

 

“If McClusky had not spotted the Japanese destroyer I think he would have searched for a short time to the north, because he had sighted the smoke from Midway. We will never know whether Ring sighted the smoke, but he must have because it was so visible. All the time our flight was approaching our estimated enemy position I was constantly scanning above and to our right for enemy combat air patrols. If we had been flying on the course of about 265 I would have been scanning to the left. I haven't checked out where enemy carriers were actually positioned on the time-line. If I had been the flight leader I would have changed course to the north for just a few minutes and then turned back to a course to the Hornet. Our fuel amount was becoming critical to the point of no return.”

 

“After the BOM I always thought VT-8 had changed course to the right, away from our outbound leg. When all the later information commenced to be written about our northerly course I read it in disbelief. That’s one thing I do remember about of June 4th and as I was practically operating on adrenaline those memories are still very vivid in my mind.” Clayton added, "I computed the distance I could see at BOM if I was flying at 16,000 feet. There was no way I could have seen the smoke from Midway if we had flown the 265-270 degree course as alleged." [f/n 158]

 

Fisher had no verifiable proof, but, then again, nor did Rodee, (who asserted a very different course during a telephone conversation) [f/n 159], when it actually came down to it. Some veterans and others, tried to help locate his Logbook in which this course was recorded, but came to the conclusion that, “Bottom line at this point seems to be that the VS-8 Commander’s Log Book went down with the Hornet at Santa Cruz.” [f/n 160] Ronald Russell of the BOMRT wrote to me that: “When Rodee was citing course ‘about 260 to 265’ in his interviews [actually a phone conversation] with Bowen Weisheit and Jim Sawruck, it seems very likely he was doing that from memory rather than from the Log itself. That’s suggested by the indistinct course he gave Weisheit and the fact that he didn’t want to send Sawruck copies of his log pages.” [f/n 161] Clayton Fisher told me he had spoken to John Rodee twice requesting permission to send me a copy of his father's flight log, but received no response so perhaps he is unable to find it. I have also contacted Mr Rodee twice requesting permission to view and copy the appropriate page and appealing to his sense of national history that it is important to show the evidence, if it exists. So far to no avail, however.

 

Fisher also stated; "Frankly I don't see how he would have his father's log book with entries from BOM. Rodee, to my best memory, only led VS-8 on the initial launch June 4th. He did not fly June 5th and, I believe, the XO of VS-8 led the two missions on June 6th. Normally a squadron clerk made the flight log entries after a flight, of the plane's serial number, length of the flight and a designation number of the type of flight. Unless Rodee's flight log was full after BOM and a new log book started and Rodee sent the old log book home, I feel his log book must have been lost when the Hornet was later sunk. [at the Battle of Santa Cruz]. My flight log book and a few other flight log books of VB-8 were saved by a VB-8 pilot, Art Cason, when the Hornet Air group abandoned her before the ship's company personnel. Cason was able to step from the Hornet's tilted flight deck to a cantilevered (sic) wing of a destroyer and not get the log books wet." [f/n 162] Fisher also said: "Rodee was flying in the second launch that morning and would have not been able to personally try and save his log book because he never landed back on the Hornet. I'm one of the few Hornet pilots that have their log books, thanks to Cason. So I don't understand how Rodee may have had his log book, unless the old was completed at Midway and a new one started after that battle." [f/n 163] If, somehow, Rodee's June 4th log did manage to survive Hornet's subsequent sinking, I personally have not yet seen it to enable examination and verification, but continue to look forward to the opportunity.

 

In a recent book Professor Craig L. Symonds states baldly that the words ‘Departure from Hornet was taken on predetermined interception course, Group Commander Leading’ was “…the only comment Ring ever made about the course he flew that day…”  [164] But this is simply not the case. It was not the only comment Ring made in his ‘Lost Letter’, because he also stated, without any ambiguity, that this predetermined interception course took him to “… the line between the last reported position of the enemy and Midway Island…”  Some modern historians and researchers, who state that he flew a course of 265 without question or producing evidence, seem to be able to read this line for some reason, or, if they can, they fail to either understand its crystal clear clarity or prefer to ignore it totally.  Symonds also states that “The most telling piece of evidence that the Hornet’s air group flew a course of 265 is that Walt Rodee, commander of the scouting squadron (and later an admiral), wrote the course down in his log book.” [165] Rodee certainly told Weisheit over the telephone that he wrote this course in his log book, but Weisheit never bothered to obtain that log book or examine it himself to verify that a course of 265 was what was actually written there. Why not?

 

Other more dutiful researchers and historians who later so tried later to verify it by examination were refused sight of the log book. I do not know whether Professor Symonds, or indeed any of the other advocates of a 265 course, have actually seen for themselves this log book (which Fisher was convinced went down with the Hornet when she sank) or not. If they have done so then why do they not verify it by showing the world exactly what was written? Or maybe perhaps, none of them has ever seen either the Log Book or the entry in it? If so they, like Weisheit, are basing their theories and condemnation of Ring on a telephone statement made decades after the event and nothing more. Rodee may have simply remembered incorrectly when speaking on the telephone to Weisheit, and his being an admiral later would not have any bearing on any possible memory lapse– Ring was also an admiral later if it comes to that, yet his written and considered statement, made only four years rather than four decades after the event, is not believed. Without producing the log book or at least viewing it, this “…telling piece of evidence” would not stand up for a moment in any court.

By contrast, as above, Clayton Fisher still possessed his own personal log book entry for that mission, which he allowed me to see and Xerox, and that states clearly in the Remarks column, “Sent to attack Jap carriers”; it does not say “Search” as it does on the preceding day’s entry. That would seem to indicate a specific attack mission rather than an optimistic hunt. I reproduced that page in my book [f/n 166], and have frequently made it quite clear that I would very happily and willingly include a reproduction of Rodee’s Log Book page also as proof of a different course; but, so far, no search has apparently unearthed this Log Book with its evidence to enable me to do so.

Professor Thaddeus V Tuleja personally interviewed James S. Gray, Jr, of VF-6, and later obtained his eyewitness account in writing. In his 1960 book Climax at Midway he quotes from this source direct, and Gray stated that the Hornet and the Enterprise torpedo-bomber groups flew roughly the same course from their carriers to the target, gradually drifting apart over the course of time (Hornet’s TBD’s drifting more to the north, the Enterprise TBD’s to the south.) Forced to choose between the two, he counted the aircraft and (mistakenly) elected to cover the Waldron unit, which, he says quite clearly, made a “beeline” for the target. He makes no reference at all about either his unit or Waldron’s originally flying a course of about 270 degrees, as claimed by some, or that Waldron made any major course correction until virtually on top of the Nagumo force. This negates the 270 degree theory [and remember, theory it remains, no written facts have yet been presented by those who constantly demand only written facts for any ideas that vary from their own, but who offer none themselves other than a one-sided version of a long-distance telephone call that does not appear to have been followed up or verified in writing before being promulgated in print.] So Gray and Fisher both maintain that both carriers’ air strikes flew similar courses to each other, not widely differing ones. But their factual memories are dismissed as “irrelevant” because they do not fit the assumptions of some! How can history be treated like that?

By 2009 researcher Bill Vickrey has a two inch file on Ring at Midway and he has stated that he continues to be convinced that Ring’s flight path was exactly as described in the after action report filed by at the time. Like me he thinks that it would have made no sense to fly any other course following Ady’s report. Although Hornet and Mitscher received no updates of de-crypts during the battle, they had the earlier Hypo information which stated that the Kido Butai were to launch from a position 50 miles from Midway. In actual fact this information proved totally incorrect and they launched their Midway strike from three times that distance, but that was all Ring had to go on, so, as he fully admitted, he made the decision to seek them south, i.e. closer to Midway. Captain Don Kirkpatrick USN, Rtd. told Vickrey that Ring and Rodee together made the decision and that they, as stated, flew the path reported in Hornet's action report. [167]

I have now obtained a full copy of one piece of evidence that might be expected to prove beyond doubt that alleged "due west" outward course, Lieutenant Commander John G. Foster, Jr’s Action Report No. 7. Foster was the Air Operations Officer on Mitscher's staff on 4th June. This Action Report is CINCPAC Battle of Midway - Lt. Cmdr. J. G. Foster's Report [f/n 168]. Does it blame the failure of Hornet's initial strike on a Mitscher/Ring outward course of 260 degrees? Well, actually, no, it does not. What Foster did say is this:-

"(a) At 041550 intercepted a message from a patrol plane to Midway giving information that enemy planes were heading toward Midway with bearing of 320 degrees and distance of 150 miles"

(b) At 041809 received the information listed in (a) on the Fox schedule.

(c) At 041823 received information on Fox schedule giving position of enemy; 2 CV's and Main Body, bearing 320, distance 180, course 1356, speed 25.

(d) At 041853 received orders from O.T.C. via visual to launch attack group, employ search-attack procedure and each group attack one carrier. Deferred departure was ordered.

(e) At 041900 started launching attack group and eight plane combat patrols.

(f) At 041942 completed launching attack group 10 VF, 34 VSB and 15 VTB plus 8 VF for combat patrol.

(g) At 042016 Enterprise broke radio silence on 6290 kcs (combat patrol frequency) to direct fighter for intercepting unidentified aircraft."

Foster stated that the original contact report planes heading for Midway was received on Fox schedule 2 hours and 19 minutes after receipt of original report and that the first report of enemy's position, course and speed was received 2 hours and 33 minutes after enemy planes had been sighted headed for Midway. Furthermore, the orders to launch an attack were received 30 minutes after receipt of contact report. No ‘Point Option’ was given but, in lieu thereof, closing of the enemy was indicated. Due to deferred departure being adopted, the Hornet group did not proceed toward destination until about 45 minutes after start of launching, or 1 hour and 15 minutes after receipt of contact report. No information on enemy course and speed was received from 1823 until 2200, a period of 3 hours and 37 minutes after original contact report or 3 hours after launching of attack group. In total about 3 hours and 25 minutes elapsed between the launching an indication of starting attack. Foster concluded; "The 2 hour and 19 minute delay on the Fox schedule of the original contact.....is entirely too great a time lag and indicates that only direct communication is sufficient. This is especially so where aircraft are involved. He also concluded- "The period of 2 hours and 33 minutes between the sighting of enemy planes approaching Midway and the report of enemy surface force position, course and speed was entirely too long and inadequate under the conditions obtaining and especially so in as much as the enemy's tactics conformed to prior estimates" [f/n 169].

Foster concluded:-"The lack of information on the enemy's surface forces between 0623 and 1000 was serious and jeopardized the tactical advantage we enjoyed over the enemy. The delay of the Enterprise's air group attack against the enemy carriers and the failure of the Hornet's VSB planes to make contact with the enemy can be attributed to this lack of information. Further, the loss of planes from the Hornet and Enterprise by water landings from lack of fuel can be partly attached to this unfortunate lack of information on the enemy's movements." Note that in this report there is not a single word about a westerly course being adopted by Hornet's attack group. However, when Major Weisheit, himself a Navigation expert of high-standing, many years later telephone Admiral Foster, Jr, (as he had by then become), Foster stated that all the Hornet's aircraft, "were tracked straight out to the limit of the ship's radar (about 50-60 miles) on a heading of almost due west" [f/n 170], a course which Rodee, also on the telephone, later confirmed as 260-265. These views must command respect, albeit that, to date at least, no written confirmation of the claims made in these two telephone memories seem to have been unearthed yet.

Both Major Bowen P Weisheit's Last Flight of Ensign Kelly, and Black Shoe Carrier Admiral therefore asserted with some confidence that the outward course adopted by Ring was almost due westward, but so far only appear to cite verbal memories. I have yet to see any examples of actual printed source material to flesh these memories out, although almost every other statement made is meticulously sourced. I have requested sight of such proof, but without result or response. As recorded above, I have tried myself to locate the Rodee Log Book and Hornet Radar Report that such views are apparently based upon. Again, I repeat, I am still searching for them and still hoping they will appear. However, the National Archives and Records Administration at College Park, Maryland, advised me [f/n 171], that the ships radar report itself is not available, because - "RADAR, radio, quartermaster, flight, medical, and engineering logs are considered temporary records and are part of the US Navy's schedule of the disposition of records." They added- "... the only permanent log retained by the US Navy are the deck logs of commissioned US Naval vessels." In response to a request for a further search, NWCT2R replied [f/n 172], that: "We are unable to locate the record that you have requested. I reviewed the action report provided by the USS Hornet contained as an enclosure in a final report filed with CINCPAC. I also checked the other support enclosures and was unable to locate a report by Lieutenant Fleming."

Likewise, the Radar Log of the cruiser Atlanta (CL-51) has not been preserved in the National Archives. It would have been a valuable plotting source as her place was "at force centre and guide". Her Deck Log exists and I have a copy but it merely confirms the ships course and speed. Thus at 0639 on the morning of 4th June, Atlanta "turned to course 040 degrees (t & pgc) and at 0653 changed course again to 060 degrees (t & pgc)" [f/n 173]. At 0810 "Japanese ships reported to southwest. Manoeuvred (sic) at various courses at high speed, launching and recovering planes." At 1008, almost two hours after the enemy carrier sighting report had been received, "Both carrier air groups launched for attack" and at 1025 "Sighted enemy plane to south" [f/n 174].

How then did those who cite Hornet's Radar Log as evidence, come to view it? Did Hornet's radar log alone somehow escape the fate that all other USS ships radar logs suffered, and, if it somehow did, where is it? The Hornet's deck log most certainly states that, at 1300, "Picked up large group of planes bearing 260 true, distant 56 miles. 1312 Sighted planes of our group returning from morning flight. 1312 Turned into wind and commenced recovering aircraft." [f/n 175]. That certainly confirms the return flight path of part of Ring's force searching around for their home base, which had moved on in the two hours plus since take-off without giving them any Point Option, but there is nothing recorded in this Log about the tracking of the original outward course of Hornet's Attack Group. If there was indeed a conspiracy for some kind of cover-up, as some claim, in order to hide from posterity the "real" outward course, how did this piece of evidence escape alteration intact?

Also, although Major Weisheit, stated that Hornet's VS-8 squadron, "...flew straight out, turned around, and flew straight back", the Hornet herself had moved on in the intervening period. Had the VS squadron flown "straight back" [f/n 176] along the same alleged 265 degree course as they had left the carrier at 0742, they would have found themselves at 1100, far to the north of their mobile base. The Hornet's deck log shows that at 0800 she was position 31 39N, 176 13 W; at 1200 the Hornet logged a position of 30 40N, 176 31W. After that initial launch Hornet had turned to course 240 true at 1006 and from 1130 for the rest of the day it was recorded that "The base course for the rest of the day was 280 true... We steamed on the base course at 30 knots, closing the Enterprise except when conducting flight operations." [f/n 177]. If they had flown out at 260 degrees they would have had to return on a course of approximately 270 - 280 degrees as viewed from the ship in order to reach Hornet's new position. If they were not receiving Hornet's Zed-Baker transmissions they could have returned from either a 260 or a 240 course and, only when some fifty-miles out, have picked up the signal that steered them in on a 260 course as reported, so this final lap course proves little either way as to their original departure course.

While no Point Option had been given to the airborne squadrons, VS-8 eventually found home base, but the route cannot have been "straight back". If they had taken an outward departure route of 265 true, the most direct route home must have diverged from that by some measure or other. How much? Weisheit's re-drawn map [f/n 178] show Rodee's VS-8 squadron turning south in a large arc at the end of their outward run, before heading back, but even with this generous allowance, the two courses, outward and homeward, still diverge, although not as much as a tighter turn and "straight back" course reversal would have done.

Ring stated that due to the fact that, on aborting, he could only pick up the Enterprise's YE homing signal, and that the two Spruance carriers were anyway found to have been transmitting different homing codes, because they had been changed by the CTF but that the change had not been received in Hornet. Ring therefore (a) could not hear Hornet's homing signal, (b) disregarded the Enterprise different homing signal and instead (c) navigated by dead reckoning, taking Rodee's unit with him. "VS-8 under Lt-Cdr Rodee followed me in my change," However, Ring stated, VB-8 and VF-8, initially, "...appeared to follow the false course..." [f/n 179] Clayton Fisher argued that Rodee, "...probably may have made a small course direction indicated by the YE signal..." [f/n 180] but this is only conjecture.

The Hornet was equipped with SC-1 (S for Search, C for Model 3, under BuShips classification) long-wave search radar set at the time of Midway, with an "A" scope, provision for IFF connections and worked with a gyro-compass repeater. The 90 ft rectangular Antenna atop the tripod top of the ships mainmast, had a reliable maximum range of thirty miles with a preamplifier, or 75 miles with a preamplifier, against medium bombers at an altitude of 1,000 ft, with a ranging accuracy of plus or minus 200 yards. The deck log confirms aircraft were being picked up at least 50-plus miles on this apparatus on 4th June. The scope was operated by a single RdM2 (Radarman Second Class), J. S. Poffenberger, reporting to the Fighter Direction Officer, usually a Lieutenant (s.g.) and in Hornet's case at Midway; this was Lieutenant Allan Foster Fleming, (W & Jr. D, V1 and Fly 2, on Hornet's Fighter Control Plot) and a real expert at the job. [f/n 181]

Unfortunately for the "due west radar plot" theory, Rear-Admiral Fleming's son, Colonel Allan F. "Chips" Fleming, Jr., told me that most of his father's personal papers were pitched after he died. "I was stationed overseas at the time and was not able to prevent their destruction." [f/n 182] There is also no mention of any such radar plot in Malcolm LeCompte's article in the USNI's Naval History article. [f/n 183] So, that being the case, then where exactly did that radar plot, said to have recorded an "almost due west" outward heading for Ring, come from other than memory?

Nor is there any Rodee personal War Diary or memoir of these events either, which might offer an alternative source to the elusive Log Book, or, if there is, it has not yet been produced either and Rodee never mentioned it to some of the expert Midway researches he later confided in. If such source or sources still actually exist, then fine, I will most certainly and unreservedly accept this prognosis, indeed embrace it, but I have, so far anyway, not seen any. So for those who actually have them, or have seen them, why not share it with the rest of us? I'm from England, not Missouri, but, as Harry S. Truman said, "Show me!” If not, then the assertions made that a “cover up” on a grand scale was done by Mitscher, which have been, and continue to be, made, are, at least, open to debate.

The Hornet's deck log [f/n 184] states that at 0855, she and her escorting cruisers and destroyers, "...left formation and turned into wind to launch aircraft. Steadied on 158 true. Launched air patrol. Launched attack group of 34 scout bombers, 15 torpedo bombers and 10 escorting fighters. Mission is enemy concentration approaching Midway from the northwest. [f/n 185]

Another question. Would Mitscher and his staff, as the most junior of the three carrier commanders, (subordinate moreover to Spruance as well as Fletcher and, ultimately, Nimitz), have had the audacity to unilaterally make such a search, rather than strike the known and given enemy as ordered? It must be considered doubtful.

Mitscher, of course, is currently demonised on Internet Forums, despite the fact that he had an aviation background rather than being one of the JCL ("Johnny Come Lately"), non-aviators who had special flight school Primary and Basic Air Training, later in their careers, in order to command carriers, seaplane tenders and Naval Air Stations. Among such JCL's were King, Halsey, McCain, Sherman and Reeves. This "five carrier landings and take-offs" minimum requirement was mandatory under the recommendations of President Calvin Coolidge's President's Aircraft Board (the so-called "Morrow Board") which were incorporated in the 1927 Public Law Legislation passed by the 69th Congress. Section 3 of these Statues at Large of the United States stipulated that "Line officers detailed to command of aircraft carriers or aircraft tenders shall be naval aviators or naval aviation observers who are otherwise qualified." There was no requirement, however, for a Flag Officer or Admiral in charge of a carrier force to be either an aviator or an observer, which is just as well as neither Fletcher nor Spruance, let alone Nimitz, would have met such a requirement at Midway. Instead they were both forced to rely on their Air Staffs, while the experienced, but junior, Captain Mitscher had his own hand-picked team of equally air-minded officers. Mitscher and his team are currently criticised for failing to adopt the new technology appertaining to flying operations (ZB/YE etc), and yet the evidence of Clayton Fisher is that he flew many earlier scouting missions from the Hornet that were totally reliant on this new apparatus and that it was easy to use and never failed him. Ring certainly managed to reason out the two differing signals from the two carriers of his group and fly straight back to his base from the first mission, even if many of his fighter pilots, who turned back earlier, did not. So this remains a moot point.

Additionally, I have been severely taken to task by some for mentioning that Elmer B Potter, among many others, has expressed the view that, had Halsey been in charge, he would have fought Midway in a very different [f/n 186] manner to Fletcher. “Not possible”, I have been advised; because Nimitz’s battle plan was too tightly drawn, (even though Nimitz himself stated it was “not mandatory”). Yet one critic was to write of Browning's unsatisfactory advice to Spruance that; "Had Halsey been at Midway, he could have been expected to know what to ask and when precisely to step in. The mounting of the great TF-16 strike might not have become the fiasco it was, the neglect of Point Option could have been averted, and the aggressive Halsey might have prevented the lethargy that followed recovery of the morning attack." [f/n 187]

However, even if one accepts, against the evidence, that it was a very tight plan, and if, therefore a maverick like Halsey is deemed to have been so completely constrained that he would not have deviated from it, then how on earth could the most junior of those in command, Mitscher, have had the temerity to opt for his own “take” on Spruance’s and Nimitz’s instruction and not gone anyplace else but straight for the known enemy?

Would Halsey have done things differently? Dusty Kleiss is very clear that Halsey would have adopted a vastly different approach, he wrote [f/n 188] how, following his experiences on 7th December 1941, "Halsey immediately ignored his 'U.S. Naval Doctrine of March 1941', prescribing a 'Combined Attack', since it was illogical with the three [types of] airplanes under his Command. Two were obsolete, had very short ranges, and had horrible weaponry; the other one was modern, had twice their range and had reliable weaponry. Their speeds and stalls were so different, that a massed group flying at the same speed (100 knots for our TBD's carrying a torpedo) was ludicrous. Based on our Marshall Islands attacks and other battles, Halsey came to the following conclusions: 1. Our SBD's with their stepped-down formation and frequent gunnery drills had fairly good protection against enemy fighters. 2. Our F4F's with numerous gun failures, were desperately needed to protect our Carriers. SBD's did not need them. 3. TBD's might be used on short scouting missions; they would not be used in battle except against unprotected, stationary targets. 4. Whenever enemy airplanes might threaten us, our planes should make a dog-leg home, to avoid the enemy knowing the location of our carrier. 5. The most qualified pilot should lead formations; not necessarily the most senior one. We VS-6 pilots were instructed by Earl Gallaher to keep our position plotted in a Latitude and Longitude diagram in the right-hand corner of our plotting board. That way we could easily calculate the enemy position in a few seconds; much easier than a reference to Midway. We did plot Midway, since we were told to make a 40-mile dog-leg heading there, before heading home. We SBD's were to strike the enemy immediately, when the enemy's location, course and speed were known. No TBD's or F4F's were going with us." [f/n 189]

Now, if that scenario is truly what was in Halsey's mind, then I think I may be reasonably justified in claiming that he would have fought the battle differently to Fletcher! Nor am I alone in thinking thus, as I have indicated.

Dusty Kleiss also informed me that; "Dick Best and possible Earl Gallaher listened intently to what Admiral Nimitz wanted us to do in our Ambush Attack. Nimitz recorded the expected dates, ships, courses and sequences he had learned from his Code group. He pointed out the most vulnerable spot us to attack the enemy carriers, and even their most likely courses while heading to Midway. Only SBD's were involved; our other planes lacked enough range for a surprise attack. Sending out our SBD's on searches to find enemy carriers would make any ambush impossible... searches by some other means was essential. Earl Gallaher talked with us section leaders about all he had learned, either from Nimitz or from Dick Best. We huddled at one end of the ready room. Had any combined attack been planned by Nimitz, we would have been given charts or diagrams or other schedules or groupings, just like Halsey had previously done. All that was lacking." He added- "I knew Halsey fairly well, and talked with him several times. He never gave good words about Fletcher or thought that the Coral Sea battle was done properly", adding, "....Earl Gallaher and Dick Best felt the same...each carefully avoided any mention of Fletcher in any speech. Another friend wrote me. 'The best action Fletcher ever did, was to turn over his command to Spruance!'" Dusty concluded - "I searched diligently for some reason for Fletcher to be away from his directed location at dawn on the 4th June, but found none. He had no boiler problem. I wish I could give a higher report on Fletcher, but facts are facts." [f/n 190].

Mitscher and his staff have been severely castigated as, “epitomising the know-it-all attitude” [f/n 191] (a verdict which some might indeed consider degenerating by the way!) but on Day One of the battle Mitscher actually “knew” relatively little. And, as the morning’s events developed, he was told even less. He lacked the security-cleared coders able to transcribe Nimitz’s later Intelligence updates, and from which the Yorktown’s staff benefited enormously in planning their own, later, strike. Ring leading the Hornet strike force aloft was ever worse-served, for what very little fresh information that percolated through to Mitscher, and that was scanty enough. It was stated in Hornet's Battle Report that information pertaining to the change of course by the Nagumo carriers was not passed on to Ring due to the need to maintain radio silence. However, Hornet's Communications Officer, Lieutenant-Commander Oscar H. Dobson, firmly maintained to the end of his life that no such information was ever de-ciphered aboard Hornet in the first place, so could not be passed on anyway. [f/n 192] Like McClusky, Ring only had the original sightings to base his best “guestimate” upon.

The serious charge levelled against Mitscher is said to be based on numerous “testimonies” and his accuser is stated to have based his allegation on these by clearly, “citing documented sources, largely original, for every significant statement in the manuscript.” But where, I ask, is the actual citation for this charge against Mitscher; there is no footnote indicator here, as elsewhere, indicating any written, provable evidence, [as indignantly demanded in the case of Fletcher], for the case claiming the alleged Mitscher cover-up. I have personally requested sight of this evidence myself, without eliciting any response to date. That is entirely their right to decide of course, but then, if not to me, why not release it generally?

Personal memories apart then, three documents are relevant as bearing witness to Mitscher’s alleged deceit, (1) The Log Book of Rodee, in which he said over the telephone that he had recorded a course of 265 degrees; (2) The Radar Log of the Hornet, presumably originating from Lieutenant Fleming, which is said to have tracked Ring out on a course of about “due west”, (3) The “Secret” J G Foster critique. These are cited as “proof positive” of Mitscher’s guilt. If these documents do so show, then, case closed, Mitscher would surely be guilty as charged. So why not let us look at them in a little more detail and see what their actual value is as irrefutable evidence.

Well, that’s a problem, we can’t. And we can’t because it would appear, they seem to be generally unavailable for examination, at least as far as we know, as we have already stated. So, IF that is, and remains, actually the case, how do these three documents rate as “testimonies”?

(1) The Rodee Log Book as distinct from his memory. If it can be produced, and if it shows in Rodee’s handwriting 265 degrees or similar, then, case proven. If it cannot, (and to date, as far as I am aware, it has not) then it is merely anecdotal evidence, of no use one way or the other as firm evidence.

(2) The Hornet Radar Log – If it can be produced, and if it shows official recorded tracking Ring at 265 degrees or similar, then, case proven. If it cannot, (and to date, as far as I am aware, it has not) then it is merely anecdotal evidence, of no use one way or the other as firm evidence.

(3) J. G. Fosters "Secret Critique" as distinct from his memory– If it can be produced, and if it contains written official evidence of tracking Ring at 265 degrees or similar, then, case proven. If it cannot, (and to date, as far as I am aware, it has not) then it is merely anecdotal evidence, of no use one way or the other as firm evidence.

Therefore until these three cited written evidences are made public, or indeed any one of them, these entire positive documentary proofs surely just melt away to become unsubstantiated allegations. Maybe there is a number (4) document, not hitherto mentioned, which would represent firm written proof, or a number (5), or more. But until they are produced and exhibited, how can the charge against Mitscher be anything other than allegation based on hearsay? Hardly proof enough to hang a man, or even ruin his reputation. Together the verbal memories are powerful and strong indications of the conspiracy theory, but are they scientifically sufficient to say, with total certainty, case proven?

So let us return to some clues to seek another possible scenario to this puzzle. To do that lets us examine the two alternative courses under dispute.

If we draw a line on a course from the Hornet Group’s departure point at H, until it meets the spot “between the last reported position of the enemy and Midway Island”, you will surely have the spot where Ring said he had taken his force. He said “between the last reported position and Midway”, not astern of, or to the north of, the last reported position. Plot what course would have taken him there from the Hornet, on about 236 degrees and at a distance of 178 miles. The position would have been approximately ‘X’. This would have been Ring’s “Estimated Point of Contact” [f/n 193] or Waldron’s “down there” [f/n 194], an estimate which the latter personally rejected for he was convinced that the enemy would have turned north well before then, which as we now know, they did.

So I ask the following questions with a completely open mind, and because sometimes people misinterpret statements to suit their own convictions, I again emphatically stress that they are not hard-and-fast “assertions” but possibilities to be considered in coming to a conclusion.

Would a course of 265 degrees, to 178 miles and then out again to 225 miles, as stated on the phone by Rodee, have taken Ring’s force to a position between “the last reported position of the enemy and Midway Island?” No.

Would a course of 260 degrees to “due west” as speculated by many other historians, have taken him to a position “between the last reported position of the enemy and Midway Island?” No.

At Ring’s estimated desired position would Clayton Fisher, have been able to see the single column smoke from the burning oil tank at Midway as he avers? In the latter case the answer is Yes, for that column of smoke was visible for a maximum of ‘50’ miles out from Midway, depending on altitude of the aircraft.

But could Fisher, who was at 12,000 feet altitude once the force, fatally, turned south at 225 miles out, see it then? Only if he was already well to the south, for at that height he would have to have been at a maximum of only twenty-five miles distant from Midway. Whereas a “postulated due west” initial departure would have had him many miles beyond such a visible sighting. Clayton Fisher himself wrote in his memoirs, [f/n 195] that- “…I noticed a large column of black smoke to the southwest of our position which had to be coming from Midway Island. This column of smoke looked very similar to post-war pictures of the smoke bellowing up from the island. You can see large object such as a mountain range from over a hundred miles, but our fight position had to be closer than forty miles from the Island for me to be able to see that 300 foot high smoke column” Note he only saw a single column of smoke, from the burning Midway oil tank, and not three columns of smoke from the Japanese carriers, and it was too early in the day to be them anyway.

Then surely the course adopted by Ring to reach “X” on my diagram below, must have been approximately 236 and not 260-265 degrees, or “due west”, as claimed?

The irony seems to escape some that Fletcher, (who undoubtedly and without question certainly did despatch some of his aircraft to search away from the two reported Nagumo Force’s expected line of approach in order to hunt at short range for two non-confirmed enemy carriers, and who held back other aircraft from the main attack, just in case they turned up), to be wise and sagacious for so doing; OK – so it may have been, but why then are Mitscher and Ring, (who, without written proofed evidence, are only alleged to have directed their attack at the same mythical ships), conversely adjudged incompetents for doing much the same thing, i.e. looking for the “missing” carriers!

Incidentally I have also been taken to task for reporting that the Fletcher morning search, “found nothing” [f/n 196]. This statement has been termed “arrogant” [f/n 197], but “nothing” is precisely what they did find, because there was nothing there for them to find– this is just a simple fact, which any writer on the subject would be obliged to record. Here is how Captain Buckmaster recorded the incident to Admiral Nimitz: "The search returned at about 0830 with negative results..." [f/n 198] Is this also to be deemed arrogant!

Maybe 265 degrees was indeed the course Hornet’s first strike took that June 4th; maybe we will never know, but might we not at least consider that Mitscher and his team were not subsequently totally concerned with covering their backs? That Ring might just possibly have taken a similar course to McClusky, but turned south and not north, (as he fully admits to), thus missing the providential sighting of the returning Japanese destroyer, which led McClusky to the target? Dare we even consider that there might just have been no conspiracy after all? Or is such consideration itself now considered rank heresy by some? Now there is real arrogance!

Finally, if, as some still most emphatically claim today, Hornet's attack group led by Ring, flew a course of 265 degrees, at the behest of Mitscher, and then arranged for an elaborate plan to cover it all up, then those so making such serious allegations must also have to accept that, as well as the CINCPAC, Admiral Nimitz, the Head of the Navy, Admiral Ernest King himself and his able Chief of Staff and Aide, Vice-Admiral Richard Stanislaus Edwards [f/n 199], must have also have been fully implicated as part-and-parcel of this same alleged plot, or privy to it. Why? Simply because of a document known as Secret Information Bulletin No. 1 from the Command File World War II, entitled Battle Experience from Pearl Harbor to Midway, December 1941 to June 1942 including Makin Island Raid 17-18 August.

This document was prepared by the United States Fleet, Headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief and it was issued on February 15, 1943. The whole raison d'etre of these reports was, "...to promulgate reliable information concerning actual War experience". Furthermore they were issued following a considerable delay, so that a "...complete analysis were made before issue to the Fleet." [f/n 200]. This was a considered document at the highest level. This document was de-classified on 27 September 1958 [f/n 201] and a copy was made available to me by the Head, Operational Archives Branch, Department of the Navy, Naval Historical Centre, Washington DC.

Included as an integral part of this document is a map, entitled Battle of Midway 3-6 June 1942. That map clearly shows the track of Hornet's aircraft [f/n 202], (they list Ring's force after the torpedo-bombers had left him, as 35 VSB's and 10 VF's) on that first sortie. Their track is clearly shown, and it is exactly the same course, and a little to the south of, the track taken by McClusky and the Enterprise strike force, 240 degrees, though continuing further out before turning south, exactly as Ring claimed to have done. The citation on that map is that this force, "did not find enemy," and the main reason given is that the Japanese striking force made radical changes of course which was not reported. Compare my estimate map, based solely on Ring's statement, and this US Navy Officially approved and detailed map - the courses are almost identical.

Finally, the Office of Naval Intelligence itself concluded that the, "... reversal of the course of the enemy carriers occurred about an hour after our planes had left the Hornet and the Enterprise. Our carriers did not break radio silence to inform our pilots of this fact. Consequently, the planes failed to find the enemy." [f/n 203] Therefore, if the American carriers had launched earlier from positions closer to the enemy, this time lag would not have existed and they would have stood a better chance of all finding the enemy. If the Mitscher conspiracy theorists are correct then they also, like Admiral King and his staff, must have been a part of the alleged "cover up" also, or have ultimately sanctioned it!

The conspiracy theorists, and they abound, aver that, by stating that his own report was more likely to be accurate than Hornet’s, Spruance was dropping a broad hint that Mitscher had “doctored” his own report. What he was doing was nothing of the sort, Spruance was not that type of man, hints, half-truths and innuendo were no part of his make-up, that is far more the remit of the Internet geeks of a much later, and more cynical  age. What Spruance was stating was the actual truth, which was that he had received more updated information than Mitscher, and much of that information was either not passed on to Mitscher, or if it was, as explained, could not be de-coded aboard Hornet, so was valueless. These were the facts that Spruance was explaining, not hinting at some far-fetched “cover-up” scheme dreamt up on the spur of the moment.

Another strange theory that has more recently been advanced by armchair warriors is that, because the Kido Butai had become somewhat dispersed from their normal cruising formation, they were spread over a larger area and must have been easy to spot from the air had Ring adopted the course he said he did.  The reasoning seemingly being that, as Ring failed to spot the Kido Butai and they in turn did not spot him, then he must have flown a totally different, more northerly search course. Such speculation is, at best, only that – no facts. What it completely fails to take into account is that McClusky failed to spot the Kido Butai either, or be spotted by them. Are they then suggesting that McClusky flew a 260 degree course? Of course they are not; so why should anyone think that this is proof that Ring did. The fact of the matter is that neither Hornet nor Enterprise sighted the enemy on their outward legs, they both failed to see the Nagumo force. Ring turned south thinking that the Japanese had continued along the last known course to recover their strike force, while McClusky turned north, fortunately sighting the Japanese destroyer and then, and only then, came upon Kido Butai.  It seems that every effort is being made to attack Ring’s movements, but not a shred of written evidence has yet been produced to give some substance to these armchair judgements.

It is an unfortunate fact that, away from a home computer in the 21st-century, and back in the wide wastes of the Pacific of 1942, it was very easy indeed not to sight a formation of ships, especially when they were steering a totally different course to that which had been last reported. And both striking forces did miss them on the way out and both probably flew to similar points initially.

Bill Vickrey kindly informed me that the Hornet’s Air Operations Officer, Rear-Admiral Johnny Foster, who was a couple of years behind Ring at the Naval Academy, were well acquainted. “He told me of a conversation he had with Ring just after he got back to Hornet. In summary, Ring said to Foster, ‘I don’t know what happened out there – I just don’t know.” Foster described the anguish in Ring’s voice and it was heart-rending.” [f/n 204] Hardly the remote, colourless person as presented by some on Internet sites.

Ring’s son, Vice Admiral Stewart Ring wrote to me that. “For decades authors, many of them rather renowned, have chastised, criticized and blamed my father Stanhope C. Ring for his actions/inactions during the battle. For the first time in my recollection, you and only you, have chosen to look fairly and in an unbiased way on dad’s performance during the battle and I am most grateful to you for both your fairness and your perspicacity.” [f/n 205]

Bill Vickrey wrote, “Sometimes I think that Clay and I are the only people who believe that Ring flew on the path described in Mitscher’s action report.” [f/n 206]

To both these gentlemen I say, you are not alone in your thinking. I remain open- minded in contrast to the “theorists” who continue to present allegations as facts. Whatever the outcome, my research continues to find the truth.

Whether the Mitscher/Ring conspiracy theory is true or merely pure unproven speculation, one man did most certainly send out aircraft against a purely illusionary Japanese force, and also held back part of his own striking force later against the same non-existent threat. This resulted in his fleet being out of station and out of range as a result and in the weakening his attack force. However, far from being pilloried for so doing he is praised and lauded for it. That man was Admiral Fletcher. A classic case of double standards.

Whether the Mitscher/Ring conspiracy theory is true or merely pure unproven speculation, one man did most certainly send out aircraft against a purely illusionary Japanese force, and also held back part of his own striking force later against the same non-existent threat. This resulted in his fleet being out of station and out of range as a result and in the weakening his attack force. However, far from being pilloried for so doing he is praised and lauded for it. That man was Admiral Fletcher. A classic case of double standards.

Finally someone who really ought to have known what he was talking about was the Squadron Navigator of VT-8, one Ensign George Gay. In his book, Sole Survivor, published in 1980, he wrote:-

“I was the last plane on the right side and the last one of three planes. I had been put back there so I could concentrate on my navigation [my italics] more than flying close formation. Our course was a constant 240 degrees and the speed 110 knots.” [207]

 

Source Notes

148 - Enclosure A: A track of the Battle of Midway Composite of All Reports. (CINCPAC Serial 01847, June 28 1942).

149 - Bombing Squadron EIGHT (USS Hornet) Operating under Task Force Sixteen U.S. Pacific Fleet Secret Operation. Declassified NND968133, 4/22, National Archives, College Park, MD.

150 - Ibid.

151 - Commanding Officer, USS Hornet, Serial 0018 of 13 June 1942 Report of Acton 4-6 June 1942.

152 - Commander Stanhope Ring, Letter, dated 28 March 1946, copy in Author's files from Mrs Susan Ring Keith. See also "Lost Letter of Midway", Captain Bruce Linder, USN, USNI Proceedings, August, 1999.

153: Battles of Coral Sea & Midway- Naval Staff History . Battle Summaries Nos. 45946, London, 1952. Chapter VIII, Lessons and Effects of the Battle, page 118. ADM234/371

154: From B.A.D. Washington, Naval Cipher F by Cable to Admiralty, C in C. Eastern Fleet.  See Admiralty Weekly Intelligence Report No.126 dated 7th August 1942. B.A.D. Washington’s 2045Z/30th June, 2357Z/1st July, 1215Z/28th July, 2145Z/31st July 1942.

155 - The PBY piloted by Lieutenant Howard P. Ady, Jr. set three reports, one at 0534 merely stated "Aircraft", while a second, timed 0540 stated "ED (Estimated Distance) 180 sight 320", while a third, timed at 0552 stated "Two carriers and main body of ships, carriers in front, course 135, speed 25."

156- Alexander T. Griffin, A Ship to Remember: The Saga of the Hornet, Howell Soskin, New York, NY, 1943.

157- e-mail, Clayton Fisher to the Author, 01 May 2008 20:55.

158 - Ibid.

159 - Telephone Conversation, Lieutenant Commander W. E. Rodee, USN, to Major Bowen P. Weisheit, USMCR (Ret.), 1981, quoted in The Last Flight of Ensign Markland Kelly, Jr, USNR, Association of Naval Aviation, Inc., Falls Church, Va, 1993. pp 88.

160 - e-mail, Clayton Fisher to the Author, 29 June 2008 19:19.

161 - e-mail, Ronald Russell to the Author, 11 January 2007 20:59.

162 - e-mail, Clayton Fisher to the Author, Tuesday September 09, 2008 3:28 AM

163 - e-mail, Clayton Fisher to the Author, 29 June 2008 19:19.

164 - Symonds, Craig L. The Battle of Midway, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011, pps 259.

165-  Ibid – pps 418.

166 - Midway Dauntless Victory, op cit, Illustration #84.

167 -  Bill Vickrey on BOMRT forum 9 October 2009.

168 - 7 pages, 370/44/19/02 in Box 11 REP0006C.

169 - My emphasis.

170 - Telephone Conversation, Foster to Major Bowen P. Weisheit, USMCR (Ret.) 1981, quoted in The Last Flight of Ensign C. Markland Kelly, Jr, USNR, op cit, pp 53.

171 - e-mail, dated 18 July 2008.

172 - e-mail, dated 9 September 2008.

173 - As logged by Lieutenant V. O. Perkins, USN.

174 - As logged by Lieutenant Commander J. S. Smith, Jr., USN.

175 - As logged by Lieutenant (j.g.) A. H. Hunker, USN.

176 - Major Bowen P. Weisheit, USMCR (Ret.), Last Flight, op cit, pp 50.

177- As logged by Lieutenant (j.g.) A. H. Hunker, USN.

178 - Major Bowen P. Weisheit, USMCR (Ret.), Last Flight, op cit, pp 55.

179 - Stanhope Ring, Letter, op cit.

180 - e-mail, Clayton Fisher to the Author, 29 June 2008 19:19.

181 - Allan Foster Fleming (1912-1987) b. 14 December 1912, Iowa City, Johnson, IA. 1936 Graduated US Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD, Commissioned Ensign. 6 June 1937 - Married Helen MacGregor Gray in Milwaukee, WI. Three children, Allan Foster, Jr., Skye MacGregor and Leslie Mitchell MacGregor. 1939 designated Naval Aviator. 1942 at Midway serving aboard Hornet. At Battle of Santa Cruz, Fleming was severely wounded in the face by bomb shrapnel and was treated aboard a Hospital Ship back at Noumea before returning Stateside for recuperation. 1945-46 Commander US Naval Radar Training School and NAS St. Simons Island, GA. 1946 Staff, Commander 8th Fleet. 1946-1947 2nd Task Fleet. 1948 Graduated Army Artillery School. 1950-1951 Air Development Squadron 4. 1954 Naval War College. 1958-1959 Commanded Seaplane Tender Pine Island (AV-12) in Pacific. 1956-1958 Staff of CinC US Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic & Mediterranean. 1959-1960 commanded carrier Saratoga (CV-60) in Mediterranean. 1962-1964 Deputy Chief Plans, Allied HQ, Malta GC. 1963 Rear Admiral. 1964-1965 Commanding Attack Carrier Striking Force 6th Fleet. CarDiv 4. 1966-1967 Director Strategic Plans Division, OCNO, Washington, DC. 1967-1969 Assistant Deputy Chief Naval Operations (Policy & Plans). 1970-1972 Commander Fleet Air Mediterranean. Commander Anti-submarine warfare forces, 6th Fleet. Commander Maritime Air Mediterranean, NATO. Legion of Merit. Purple Heart. Distinguished Service Medal. d. 21 January 1987, La Jolia, CA. Cremated, ashes spread at sea off Point Loma, San Diego, CA. Incidentally, Fleming's Brother-in-Law, James S. Gray, Jr. was Squadron Commander of VF-6 at Midway.

182 - e-mail, Allan Fleming, Jr., to the Author, 13 August 2008 14:04.

183- Malcolm A. LeCompte, USNR, Radar and the Air Battle of Midway, in Naval History, USNI, Annapolis, MD, Summer 1992 edition.

184 - As recorded by Lieutenant (j.g.) A. H. Hunker, USN.

185 - My emphasis - notice that the mission target is precisely recorded as the enemy ships approaching Midway, and not a search for some nebulous, not as yet located, enemy carriers somewhere to the north.

186 -- Note - not necessarily better, but different.

187 - Lundstrom, Black Shoe Carrier Admiral, op cit, pp 200.

188 - e-mail, Kleiss to the Author (and others) Thursday, August 28, 2008 9:10 PM.

189 - e-mail, Kleiss to the Author, 17 September 2008 01:17.

190 - Ibid.

191 - Lundstrom, Black Shoe Carrier Admiral, op cit, pp 515.

192 - Dodson, Rear-Admiral Oscar Henry (1905-1996). b. Houston, Texas, 3rd January 1905. son of Dennis S. and Margaret Sisk Bounds (nee Sisk). Waco Texas High School. 1923 Appointed to USNA, Annapolis by Senator Tom Connally. Graduated B.S., USNA 1927, commissioned as Ensign. 1927-28 served aboard the battleship New York (BB-34 ), BatDiv 2, Scouting Fleet. 1928- Asiatic Station aboard the destroyer Preble (DD-345) and Edsall (DD-219) then the armoured cruiser Pittsburgh (CA-4 ) Flagship, Asiatic Fleet. 1931 - Torpedo School, Newport, RI. 17 December 1932 married Pauline Wellbrock, one son, John Dennis. 1933 joined American Numismatic Association. 1932-34 served aboard the destroyer Dupont (DD- 152) and Breckenridge (DD-148), then the battleship Idaho (BB-42). 1934-36 US Navy Postgraduate School, Applied Communications course. 1936-40 Communications Officer heavy cruiser Vincennes (CA-44), operating under CNO, Navy Department. 1940 Assistant District Communications Officer, Third Naval District, New York. 1941-42 as Lieutenant-Commander, Communications Officer of carrier Hornet (CV-8) at Midway and Santa Cruz battles. Awarded Silver Star. 1942 transferred to staff of Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid and then Rear Admiral Frederick C. Sherman, aboard carrier Enterprise (CV-6) 1943 - On staff of Rear Admiral Aldred E. Montgomory, CarDiv 2 aboard the carrier Essex (CV-9) Wake, Rabaul and Gilbert ops. 1944 - Staff Communications Officer aboard carrier Bunker Hill (CV-17) Marshalls, Truk, Marianas, Palau, Hollandia, Truk, Marianas Battle of Philippine Sea. 20 March 1945, Captain. XO of light cruiser Topeka (CL-67), TF 38/58 Okinawa and Japanese bombardments. 1945-49 Head of Mobilization Plans, Bureau of Naval Personnel. 1949-50 commanded Attack Transport Thomas Jefferson (APA-30) in Pacific with Military Transportation Service. June 1950-53 Professor Navigation Sciences and Master's Degree Russian History, Urbana, Illinois. 1953-55 Commander Landing Ship Flotilla Two, Atlantic Fleet. 1953 University of Illinois, M.A. 1954-56 Chief, Naval Mission to Greece. 1956-57 CofS First Naval District, Boston, MA. 1957 retired from Navy with rank of Rear-Admiral. Silver Star, three Presidential Unit Citations. 1957-59 Assistant Professor of History, Urbana, Illinois. 1949 American Numismatic Association, (President 1956-60). Fellow Royal Numismatic Society, London. 1959-65 Director Detroit Money Museum, MI. 1966- Director of Classical and European Culture. ANA Farran Zerbe Memorial Award (1068) and ANA Lifetime Achievement Award (1995). d. Urbana, Illinois, 22nd January 1996. Author of Money Tells the Story, 1962, and numerous Numismatic articles.

193 - Stanhope Ring, Letter, op cit.

194 - George Gay, Sole Survivor: The Battle of Midway and the Effect on his Life, Naples Ad/Graphics Services, Naples, Fl. 1979.

195 - Hooked – Tales & Adventures of a Tailhook Warrior; Denver, Co., Outskirts Press, 2008, pp 80]

196 - Midway Dauntless Victory, op cit, pp 75.

197 - CWO Ronald W. Russell, USNR(Ret.), Naval History, USNI Annapolis, MD, July 2008 edition, pp 68.

198 - Commanding Officer, USS Yorktown to Commander-in-Chief US Pacific Fleet. Action Report: USS Yorktown (CV-5) dated 18 June 1942, CV5/A16-3 (CCR-10-oah).

199- Richard Stanislaus Edwards (1885-1956) b. Philadelphia, PA. 18 February 1885. 1896-1903 Episcopal Academy, Philadelphia. U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD. 1903. 1907 Graduated. Commissioned as Ensign 13 September 1908. 1913 As Lieutenant, commanded submarine C-3. 11 August 1914 married Hallie Ninan Snyder. Engineering Officer battleship Kentucky (BB-6). Gunnery Officer battleship Arkansas (BB-21). 1919-1921 Aide to Commander Battleship Squadron One. August 1924-June 1926 commanded destroyer Wood (DD-317). April- September 1931, Aide to CinC U.S. Fleet. 1931-1934 Staff Command & General Staff. 1935 Graduated Naval War College, Newport, RI. 1937-1940 Commanded SubRon 6. Commanded Submarine Base, New London, Con. June-October 1940, Commanded battleship Colorado (BB-45). 1941 Commanded Submarines, Patrol Force. February-December 1941 Commanded Submarines, Atlantic Fleet. May 1941 Rear Admiral. December 1941- October 1944 Deputy CofS. 1942 Vice Admiral. Aide, CinC, U.S. Fleet. 1944-1945 Deputy CinC, U.S. Fleet and Deputy CNO. Distinguished Service Medal. Vice Chief Naval Operations. 1947 Commander Western Sea Frontier. January-July 1947 Commander, Pacific Reserve Fleet. 13 April 1945 Admiral. 1 July 1947 Navy Cross. Retired List. Lived San Francisco, CA. d. Naval Hospital, Oakland, CA 2 June 1956. Destroyer Richard S. Edwards (DD-950) named in his honour.

200 - My emphasis.

201- DOD, DIR.5200.9

202 -They list 35 VSB's and 10 VF's.

203 - Office of Naval Intelligence, The Battle of Midway June 3-6, 1942, Combat Narrative - Observations.

204 - Bill Vickery to the Author, dated Tuesday October 20th 2009.

205 - Vice-Admiral Stewart Ring to the Author, dated September 11th 2009.

206 - Bill Vickery to the Author, dated Tuesday October 20th 2009.

207 – George Gay, Sole Survivor: The Battle of Midway and its effects on his life, pp 117. Naples, Florida. Midway Publishers. 1980.

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