USS Yorktown (CV-5): How a Badly Damaged Carrier Turned the Tides at Midway

On May 8, 1942, the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5) was badly damaged after helping to destroy the Japanese carrier Shoho at the Battle of the Coral Sea. With a gaping hole in her flight deck and her superheater boilers out of commission, Yorktown was expected to be out of action for months—but after just 72 hours of repairs, she was able to participate in the Battle of Midway, where it helped sink two IJN carriers while protecting the other American carriers from aerial counterattack.

In honor of Memorial Day, we’ll take a brief look at the remarkable circumstances around this storied carrier and the exceptional contributions of the heroes who made it happen.

 

The Yorktown: From Humble Beginnings to the Battle of the Coral Sea

Launched in 1936, Yorktown was the lead ship of the new Yorktown-class of carriers, designed to incorporate all the experience and lessons learned from the previous four carriers. She carried 90 aircraft—roughly equivalent to the larger Japanese carriers it would fight against at Midway—and a wartime complement of around 3,000 men.

 

Yorktown in 1937. Photo is from the National Archives, Image # 19-N-17424

 

Following training in Hampton Roads, Virginia, Yorktown conducted her shakedown cruise—or performance test—in the Caribbean. In 1939, she participated in Fleet Problem XX, the Navy’s 20th annual large-scale naval exercises, setting a new benchmark for carrier performance. After a brief period operating along the west coast, Yorktown set out for the Atlantic on April 20, 1941, to protect American interests from a new threat: the U-Boat. Following her neutrality patrols, she put into port at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia on December 2, 1941.

Little did her captain and crew know that in just five days’ time, Imperial Japan would attack Pearl Harbor, killing thousands of Americans and sending the US Navy’s surface fleet of destroyers, battleships and cruisers.

This left Yorktown and the six other carriers—Enterprise, Hornet, Lexington, Wasp, Ranger and Saratoga, none of which were at Pearl Harbor—as the backbone of the US Navy.

With America now at war, Yorktown was recalled to the Pacific and, on December 30, made flagship of Rear Admiral Fletcher’s newly-formed Task Force 17. It wouldn’t be long before she saw her first major action.

Working with superior intelligence, Admiral Chester Nimitz—now Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Fleet—knew that the Japanese Navy intended to attack Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, in the first week of May 1942 in an attempt to strengthen their defensive position in the South Pacific. He issued orders that sent four carriers towards the port to finally put an end to a series of USN defeats. Only Yorktown and USS Lexington (CV-2) would make it there in time.

The American fleet made contact with the numerically-superior IJN fleet—which consisted of fleet carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku (both of which took part in the attack on Pearl Harbor), light carrier Shoho, and a number of support craft—and the two forces traded blows over the course of four days in what would come to be called the Battle of the Coral Sea. This was the first battle in history where two carriers battled toe-to-toe. Losses were heavy.

When the dust settled, both American carriers and all three Japanese carriers had sustained heavy damage or were depleted of aircraft. Lexington and Shoho were scuttled. Shokaku sustained heavy damage to the flight deck (courtesy of Yorktown’s dive bombers) and limped to safety. Zuikaku, her air arm slaughtered, did the same.

Bomb damage on Yorktown’s third and fourth decks, copied from the war damage report, 1942.

 

Damage to Yorktown was significant. Captain Elliott Buckmaster, skilled as he was in maneuvering, could do nothing when a Japanese “Val” dive bomber scored a direct hit. The 550-pound bomb penetrated the deck and exploded below, killing or seriously injuring 66 men and damaging her superheater boilers. The damage looked to be so severe that the Japanese thought she had been sunk. They would soon be proven terribly wrong.

Patchwork Repairs

Following the Battle of the Coral Sea, Yorktown was ordered back to Pearl Harbor ASAP for repairs. Some experts estimated that she would need at least three months of repairs. Admiral Nimitz, understanding the grave urgency of a new threat to a tiny atoll called Midway, gave shipyard workers just three days to get Yorktown back into fighting shape.

One of my favorite accounts of the shipwrights’ struggle comes from Reddit user Limonhed in this thread:

“My late father-in-law was one of the civilian shipwrights flown out to Yorktown after it was damaged at the Coral Sea. He said they worked 24/7 doing what they could, and fell asleep on the deck where they worked. The sailors had orders not to bother a sleeping shipwright unless it was an emergency. They ate sandwiches brought by the sailors while they continued to work. Cutting torch in one hand and sandwich in the other. Sometimes a sailor would stop by and stick a lit cigarette in his mouth while he continued to work. Much of the preparation work for the repairs were finished when they arrived at Pearl. They continued working 24/7 the entire time they were at Pearl and were still on the ship when it sailed. They were flown off only when the fleet got close enough to worry about Japanese attacks. Their efforts cut a week off the repairs and allowed Yorktown to get back in time for the next battle.”

Without the hard work and dedication shown by the yard workers, Yorktown would never have made it to Midway. Her unexpected presence confused the IJN and helped the United States Navy deliver a crushing defeat—and serious payback—to the Japanese fleet.

Yorktown at the Battle of Midway

Armed with knowledge of when and with what ships the enemy planned to ambush Midway (and the two aircraft carriers that constituted the IJN’s real targets), Adm. Nimitz moved the entire Pacific fleet to Midway to set an ambush of his own.

The Yorktown was a lynchpin in this regard. The already-outnumbered US Navy could not make up the difference in operational aircraft—not to mention that the Yorktown was the only carrier with experience launching a full strike.

Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown would face off against Soryu, Hiryu, Akagi and Kaga in a battle that turned the tide of war in the Pacific.

Japan began its initial attack on Midway Island at 4:30am on June 4, intent on destroying the land-based aircraft. It was repulsed thanks to stiff resistance from American forces. Neither navy had located the other until 5:34am, when a PBY seaplane from Midway Island finally spotted the Japanese fleet. Admiral Fletcher ordered the launch of aircraft from Enterprise and Hornet starting at 7:00am.

LCDR Max Leslie ditches in the ocean

The first wave was a disaster from the get-go. While Japan was able to launch 108 aircraft in just seven minutes, it took Enterprise and Hornet over an hour to launch 117 aircraft. It’s odd to think of the USA as underdogs in any capacity, let alone war, but that’s exactly the case.

And Japan’s advantage reached far beyond coordination and training. The American Navy was still using the TPD Devastator torpedo bomber, a woefully outmoded aircraft that was totally outclassed by Japan’s Zero fighters. Of the 41 Devastators that sortied during Midway, not a single one produced a torpedo hit, and only six returned. And even if one of the Devastators HAD registered a hit, there’s a good chance that the poorly-manufactured Mark 13 Torpedoes would not have detonated.

Yorktown’s pilots, who had been held back from the initial launch in case other Japanese carriers were found, were given a harrowing briefing: “If only three out of your 12-plane squadron survive the run-in to deliver your torpedoes, your mission will have been a success.” Yorktown’s aircraft launched at 9:08am.

But just when the future of the US Pacific fleet began to look grim, the battle turned on a dime.

It just so happened that three squadrons of Douglas SBD Scout Bombers (a fine aircraft, not to be confused with the TBD Devastator) were approaching the Japanese fleet. Two of the three were short on fuel, and none of them knew exactly where the fleet was.

It was then that Enterprise Air Group Commander C. Wade McClusky, dangerously low on fuel, made one of the most fortuitous decisions in the war. Instead of turning back, he kept looking for the enemy carriers, and he just so happened to locate a lone Japanese destroyer traveling at flank speed. Acting on a hunch, he followed it…all the way to the Japanese carriers, now short on defense.

The three squadrons descended on the carriers like a swarm of locusts. Yorktown’s VB-3, commanded by Max Leslie, went for Soryu, battering it with three direct hits.

Enterprise’s squadrons split into two and took on Akagi and Kaga, scoring multiple direct hits.

Within six minutes, Soryu and Kaga were totally engulfed stem to stern. Although Akagi was hit by just one bomb, it exploded in the hangar, causing massive devastation and leaving it dead in the water. Just like that, a good portion of Imperial Japan’s mighty Pacific fleet was reduced to burning husks, leaving just the Hiryu.

Crewmen repair a 12′ diameter bomb hole on Yorktown’s deck. At this point, this kind of damage was mundane. She would be back in action shortly.

 

But it wasn’t all good news. Japanese bombers from Hiryu followed the retreating American aircraft and attacked the first carrier they found…which just so happened to be Yorktown. Japanese pilots managed to score three hits, blowing a hole in the deck and snuffing out her boilers. But American damage control and ship survivability were far beyond that of the IJN, and within just one hour, she was patched up and ready to go again.

The second wave of Hiryu torpedo bombers arrived another hour later. The repair efforts were so effective that the Japanese pilots assumed Yorktown must be a different, undamaged carrier. Again, they battered her, this time with two torpedoes. Yorktown lost all power and began to list…but she still didn’t sink.

 

Yorktown lists badly after being abandoned. Official US Navy Photograph.

 

Captain Buckmaster, having heard the reports about how quickly the Japanese carriers sank, gave the order to abandon ship. The wounded were offloaded first, followed by the able-bodied sailors, all in good order. Captain Buckmaster even walked the ship one final time to make sure nobody remained onboard, and when he found none, lowered himself into the water by means of a knotted line over the stern.

But this was a day of retribution, and later in the afternoon, a scout aircraft from Yorktown found the Hiryu. 24 dive bombers from Enterprise and Yorktown descended on the Japanese carrier, peppering it with four bombs. She went up in flames just like the other Japanese carriers had earlier in the day. Lieutenant Commander Dick Best, who has the unique distinction of landing bombs on two different carriers, recalls the feeling:

 

“I felt myself to be lord of creation of the time. The feeling of success and the fulfillment of revenge was so sweet that I’ve never felt anything as intensely as that in all my life.”

 

All four of Japan’s carriers were now at the bottom of the Pacific. The US Navy delivered a decisive blow, and Japan was never able to replace its most-skilled pilots and best aircraft fast enough. The war was far from over, but the tide had turned.

 

Yorktown finally succumbs

Believe it or not, after six major detonations—one at Coral Sea and five at Midway—Yorktown was still afloat, and the salvage effort was going well…until a Japanese sub snuck past the American destroyer line and fired a torpedo that hit the USS Hamann, a destroyer acting as tow/escort ship. The Hamann essentially broke in half and sank quickly, killing the 81 men aboard and others from Yorktown who has been blown overboard. Understandably, the other tow ship cut the cable to Yorktown, and the battered carrier finally fell beneath the waves the following morning.

 

Yorktown sinking, June 7th 1942. Courtesy of the Naval History & Heritage Command NH #106011.

 

“That’s alright, fellas,” Captain Buckmaster told his men. “We’ll get another ship and come out again.”

By the time the first shots were fired at Midway, Yorktown was already nearly half a year overdue for a major refit. The emergency repairs performed at Pearl Harbor were intended to keep her seaworthy for two or three weeks. She had been nearly blown to bits over the course of two major battles. And still, she gave more: her last great contribution was soaking up a Japanese counterattack that could easily have been aimed at one of the healthy carriers.

The truth is, the Japanese had to sink her three times before it finally “took.”

Here’s to the Heroes Who Made Yorktown Great

Despite her toughness, resilience, and valiant contribution to the war In the Pacific, Yorktown was still just a ship. Yorktown only achieved greatness because of the heroes who made her great.

On this Memorial Day, we honor them all. First and foremost, to the 207 Yorktown crewmembers who died in the Battles of Coral Sea and Midway. And to her crew, who put our fires, patched her up, and carried on in the face of constant duress. And to the Devastator torpedo bomber pilots who knew they wouldn’t make it back. To the Dauntless scout bomber pilots who directly contributed to the sinking of three Japanese aircraft carriers. To the shipyard workers at Pearl Harbor, who did the impossible. And, of course, to the savvy leadership of Capt. Buckmaster, Admiral Spruance, Admiral Fletcher and Admiral Nimitz..

Today, we honor those brave men, as we honor so many others for their sacrifices in serving our great nation. I’d like to offer a heartfelt thank you to all those who serve and have served.

Just one more note…I’ve never served, and as hard as I have tried to get my terminology correct and not be disrespectful, I admit that I may have made a misstep. Please feel free to correct me. – Thanks

Notes:

  • It’s unfortunate that by focusing on Yorktown, the contributions of Enterprise and Hornet, and of the ground forces on Midway, are implicitly minimized. This is not the case. The USS Hornet launched the Doolittle Raid and participated in both Guadalcanal and the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, USS Enterprise ended the war as the Navy’s most decorated ship, and the Marines stationed on Midway Island put up a hell of a fight and never flinched.
  • You can’t talk about the Navy’s intelligence operations without mentioning Joseph Rochefort. Rochefort not only helped to break Japanese code JN25, but was the only cryptanalyst to correctly surmise that “AF” was Japan’s code for Midway (others thought it was code for the Aleutian Islands or even the West Coast). In order to convince his superiors, he devised a plan: the garrison commander on Midway would radio an emergency request for water in “plain language.” Japan took the bait, transmitting a message that “AF” was out of water.
  • I tried my best to avoid the historical controversy around what happened when the three American bomber squadrons converged over the Japanese carriers. Much of our prior understanding of that event came from the writings of Japanese pilot Mitsuo Fuchida, who characterized the timing as something of a miracle. Parshall and Tully’s “Shattered Sword,” along with official Japanese publication of the war history, refuted many of Fuchida’s claims.“Shattered Sword” is excellent and I would recommend it to everyone interested in the subject.
  • If that Japanese submarine hadn’t snuck through the defensive perimeter and attacked the USS Hamann, there’s a very good chance Yorktown would’ve made it back to Pearl Harbor. Very generally speaking, American design favored survivability, while Japanese design favored speed and hitting power. For a navy that couldn’t replace pilots and materiel fast enough, this was a fatal decision.
  • Interestingly, of the 17 ships lost or damaged in the Attack On Pearl Harbor, 14 were repaired and returned to service. Additionally, Japan made a huge mistake by not targeting Pearl Harbor’s fuel storage and dry dock facilities.
  • As Lexington slowly sank after Coral Sea, her crew abandoned ship—but not before breaking into the freezer and eating all the ice cream. Sailors dipper their helmets into the ice cream and licked them clean before leaving.

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38 Responses to “USS Yorktown (CV-5): How a Badly Damaged Carrier Turned the Tides at Midway”

  1. Robt W Bennett

    Thank you for including this today. Great story & well-written.

    Reply
  2. William biggerstaff

    I enjoyed reading this, Thank you for posting. My grandfather was on this ship at Midway. I remember him telling me stories about this. He passed away about 22 years ago, due to cancer. He was a great and Godly man. I’d like to thank all of the past American hero’s that have gave it there all. You where truly America’s greatest generation.

    Reply
  3. Ken Parlatore

    Thank you! As a Navy veteran of the Vietnam war, I’m thankful and grateful that someone such as yourself took the time to let the next generation of Americans know about a war from our past that produced such great American heroes….Thank you again, and may God bless our great country!

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Bryan

      Thanks for your comment, Ken. I appreciate all kinds of positive feedback, but it’s especially rewarding when it comes from those who have served.

      Reply
  4. John McClain

    This was perhaps the single most uplifting pair of battles that assured America we weren’t going to fall to a long preparing, determined Axis.
    One of the most important decisions made in those first days, was assigning Admiral Nimitz to command the Pacific Fleet.
    When he arrived by plane, at Pearl Harbor, he had “All Hands” gather, after he’d done a thorough reconnoitering of the whole of the Island of Oahu.
    Standing before a somewhat demoralized Fleet of Navy and Marines, he checked off four things the Japanese did which ensured their attack was a complete failure. Up to then, every assessment had been negative, but Admiral Nimitz stood before those who would go on to these two battles, and stated, “the Japanese didn’t even bother to consider our culture and practices, and in attacking on Sunday, at 0700, ten percent of crews were aboard their ships, with the vast majority in Chapel, so while great, the loss of personnel, was not by any means incapacitating, but have made us determined. Secondly, the two dry docks, here at Pearl, were scheduled to be filled and closed, but we will put these ships back together, because we have the capability right here and now, the ships in the Harbor will sail again. Third, the Japanese expected our carriers to be here, and they weren’t, so their main target was missing, and a great disappointment. Lastly, all the Pacific Fleet’s fuel oil is stored in those tanks you see up on the hills, and not one of them was struck, had they targeted them specifically, they could have picked us off at their leisure, in the following weeks, but they didn’t have the intelligence.
    We could have been set back six months to a year, and forced to capitulate, but instead, we will be back at sea in days, and at full strength in weeks, God was watching over us and we must live up to this miracle which has saved us from what could have been completely devastating to our whole pacific fleet.”
    That’s not exactly a quote, but a fair representation of Admiral Nimitz’ comments that spurred the heroes into action, and truly turned the whole of “Pearl Harbor, the attack” completely around, and made way for the extraordinary return we got, establishing how the Pacific war would go, from then on. Despondency left that morning, and was replaced by hard edged resolve and a determined people.
    Semper Fidelis,
    John McClain
    GySgt, USMC, ret.
    Vanceboro, NC

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Bryan

      Great comment! Thanks for taking the time to read and leave a reply, John. I appreciate it.

      I only gained respect for Admiral Nimitz the deeper I got into my research. He made good call after good call, starting with his uniquely positive outlook on Pearl Harbor. If I recall correctly, Adm. Nimitz also retained Adm. Kimmel’s staff after Kimmel was removed from command following the attack. This decision energized his staff and inspired the sailors.

      Not sure if the details are 100%, but regardless, this was a great man.

      Reply
  5. william messbarger

    This is why we stand . Thanks to all the vets . thanks for serving.

    Reply
  6. John Sullivan

    The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) intended to seize Port Moresby, New Guinea. If they had succeeded, Australia and shipping lanes between the USA would have been seriously emperiled. MacArthur was still marshaling Commonwealth and US offensive resources in Australia and the USN’s victory at Midway afforded the Commander (MacArthur) of the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA) the opportunity to mount a coordinated offensive with the USN which eventually evolved into the successful island-hopping campaign.

    Reply
  7. Mr. TerryLee Shepherd, Naval Airman, Vet!

    I served in 1969! In The CPO, Quarters!

    Reply
  8. Ron R

    The Greatest Generation was surely THE GREATEST!
    I hope all the Sportsman’s folk read about this heroic sacrifice and pass it along!s

    Reply
  9. art

    Excellent article. Thank you. More history, especially military history, would be very useful to educate the public. Too few appreciate that with out the military we could not enjoy the wonderful privileges we so often take for granted. To barrow and paraphrase Winston Churchill “American democracy is the worst form of government, except for every other form” We should value and appreciate what we have

    Reply
  10. Steve Rogan

    Thank you for including this today. My grandfather was on three different carriers in the Pacific, with the Yorktown being his first. He was at Coral Sea and Midway. He rarely talked about the war, but he loved that ship.

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Bryan

      Thanks for reading, Steve!

      I’ve heard and read many stories like your grandfather’s. Yorktown was special, and she seemed to inspire a special kind of adoration in people.

      Reply
  11. Frank Muller

    Thanks for showing the bravery and patriotism of Americans during a time of war. The bravery of our soldiers is what made the USA the great country that it is today.
    Thanks for posting this.

    Reply
  12. Jerry Morris

    For more info concerning another great carrier that served in the Pacific Theater check out http://www.cv6.org .This site has the history of the USS Enterprise (CV-6), Yorktowns sister ship. Be sure to check out the de-classified after action reports to fully understand the demanding efforts of carrier ops during WWII.

    Reply
  13. Joseph Burke

    As the great nephew of Admiral Arleigh Burke this article makes me PROUD TO BE AND AMERICAN and the descendant of such fine American fighting men. – Joe Burke

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Bryan

      Well this is quite the honor! Your great uncle was a great man whose name won’t be forgotten.

      Were you able to see or tour the USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51), by chance?

      Reply
    • Alan Glimpse

      Joe Burke, I worked with a man named Jimmy Burke when I was stationed on the Kitty Hawk in the early 80’s. This was up in Bremerton, Wa. I worked with him at various times before the ship was sent back to San Diego. He told us about being related to ADM Burke on the same day he was to have lunch with the Commanding Officer of the Kitty Hawk. The biggest reason I still remember Jimmy after all these years, is he was one of the nicest people I met up there.

      Reply
  14. Larry manuel

    I served on the Valley Forge (lph 8) during VietNam. We had a helio crash on the flight deck and burn

    a large hole in the deck. I can’t imagine what the men on the Yorktown endured.

    Reply
    • James Dyer

      I was on the Valley Forge when that happened Larry. Was in V-4 division working in av-fuels repair when that helo blew up. Shook the whole ship. Was on the hanger deck when this occurred.

      Reply
  15. Bruce Clark

    During WW 2 my dad fought in both the battles of Midway and Coral Sea while in the Navy. He was stationed on a Destroyer Escort.

    Reply
  16. Mike Yerby

    The bravery of our sailors and fighting men and women have never ceased to amaze me in all my 64 years. We all owe an unpayable debt to these fine men and women! I enjoy reading over and over about the history of our Great Nation, The United States of America!

    Reply
  17. Gerald Ross

    I served in Viet Nam era. There are over 56 thousand names on a wall in DC Memorial Plaza. These great men served and gave the ultimate and as we remember all those who served least we not forget them. God Bless America.

    Reply
  18. dale wells

    I can only think of the sacaravices the people on the home front made to defeat enemys on both shores but none grater than our grand fathers,fathers and yes our grand mothers and mothers.aunts .uncles ,brothers and sisters and to some it all of the GRATIST GENERATION !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!GOD BLESS THEM ALL,Dale Wells

    Reply
  19. Jim Morrell

    A great story. My close uncle was a Gunnersmate aboard the USS Langley, CVL 27 for its entire tour of the Pacific War. I have always been interested in the Naval war in the Pacific. This is one of the more interesting stories. The Langley, followiing the war, was “loaned to France, and later returned to the US and cut up for scrp.

    Reply
    • Hopper Eldridge

      Vet here too, but as another story about the “Greatest Generation” and the fantastic carriers of WWII that they fought, and died on, is the story of the USS Franklin, CV-13. It’s another of our carriers that refused to die though beaten to pieces and all but sinking yet still made it back to the West Coast for repairs.

      Look her up and read about her story, really make one proud of the US and her fighting forces.

      Reply
      • david eide

        Thanks for remembering the ‘Franklin-CV-13’. My dad was a pilot on that fateful day,
        his airplane was ready for takeoff that morning and was placed on the last row extreme aft,
        starboard side. One of the bombs landed a few rows in front of his running plane. He has told me of watching some pilots in front of his plane,exiting their aircraft and running,only to be hit buy running propellors.of other aircraft.He has quite a story of survival that day and I have made it my life’s mission to tell anyone who will listen his remarkable story of survival. May God bless all who have served,are serving in any and all branches.Thank-You for doing a great and sometimes forgotten job.. WE ARE FREE and will remain so!
        CT!1 Dave Eide (disabled ret.)

        Reply
  20. Terry Grant

    Thank you for this important reminder of history. Our sailors of “The Greatest Generation” showed us what “Guts” means. They fought under conditions that would overwhelm todays young people. God Bless those heroes, we owe them the freedom and prosperity we enjoy today.

    Reply
  21. William Lindewirth

    My Friend G. Laughery was a PBY PPILOT looking for Enemy Carriers. Far out and low on fuel He was one of the PBY PILOTS that reported whst they thought was the Main Japanses Garrier Group. Without these unarmed Recon Planes we may have lost mire. Thanks Gene. I remember.

    Reply
  22. ANTHONY FRANK TENCZA ABH_3

    Serving on the USS Midway (CVA-41) ’65-’66 and USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31) ’66-’67 I can relate to the problems the earlier carriers had. I worked on the flight deck in Fly 1 which which is from the island to the bow. I seen accidents and crashes there so I can relate to what happened during WWII. The carriers that I was on were rebuilt and updated WWII carriers, wooden decks and all. My heart goes out to all the servicemen that were lost during WWII. My father was on the USS Nevada (BB-) during WWII.He would tell me stories about being attacked. I’m glad he made it home.

    Reply
  23. John Palen

    Two minor points for you, Port Moresby is in Papua New Guinea, not New Zealand. And the last bullet in the notes section said that the crew of the Lex broke into the ships freezers and finishing off the ice cream, …”Soldiers dipped their helmets…”. Having served in both the Army and the Navy, I believe that you meant to say that the Sailors dipped their helmets into the ice cream, not soldiers, (but if there had been any on board, I’d bet they’d be right there also). Like I said, very minor points, and in no way does it detract from the story. Thanks for writing it.

    John Palen
    Formerly Sgt, US Army Infantry (11B)
    Formerly MM1(SS) US Navy

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Bryan

      Ha, I knew I’d slip up somewhere! Fixing it now.

      Thanks for reading (and editing)!

      Reply
  24. James Stark

    Thanks for this great atricle, very imformative. I forwarded the web addy to some Navy vets, I know. They also enjoyed it.

    My father served in the Navy on Midway, the last 2 yrs of WW2. He said, he worked on sea going tugs and mine sweepers.

    My self I served 3 yrs Army. 2 tours in ‘Nam. It was a joint service special ops’ duty, with MACV-SOG. As many others, I also have brothers in arms to remember.

    God Bless the USA…..

    Reply
  25. JACK PRIEST

    THIS DEAR FRIEND IS ONE OF THE MILLIONS OF OUR WONDERFUL MILITARY. HE WAS ON THE USS YORKTOWN, CV-5, WHEN IT WAS SUNK DURING THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY IN WWII IN JUNE 1942. HE WAS A RETIRED CAPTAIN IN THE UNITED STATES NAVY.
    dignitymemorial.com
    William Lee Howard Obituary – HUNTSVILLE, AL
    Celebrate the life of William Lee Howard, leave a kind word or memory…

    Reply
  26. Jeff Schanbacher

    My father was on the Yorktown starting on the East Coast, July 1941. He was with it until it sunk at Midway. He was originally assigned to Squadron 5 as a gunner, but, fortunately, they found he was good at typing and moved him to staff. If he had remained a dive bomber, I would probably not be here today.
    I still have the original insignia from the squadron and the fighter list for June 4 and I hope to pass those along to some military museum or collector at some point.
    Interestingly, they did not notify the public of the loss of the Yorktown until September. Couldn’t do that now.
    Oh, and when they brought the Yorktown to the Pacific in late 1941, they changed the numbers on the ship while it went through the Panama Canal to confuse the enemy.
    Thanks for the article (video is no longer available apparently).

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Bryan

      Thanks for reading!

      The dive bomber squadrons, as you well know, fared poorly at Midway, and it’s very fortunate that your grandfather didn’t have to be a part of it. Those TBD Devastators were sitting ducks.

      Thanks for the anecdote about the Panama Canal. There’s still so much to be learned! The US and her allies did an excellent job with subterfuge and misinformation during the war.

      And thanks for the heads-up about the video.

      Reply