Bottom row: G.M. CAMPBELL, W.W. ABERCROMBIE, H. R. KENYON JR., G. H. GAY
Bottom left: H. J. ELLISON, J. C. WOODSON, W.W. CREAMER, R. B. MILES
"... Fifteen torpedo planes from this group, therefore, located the enemy to the westward and proceeded to attack at once without protection or assistance of any kind. Although some bits were reported by radio from these airplanes and although some enemy fighters were shot down, the total damage inflicted by this squadron in this attack may never be known. None of these 15 planes returned. The sole survivor of the 30 officers and men of this squadron was Ensign G. H. Gay Jr., U.S.N.R., who scored one torpedo hit on an enemy carrier before he was shot down."
Thus, in Communique No. 97, the U.S. Navy wrote the terse official epitaph of Torpedo Squadron 8. That might have been all that the world ever knew, were it not for the one young officer who survived. Ensign Gay, saved by some whim of fate while all his comrades perished, has come back to tell a story of sacrifice and gallantry that deserves to live forever in American history.
The actual achievement of Torpedo Squadron 8, in a military sense, was important but not crucial. It took place on the second day of the Battle of Midway, when the Japanese attacking force was still almost intact. Squadron 8 found the Japanese force, which had been lost for several hours, recklessly attacked one of the enemy carriers and disrupted the whole force for the dive bombers which delivered their attack a few minutes later.
The real importance of the story of Torpedo Squadron 8 is not the damage it did to a Japanese carrier but the reckless heroism with which it carried out its mission. It is a story of a veteran U.S. Navy pilot who welded a group of relative youngsters from the four corners of his country into a fighting unit to defend it, in a time that was all too short and under conditions that were none too favorable. It is the story of young Americans, brought up in a world of peace and safety, who sought the danger of battle and, when they found it, flew unflinching into what they knew must be for most of them certain death. This is the story that Ensign Gay has to tell. It is at once an inspiration to all America and eloquent proof that American manhood has the stuff of which heroes are made and victories won.
The story to be continued in seven future parts.
Gunz Up will make it a tradition to continue with the history of other battles and wars. Their stories truly must be told over and over again. And when I am gone, I hope someone will continue to tell the stories of my own son's war and battles. I will share those as well, as much as I can based on the knowledge of a mother back home. We will share as much as possible about my forever hero, though it may take a while to get there in 'Blood Is Thicker Than Water.'
And speaking of blood, I need to get to the hospital to see mine! Have a great day.
Life August 31, 1942