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FLIGHT LINE

Midway's VT-8 Sole Survivor?

1st Sarasota Midway Memorial Day Remembrance in Sarasota, FL, 21 JUN 2002, and a Presentation to - VAQ-137/VAQ-1 on 29 MAY 2002 in Widbey Island, WA

Speechs by CAPT Albert K.. Earnest, USN-RET, and CDR Harry Ferrier, USN-RET
 
Earnest's speech as reported by Joel Jacobs. Ferrier's are from his personal notes.

LTJG Albert K. "Bert" Earnest
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Summer, 1943, Ream Field, San Isidro, CA

 "The USS Hornet, CV 8, sailed on March 1, 1942, for the Pacific Theater of Operations. At that time, I only had about 200 hours of flight time. About one half the pilots of Torpedo 8 were left behind in Norfolk to accept delivery of the new TBF Avenger torpedo bombers, while the ship carried the remaining Air Group 8 crews, which included the older TBD Devastator torpedo bombers, to the war zone. I was one of the pilots left behind to ready the TBF's. The new plane was almost as fast as a fighter. It carried a pilot and a crew of a turret gunner-radioman, and a tunnel gunner. It could launch its torpedoes at 200 knots rather than the 100 knots of the Devastator. We flew them cross country to Alameda, CA, and then to San Francisco where they were
loaded on the sea-land transport Hammondsport for delivery to Pearl Harbor. We went by a Navy transport, and when the Hammondsport arrived, we took the first six that were off-loaded and prepared them for a flight to Midway.

From Pearl Harbor, it is a 1200 mile open water flight to Midway Island. This was by far the longest flight I had ever made outside of sight of land. We were assigned two PBY Catalina pilots to act as navigators. One flew in each of the two three plane sections of TBF's  that made up our flight. When we got to Midway on June 1st, we saw quite a few B-17 Flying Fortresses, many F4F Wildcats, some B-26 Marauder bombers with torpedoes, and the Marines had about 20 Brewster Buffalo's. The Brewsters were not very good at altitude, and were at a disadvantage. There were also a large group of PBY-5 Catalinas here. Some were amphibians, the 5 A and some could only take off and land on the water, the - 5.

Early each morning, we sat in the cockpits of our TBF's waiting for the search planes to see something. Finally, on June 3rd, a PBY Catalina saw the forward component of the Japanese force coming from the northwest. None of their carriers were sighted. We knew the Japs had four carriers out there, Hiryu, Akagi, Soryu and Kaga. On June 4th, as I was walking to my plane, I picked up a $2 bill that was laying on the runway, and put it in my bill fold as a good luck omen. It is still there today. Shortly thereafter, another PBY spotted the Jap carriers bearing 320 degrees from Midway. We were immediately given orders to launch.. We also were told that all our carriers were back defending the Hawaiian Islands, and that the planes stationed here were Midway's sole defense.

Five minutes out from Midway, my turret gunner Jay Manning could see signs of bombing back at the island. As we neared our targets, we were jumped by about 20 Zero's. Cannon shells and machine gun bullets tore into our plane immediately killing the top turret gunner Manning. There was blood every where. Harry Ferrier, at the tunnel gun, felt blood dripping on him, and when he looked up into a red haze saw that Manning was dead.

Our flight of six dropped to 200 feet, and made for the carriers that we could see in the distance. Just as we were doing this, the control cables to the elevator were shot away so I decided to go after a nearby cruiser. As I kicked the plane around and turned toward it, cannon shells were dancing on my wings. A piece of shell fragment hit me in my right cheek. I started to bleed. The gyro compass was shot-up and I lost it and its repeater so I was without a compass. The stick went limp in my hands, and I began to sweat. With Japs buzzing around, and a fighter on my six, continuing to shower us with shells, I started my attack. I opened my bombay doors and got ready to release my torpedo. Simultaneously, I lost my hydraulics, and the tail wheel dropped down so the tunnel gun became partially blocked. Then Ferrier got hit too, and was out of the battle. Before our plane was out of the fight because it was difficult to control and was losing altitude, I released the torpedo.

As we  continued to sink toward the water, I prepared for ditching. As I approached the water, I started to roll in up elevator trim as I would in a normal landing. The plane shot up and started to gain altitude. If I'd been a more experienced pilot, I only had about 400 hours by then, I would have anticipated  this reaction, and tried to fly the plane by elevator trim as soon as the stick went limp.  As I gained altitude, I was jumped by two other fighters. I used every evasive maneuver of I could think of. There were some B-26's in the area, and finally the Jap planes left for no apparent reason. Maybe they got called back, were out of ammo, short of fuel or distracted by the Marauders. In any event, I was happy  they were gone. The silence over the roaring of my engine was startling. No sound of cannon or machine gun fire. No bing, bing, bing.

I now couldn't see anything between the Jap fleet and where Midway should be. The Jap fleet was steaming as before. Everything looked normal. There were no planes, none even in the water. It appeared as if there were no damaged or sinking ships. Without a compass,, all I had was the Sun which was still low in the East. I first flew South to clear the area, and then I headed east towards where I thought Midway was located. I gained altitude to get over some cloud cover looking for Midway. I spotted the small island of Kure off in the distance, and made for it. Harry Ferrier, the tunnel gunner regained consciousness. I asked him to see if the torpedo had been launched. He couldn't tell because the window was all covered with blood. Shortly, I could see smoke rising from Midway which appeared to be 40 to 50  miles away. I adjusted my course and turned for it. We were flying slowly because there was no way  to close our bombay doors or retract the tail wheel. We were badly shot up. Later I would find out that our plane had seventy holes in it.

As we approached Midway, we did the approved recognition turns to identify us as a friendly. I put the gear lever in the down position, but only the left wheel came down. I did some pull ups to try and shake the other wheel down, but was afraid to pull too many "G's" for fear of shaking something more important off the plane. I made two approaches, and got waived off both times. They may have thought we still had our torpedo. There were two wrecked B-26's on the runway. I said to hell with it, and brought her in. The plane touched down fine, and as it lost airspeed the right wing dropped and we gently turned off the runway. I sat in the cockpit somewhat stunned at being there without any of our other Torpedo 8 planes around. I thought I was going to get hell for pulling out of formation. It hit me, that we were the only one of our flight of six to have made it back. Then some planes from the Hornet, from VB-8, started to land. They were short of fuel and came here instead of going back to the ship. I realized we did have carriers out there.

There is one more widely known surviving VT-8 pilot George Gay (since deceased) who was part of the group who stayed with the Hornet. He was shot down, and saw the Battle of Midway from the water. Many think he was Torpedo 8's sole survivor. In fact Gay wrote a book titled "Sole Survivor". If I ever get  around to writing my book on Midway, I intend to title it the "Other Sole Survivor". Because Gay was rescued from the water, and could give a first hand account of the battle, he was sent home to-do a War Bond Tour. With some of my squadronmates, I was sent to Guadalcanal to continue the fight, which is another story."

ENS Earnest was the recipient of the Navy Cross, a gold star in lieu of a second Navy Cross, and the Purple Heart Medal for his actions on 4 JUN 1942.eart Medal foris actions on 4 JUN 1942.
 
Any errors in the above are those of Joel Jacobs, the reporter.
 
HISTORIC BACKGROUND:
 
June 3-6--The Battle of Midway--A strong Japanese thrust in the Central Pacific to occupy Midway Island, was led by a four- carrier Mobile Force, supported by heavy units of the Main Body (First Fleet) and covered by a diversionary carrier raid on Dutch Harbor in the Aleutians. This attack was met by a greatly outnumbered United States carrier force composed of Task Force 17 (Rear Admiral F. J. Fletcher) with Yorktown, and Task Force 16 (Rear Admiral R. A. Spruance) with Hornet and Enterprise, and by Navy, Marine Corps, and Army air units based on Midway. Planes from Midway located and attacked ships of the Japanese Occupation Force 600 miles to the west (3 June), and of the mobile Force (4 June) as it sent its aircraft against defensive installations on Midway. Concentrating on the destruction of Midway air forces and diverted by their torpedo, horizontal, and dive bombing attacks, the Japanese carriers were caught unprepared for the carrier air attack which began at 0930 with the heroic but unsuccessful effort of Torpedo Squadron 8, and were hit in full force at 1030 when dive bombers hit and sank the carriers Akagi, Kaga, and Soryu. A Japanese counter attack at noon and another 2 hours later, damaged Yorktown with bombs and torpedoes so severely that she was abandoned. In the late afternoon, U.S. carrier air hit the Mobile Force again, sinking Hiryu, the fourth and last of the Japanese carriers in action. With control of the air irretrievably lost, the Japanese retired under the attack of Midway-based aircraft (5 June) and of carrier air (6 June) in which the heavy cruiser Mikuma was sunk and the Mogami severely damaged. Japanese losses totaled two heavy and two light carriers, one heavy cruiser, 258 aircraft, and a large percentage of their experienced carrier pilots. United States losses were 40 shore-based and 92 carrier aircraft, the destroyer Hammann and the carrier the Yorktown, which sank 6 and 7 June respectively, the result of a single submarine attack. The decisive defeat administered to the Japanese put an end to their successful offensive and effectively turned the tide of the Pacific War.
 
June 3 --The TBF Grumman Avenger flown by pilots of a shore-based element of Torpedo Squadron 8, began its combat career with attacks on the Japanese Fleet during the Battle of Midway.

Radioman-Gunner Harry Ferrier
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Midway, 1942

I WANT TO ESTABLISH THE HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE FOR MY APPEARANCE HERE TODAY. FIRST OFF ID BE SURPRISED IF ANY OF YOU WERE BORN WHEN JAPAN ATTACKED THE U.S. NAVY AT PEARL HARBOR ON DECEMBER 7, 1941.. THAT DAY THE U.S. NAVY LOST THE USE OF EVERY BATTLESHIP IN THE PACIFIC. AND BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD WE WOULD HAVE LOST PART OF OUR AIRCRAFT CARRIER FORCE, TOO. THIS WAS CERTAINLY A LOW POINT FOR THE U.S. NAVY AND OUR NATION.

THE NATION DID MOBILIZE, AND MY SQUADRON, TORPEDO SQUADRON EIGHT AND OUR SHIP HORNET, WERE AT SEA IN JANUARY 42. THIS WAS THE SHIPS FIRST SHAKEDOWN CRUISE.

TO BACK UP AND GIVE YOU A LITTLE OF MY HISTORY - I ENLISTED IN THE NAVY ON JANUARY 28, 1941, THREE DAYS AFTER MY SIXTEENTH BIRTH DAY. MY MOTHER HAD HELPED TO FALSIFY MY BIRTH CERTIFICATE SO I COULD GET IN EVEN THOUGH THE LEGAL AGE FOR ENLISTMENT WAS SEVENTEEN. MY CAREER STARTED AS A $21 A MONTH APPRENTICE SEAMAN.

AFTER BOOT CAMP AND AVIATION RADIO SCHOOL, I VOLUNTEERED FOR VT-8, WHICH WAS FORMING AS PART OF THE AIR GROUP FOR THE NEW CARRIER HORNET, CV-8. WE WERE FLYING TBD-1 AIRCRAFT. IN FEB.42 WHILE ON OUR SHAKEDOWN I WAS PROMOTED TO RM3/C.

THE SQUADRON WAS SELECTED TO RECEIVE THE FIRST OF THE NEW GRUMMAN TBF-1 AIRCRAFT (LATER TO BE KNOWN AS THE "AVENGER"). BUT SINCE HORNET HAD IMMEDIATE ORDERS TO THE PACIFIC, OUR SQUADRON WAS DIVIDED AND A SMALL DETACHMENT REMAINED IN NORFOLK TO RECEIVE THE NEW AIRPLANES. I WAS ASSIGNED TO THE DETACHMENT. THE PLANES STARTED ARRIVING IN MAR 42 AND WE WERE THEN BUSY IN AN INTENSIVE TRAINING PROGRAM. THERE WAS NO SUCH THING AS A RAG OR TRAINING OUTFIT. MY INTRODUCTION TO THE AIRPLANES EQUIPMENT WAS AT THE GRUMMAN FACTORY ON LONG ISLAND. THE TBF HAD ONE RECEIVER AND ONE TRANSMITTER, WHICH THE RADIOMAN HAD TO TUNE MANUALLY BY USING A CRYSTAL CONTROLLED OSCILLATOR. THERE WAS ALSO A MANUALLY TUNED DIRECTION FINDER. THATS IT!

IN MID MAY, AFTER INTENSIVE TRAINING WE WERE ORDERED TO FLY THE NEW PLANES TO CALIF. AND, SURFACE TRANSPORTION TO HAWAII. WE ARRIVED ON MAY 28TH. HORNET WITH OUR MAIN SQUADRON HAD SAILED THE DAY BEFORE.

MEANWHILE BACK AT THE WAR, ON APRIL 18, 1942 OUR CARRIER HORNET, WITH THE MAIN SQUADRON ON BOARD, LAUNCHED THE FAMOUS DOOLITTLE RAID AGAINST THE JAPANESE HOMELAND. HORNET WAS ACCOMPANIED BY THE CARRIER ENTERPRISE, CV-6, AND ESCORTING CRUISERS AND DESTROYERS. THAT WAS A GREAT MORALE BUILDER FOR OUR COUNTRY.

FURTHER, ON MAY 7, 1942 THE FIRST CARRIER-TO-CARRIER SEA BATTLE TOOK PLACE AT THE CORAL SEA. OUR SIDE SANK THE JAPANESE LIGHT CARRIER SHOHO. UNFORTUNATELY, THE U.S. LOST THE CARRIER LEXINGTON, CV-2, AND YORKTOWN, CV-5 WAS BADLY DAMAGED.

THOSE TWO ACTIONS FORCED THE JAPANESE NAVAL COMMAND TO PLAN AN ACTION THAT WOULD LURE OUT OUR REMAINING CARRIERS FOR A DECISIVE BATTLE AND TO ALSO ESTABLISH AN ADVANCED BASE NEAR PEARL HARBOR.

THROUGH INTERCEPTION OF JAPANESE RADIO TRANSMISSIONS THE U. S. MANAGED TO BREAK THEIR CODED MESSAGES AND DETERMINED THAT A MAJOR ACTION WAS BEING PLANNED. A TWO-PRONGED ATTACK WAS BEING PLANNED - ONE PRONG TO THE ALEUTIANS, AND THE OTHER EITHER PEARL HARBOR OR MIDWAY ATOLL. TO DETERMINE WHICH PLACE WAS TO BE ATTACKED, A LOW LEVEL MESSAGE WAS SENT STATING THAT MIDWAY WAS LOW ON WATER. THE JAPANESE THEN REPORTED THAT FACT TO THEIR FORCES THUS REVEALING TO OUR SIDE THAT MIDWAY WAS TO BE THE TARGET, SOMETIME IN EARLY JUNE.

AS I SAID EARLIER, OUR SQUADRON DETACHMENT ARRIVED IN PEARL HARBOR THE DAY AFTER HORNET HAD SAILED WITH THE VT-8 TBD-1S ON BOARD. THE DETACHMENT WAS THEN ASKED TO PREPARE SIX TBFS, AND FLY THEM TO MIDWAY ATOLL, TO REINFORCE THE MARINES THAT WERE DEFENDING THE ATOLL. ALL OF THE FLIGHT CREWS VOLUNTEERED FOR THE CHANCE TO GO.

OUR FLIGHT WAS LED BY LT LANGDON FEIBERLING. I WAS ASSIGNED TO BE RADIOMAN FOR PILOT ENSIGN ALBERT K. "BERT" EARNEST, AND TURRET GUNNER, AMM3/C JAY MANNING.

WE DEPARTED ON JUNE 1ST FOR THE 1,100 MILE FLIGHT WITH TWO PBY PILOTS AS OUR NAVIGATORS. ONE INTERESTING ASIDE: - MY PILOT, ENS. EARNEST, HAS REMARKED IN DISCUSSING OUR FLIGHT THAT THE 7.5 HOURS IN THE AIR TO MIDWAY, WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT HE HAD FLOWN OUT OF SIGHT OF LAND.

MIDWAYS EASTERN ISLAND WAS A BEEHIVE OF ACTIVITY WHEN WE ARRIVED WITH USAAF B-17S, MARINE F4F-3 AND F2A-2 FIGHTERS, SB2U-2 AND SBD-2 DIVE BOMBERS, AND NAVY PBY-5A PATROL PLANES. OF SPECIAL NOTE THERE WERE 4 USAAF B-26 MARAUDERS RIGGED TO CARRY TORPEDOES. OUR EXTRA FUEL TANKS WERE REMOVED AND IMMEDIATELY REPLACED WITH 2,000 POUND TORPEDOES, THAT THE PBYS HAD FERRIED TO MIDWAY.

PRIOR TO DAWN EACH DAY WE WOULD MAN OUR PLANES, CHECK OUT THE ENGINE AND RADIOS AND STANDBY UNTIL WELL AFTER DAWN. THE REST OF THE TIME WAS SPENT IN HARASSING THE GOONEY BIRDS. ON THE MORNING OF JUNE 4, 1942 WE WENT THROUGH THE SAME ROUTINE. SHORTLY AFTER ENGINE SHUTDOWN A MARINE CLIMBED ON OUR WING AND TOLD THE PILOT THAT AN ENEMY FORCE WAS PICKED UP HEADING FOR MIDWAY, AND THAT THE ENEMY SHIPS WERE 150 MILES AWAY ON A BEARING OF 320 DEGREES.

WE IMMEDIATELY TAXIED OUT AND TOOK OFF. THE SIX TBFS FORMED UP AND HEADED TOWARD THE REPORTED ENEMY POSITION. ENS. EARNEST HAD THOUGHT THAT WE WOULD BE TEAMING UP WITH THE MARINE DIVE BOMBERS, BUT FLIGHT LEADER, LT FEIBERLING, HEADED STRAIGHT OUT TOWARD THE ENEMY FORCE.

AFTER LEVELING OFF AT 4,000 FT. THE TURRET GUNNER REPORTED SIGHTING WHAT APPEARED TO BE ENEMY PLANES HEADING FOR MIDWAY. WE CONTINUED ON FOR ABOUT AN HOUR WHEN THE PILOT REPORTED SIGHTING MANY SHIPS ON THE HORIZON. ALL OUR AIRCRAFT TOOK ACTION TO OPEN THE BOMB BAY DOORS AND HEAD FOR THE SHIPS. ALMOST IMMEDIATELY JAY MANNING REPORTED, THAT WE WERE BEING ATTACKED BY JAPANESE FIGHTERS.

HE FIRED A FEW ROUNDS FROM THE 50 CAL. MACHINE GUN AND THEN WENT SILENT. I WAS MANNING MY SINGLE 30 CAL. MACHINE GUN THAT FIRED UNDER THE TAIL. I LOOKED BACK OVER MY SHOULDER AND SAW THAT MANNING HAD BEEN HIT AND WAS OBVIOUSLY DEAD. SHORTLY AFTER THAT THE TAIL WHEEL CAME DOWN BECAUSE OF A HYDRAULIC FAILURE.

SHORTLY THEREAFTER I WAS HIT IN THE LEFT WRIST, WHICH REALLY STARTLED ME. THE NEXT THING THAT I REMEMBER WAS WITH MY HEAD HANGING DOWN AND BLOOD POURING DOWN MY FOREHEAD. I STUCK MY HAND ON MY HEAD AND THOUGHT THAT I COULD FEEL A HOLE. EVENTUALLY THE BLEEDING STOPPED. I COULD NOT FIRE MY GUN AS IT HAD BEEN RENDERED USELESS BY THE TAIL WHEEL COMING DOWN.

I HAVE TO DESCRIBE THE REST OF THE FLIGHT FROM THE PILOTS PERSPECTIVE. MR. EARNEST STATES THAT WITH THE BOMB DOORS OPEN HE HEADED FOR THE JAPANESE CARRIERS. AS WE WERE DESCENDING HE SUDDENLY LOST ELEVATOR CONTROL. (WE HAD TO BE AT 200 FEET TO LAUNCH THE TORPEDO.) DETERMINED TO LAUNCH HIS TORPEDO HE USED RUDDER AND AILERONS TO KICK THE NOSE AROUND TOWARD THE NEAREST SHIP, PROBABLY A DESTROYER. AFTER RELEASING THE "FISH" HE ASSUMED THAT WE WOULD MAKE A WATER LANDING AS THE AIRCRAFT WAS TRIMMED IN A SLIGHTLY NOSE DOWN ATTITUDE. (THE TBF WAS A PRETTY HEAVY AIRPLANE ON THE CONTROLS.) INSTINCTIVELY PREPARING FOR A WATER LANDING HE ROLLED THE ELEVATOR TRIM TAB AND THE NOSE CAME UP. AS HE SAYS, "THEN I KNEW THAT I HAD A FLYABLE AIRPLANE, BUT TWO JAPANESE ZEROES WERE INTENT ON PROVING OTHERWISE." AFTER SOME TIME THEY BROKE OFF AND WE WERE ALONE. DETERMINED NOT TO FLY BACK THROUGH THE JAPANESE FORCE HE HEADED SOUTH USING THE SUN AS A GUIDE SINCE THE REMOTE COMPASS HAD BEEN SHOT OUT.

ONCE HE FELT THAT HE WAS WELL CLEAR OF THE ENEMY FORCE AND BELIEVING THAT WE WERE NOW DUE WEST OF MIDWAY HE HEADED TOWARD THE SUN. AFTER ABOUT AN HOUR HE CLIMBED UP ABOVE THE CLOUD LAYER AND SAW A COLUMN OF BLACK SMOKE ON THE HORIZON. ASSUMING THAT WHAT HE WAS SEEING WAS SMOKE FROM A FIRE ON MIDWAY. HE DROPPED BACK DOWN BELOW THE CLOUDS AND SOON SAW KURE ISLAND. HE THEN KNEW THAT WE WERE 50 MILES DUE WEST OF MIDWAY.

AS HE APPROACHED MIDWAY HE RELEASED THE MAIN LANDING GEAR BY THE EMERGENCY HANDLE. THE STARBOARD WHEEL DID NOT COME DOWN. HE TRIED SHAKING IT LOOSE BUT TO NO AVAIL. HIS FIRST TWO APPROACHES TO THE RUNWAY WERE WAVED OFF, BUT HE DETERMINED TO LAND ON THE NEXT PASS. AS SOON AS THE AIRPLANE LOST AIRSPEED THE STARBOARD WING CONTACTED THE RUNWAY AND GROUND LOOPED OFF THE RUNWAY. THE FLIGHT WAS OVER.

LATER THAT DAY IT BECAME APPARENT THAT THE OTHER FIVE TBFS WERE NOT GOING TO RETURN, AND ONLY TWO OF THE B-26S CAME BACK.

OUR FLIGHT THAT MADE ITS ATTACK AT 7:00 AM, AND WE WERE FOLLOWED BY THE AAF B-26S. SEVEN OF THE TEN ATTACKING AIRPLANES WERE SHOT DOWN.

IT WAS AT ABOUT THIS TIME, 7:00 AM, THAT THE U.S. CARRIERS HORNET, ENTERPRISE AND YORKTOWN BEGAN LAUNCHING THEIR PLANES. BECAUSE THE JAPANESE FORCE HAD CHANGED COURSE THE U.S. CARRIER PLANES DIDNT FIND THEM AT THE PREDICTED LOCATION. THE TORPEDO SQUADRONS WERE THE FIRST TO FIND THE JAPANESE CARRIERS. THEY ATTACKED WITHOUT FIGHTER ESCORTS OR THE COORDINATED ATTACK THAT HAD BEEN PLANNED TO OCCUR WITH THE DIVE BOMBERS. THE FIRST TO ATTACK WAS VT-8 WITH 15 TBDS AT 9:30 AM. THEY WERE ALL SHOT DOWN. NEXT CAME VT-6 AT 9:38 AM WITH 14 TBDS - 10 WERE SHOT DOWN. FINALLY CAME VT-3 WITH 12 TBDS - 10 WERE SHOT DOWN. IN SUMMARY 51 TORPEDO-CARRYING AIRCRAFT ATTACKED THE JAPANESE FLEET, ONLY SEVEN RETURNED. OF THE 106 PILOTS AND CREWMEN IN 51 ATTACKING AIRCRAFT, ONLY ELEVEN PILOTS AND FIFTEEN CREWMEN SURVIVED. NOT A SINGLE TORPEDO HIT WAS SCORED! IN MY SQUADRON ONLY TWO PILOTS AND I RETURNED OF THE 48 THAT FLEW IN THE BATTLE THAT DAY.

THE NAVY DIVE BOMBERS ARRIVED AT ABOUT THE TIME THAT THE LAST OF THE TORPEDO PLANES WERE DESTROYED BY THE ZEROES. UNOPPOSED, THE DIVE BOMBERS SUCCEEDED IN SINKING THREE OF THE JAPANESE CARRIERS IN JUST A MATTER OF MINUTES. LATER THAT AFTERNOON THE FOURTH CARRIER WAS SUNK.

IT WAS A GLORIOUS VICTORY ACHIEVED BY THE SACRIFICE OF HUNDREDS OF GOOD MEN. IRONICALLY, THE FOUR SUNKEN JAPANESE CARRIERS HAD PARTICIPATED IN THE ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR. WE LOST THE CARRIER YORKTOWN TO A JAPANESE SUBMARINE AFTER BEING SEVERELY DAMAGED BY AERIAL TORPEDOES.

THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY, JUNE 4 TO 6, 1942, IS RIGHTLY DESCRIBED AS THE TURNING POINT OF THE NAVAL WAR IN THE PACIFIC, IT IS NOW ONE OF THE TWO SIGNIFICANT DATES IN OUR HISTORY TO BE COMMEMORATED EACH YEAR BY ALL NAVAL COMMANDS.

Radioman 3 Class Ferrier was the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, and a Purple Heart Medal his actions on 4 JUN 1942.eart  

 
Biography of
 
COMMANDER HARY H. FERRIER USN (RET)
Former Radioman 3 Class and Battle of Midway Surivor

cdrharryferrier.jpg

Harry Hackett Ferrier was born at Springfield, MA on January 23, 1925 to Jennie L. and Simon F."Harry" Ferrier.

He enlisted in the U. S. Navy on January 28, 1941 at 16 years of age. After recruit training at Newport, R.I. he was assigned to Aviation Radio School, at Jacksonville, FL. In September 1941 he was assigned to Torpedo Squadron Eight at Norfolk, VA. VT-8 was part of the Air Group that was to go aboard the new aircraft carrier, USS Hornet, CV-8. Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Hornet went to sea on its shakedown cruise with the Air Group embarked. Hornet then sailed to the Pacific, carrying the Doolittle raiders for that famous raid on the Japanese mainland.

At the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942, Torpedo Squadron Eight was divided into two groups with 15 Douglas TBD-1 Devastators on USS Hornet and six Grumman TBF-1 Avengers on Midway Atoll. All Fifteen of the Devastators and five of the Avengers were shot down during the attacks on the Japanese carrier force. Ensign George Gay, Ensign Albert Earnest and Harry Ferrier, RM 3/c were the sole survivors of the 48 airmen that flew into the attack that day.

Harry Ferrier continued to serve throughout WW II flying in torpedo planes and dive bombers from the carriers Enterprise and Yorktown. He received his first commission as an Ensign in January 1945.

Following WW II he voluntarily reverted back to CPO and flew as a Hurricane Hunter in PB4Y-2M Privateer aircraft for four years.

At the beginning of the Korean War he was re-commissioned and then, after schooling, taught the firing mechanisms of nuclear weapons at AFSWP,. Albuquerque, NM. He reverted from Lieutenant to Ensign to accept a permanent commission as a Limited Duty Officer in 1955. He was then assigned to various Heavy Attack Squadrons and Heavy Attack Wing Two at San Diego and Whidbey Island.

Harry was then assigned to Patrol Squadron Two, NAS Whidbey Island. He made two winter deployments to Alaska with VP-2 in 1962 and 1963 in Lockheed SP-2H Neptune patrol planes. He was the detachment maintenance officer on Adak, AK in 1963/1964.

During the Vietnam War he made three combat cruises supporting Marine troops, on USS Princeton, LPH-5, a helicopter carrier.

He returned to NAS Whidbey Island in 1966 to the Heavy Attack training squadron as Aircraft Maintenance Officer. He retired in September 1970 with the rank of Commander.

Following his Navy retirement he continued public service as a school director, planning commissioner, and the elected Island County Auditor, serving in that position for ten years.

His first wife, Chris, died in 1989. He married Evelyn Koetje in 1990. He has two children, four granddaughters, and three great grandchildren.

His awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, three Air Medals, and four Presidential Unit Citations.

Use the link below to read more about Harry's exploits with his pilot ENS Bert Earnest on 4 JUN 1942.