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VT-8, "The soul of America in Action"
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, June 05, 2007

That's what Herman Wouk who wrote "War and Remembrance" called the men of Torpedo Squadron 8 who flew off the US carrier Hornet and into and annals of US military history.


This 15 plane squadron of outdated and outgunned Douglas TBD Devastator torpedo bombers executed an unescorted attack on 4 Japanese aircraft carriers.

It was their first combat mission. They were the first Americans to find the Japanese fleet and they attacked it.

Not a single plane survived the attack. Not a single enemy aircraft was destroyed. Not a single Japanese warship was damaged. Of the 30 in the squadron, only one man, Ensign George Gay (circled in the picture), survived the attack.

They never hesitated, they never deviated, they immediately pressed the attack and died in the effort. Ensign Gay, floating in the ocean in the middle of the Japanese fleet got some measure of satisfaction as he watched the relentless American attacks eventually cripple the Japanese fleet and change the tide of the war in the Pacific once and for all.

Although their attack, along with those other torpedo squadrons, failed, they had identified the position of the enemy fleet as well as exhausting the Japanese combat air patrol protecting the carriers. When follow on US aircraft attacked they devastated Japan's fleet.
However, despite their terrible sacrifices, the American torpedo planes indirectly achieved three important results. First, they kept the Japanese carriers off balance, with no ability to prepare and launch their own counterstrike. Second, their attacks had pulled the Japanese combat air patrol out of position — not in terms of altitude (as has commonly been described), but by laterally distorting the CAP coverage over the Japanese fleet. Third, many of the Zeros were low on ammunition and fuel.
The results of the battle saw the Japanese Imperial Navy lose all 4 fleet carriers ((Kaga, Akagi, Soryu, and Hiryu), leaving it only two in service. The US lost one carrier, the USS Yorktown. Torpedo Squadron 8 was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation.

Yesterday, June 4th, was the anniversary of the valorous attack by Torpedo 8 in the Battle of Midway. It is important that we remember these dates and battles, and the brave men and women who fought and died in them because they are our heritage, and by their actions, they protected our birthright. We owe them at least this remembrance.

(HT: BlueCrab Boulevard)
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Previous Comments to this Post 


George Gay is protrayed in the movie, "Midway", that was made i think in 1976. And the real G. Gay is on the dvd on the doctumentary section. And also the man who helped to break the code of the Japanese which lead to Midway and Admiral Nitmtz gambling that they could beat the Japanese there and catch the Japanese carriers their and sink them.

It is interesting that i think that radio host Hugh Hewitt is someway related to one of the men that flew on the flight VT-8. I think it might be through his wife.
Written By: roger olson
URL: http://
I watch "Midway" about every other year during the first week of June. I’ve learned to skip the parts about Charlton Heston and his son, and just watch the evolution of the military conflict. It’s a great reminder of the roles that courage, luck, and perserverance can play in world-historical situations.

Wouk’s presentation of Midway in War and Remembrance is also excellent. He does a particularly good job of giving kudos to Admiral Spruance, a much underappreciated man.

If you go in-depth about Midway, looking at the failed catapult that got one recon plane out late, the failed radio, the chancy navigation that led the Americans to the Japanese carriers... well, it’s enough to make you believe in the Time Patrol.
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
People don’t realize how screwed we were after Pearl Harbor. It is absolutely astonishing to me that we won the battle of the Pacific and defeated Japan at sea.
Written By: Jimmy the Dhimmi
Jimmy you speak only a half truth there, no personal insult meant by that. The web site Combined Fleet or Nihon Kaigun examines the question of, "What if the US had lost Midway?" From an aircraft and ship production level, it extends the war...six months. The only difference is that Midway and one of her sister ships sees combat in the Second World War. Japan NEVER stood a chance against the US.

See also the section of the site that discusses the econmoic disparities between the US and the Axis, I believe the US represents something like 45% of the world’s war-making capacity. Germany represented something like 14%. The Axis powers never stood much of a long-run chance against the industrial might of the UK, the US, and the USSR.
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Joe, that analysis fails to take the human element into consideration. What would the US population have done if sustained attacks against the West Coast had been launched because of Japanese naval supremacy in the Pacific? Would a separate peace with Japan have been the only viable political option? Would that have soured the population on the whole idea of world war, causing our participation in Europe and supplying the Soviet Union to be half-hearted and not enough to turn the tide against Germany?

I’d like to think the citizens of the United States would simply have dug in and become even more determined to removed the dictatorial scourge of the Axis. In fact, I think that would have been the most likely outcome. But I’m far from certain about it.
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Billy I did say "production"...however, like you I do like to believe that a defeat would have merely stiffened US resolve to fight on. One alternative history I read did posit that the Republicans take the House and Senate in 1942 and that FDR does not win re-election in 1944, had the US lost Midway. Which is an interesting couter-point to today...had the Congress changed and had FDR lost in 1944, neither Hitler nor Tojo would have taken any consolation from the defeat of their opponents. The Republicans wouldn’t have ended the war on better terms than the Democrats.

Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I’d like to think the citizens of the United States would simply have dug in and become even more determined to removed the dictatorial scourge of the Axis. In fact, I think that would have been the most likely outcome. But I’m far from certain about it.
I don’t see any reason to think we would have shown less resolve than the Brits, Russians, Germans, or Japanese.

Also, the key point at Midway wasn’t the destruction of the Japanese carriers but the destruction of the Japanese pilots who didn’t have carriers to land on. The day prior to the battle, Japan had the best naval air force in the world. The day after the battle they did not.

The Japanese problem could have been minimized if they had focused more on pilot recovery.
Written By: Don
URL: http://
The Japanese problem could have been minimized if they had focused more on pilot recovery.
Read Fire in the Sky. It was not a priority for either the pilots or their air forces. Pilots were warriors and they fought until they died, it wasn’t really thought all that important to bother with their recovery.

Seriously, people like to say "Midway was a turning point" or some decisive battle. It was dramatic, but the Battle of the Coral Sea was as important and the war was actually won in the Guadalcanal/Papua New Guinea campaigns. Those destroyed the japanese air forces and light naval forces.
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I remember reading a comment made by a Japanese Admiral (similar to the “sleeping giant” comment by Yamamoto) to the effect that these American pilots fight like Samurai, realizing once again America is not the paper tiger they thought we were.

Are you getting this Towel-Heads?
Written By: McQ2
URL: http://
The japanesse lost the war on the first day when they decided against sending the third attack wave
to knock out the dry docks repair area and the tank farm.If they did that then the war would of started out of San Diego instead of pearl harbor.
That being said,the victory at midway balanced out
the carrier forces of both navies. The battle of
guadalcanal was true turning point in the war in the pacific.Remember even though the japanesse
lost over 250 aircraft at midway they lost very few pilots.During the campaign for guadalcanal the japanesse 3rd fleet lost almost all of the squadron and flight leaders from the pearl harbor
attack.3rd fleet never recovered.
Written By: paul
URL: http://

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