Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8)
Over the weekend I read two stories in my local mini-paper that had me asking the question: When did “fairness” – as defined by somebody – become a necessity to civilized society? Not in the sense of basic fairness, life, liberty, and property, but in the obsession with EVERYTHING MUST be “fair” to the utmost degree possible and even then, we must continue to “work” to make it even more fair.
Seventy-six years ago, it wasn’t fair that the Imperial Japanese Navy outnumbered and outgunned the US Navy. It “wasn’t fair” that Torpedo Squadron Eight (VT-8) aboard USS Hornet (CV-8) was forced to fly in obsolete death traps in a hopeless attack that had no chance of success.
It wasn’t “fair” when VT-8 soared into oblivion. Today we recall not just their sacrifice, but the very meaning of the word. And the realization that without their sacrifice, the rest of that day would not have gone as it did. — Dave Bowman
Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8) was a United States Navy squadron of World War II torpedo bombers. VT-8 was assigned initially to the air group of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, joining Hornet shortly after her commissioning in October 1941.
VT-8’s first and best-known combat mission came during the Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942. Flying obsolete Douglas TBD Devastators, all of Lieutenant Commander John C. Waldron’s fifteen planes were shot down during their unescorted torpedo attack on Japanese aircraft carriers. The squadron failed to damage any Japanese carriers or destroy enemy aircraft.
Only one member of VT-8 who flew from Hornet on that day survived in the action, Ensign George Gay. Ensign Gay was rescued the day following the battle. Torpedo 8 was afterwards awarded the American Presidential Unit Citation.
A list of the fallen:
- Lieutenant Commander John C. Waldron
- Lieutenant Raymond A. Moore
- Lieutenant James C. Owens Jr.
- Lieutenant, junior grade George M. Campbell
- Lieutenant, junior grade John P. Gray
- Lieutenant, junior grade Jeff D. Woodson
- Ensign William W. Abercrombie
- Ensign William W. Creamer
- Ensign Harold J. Ellison
- Ensign William R. Evans
- Ensign Henry R. Kenyon
- Ensign Ulvert M. Moore
- Ensign Grant W. Teats
- Robert B. Miles, Aviation Pilot 1st Class
- Horace F. Dobbs, Chief Radioman
- Amelio Maffei, Radioman 1st Class
- Tom H. Pettry, Radioman 1st Class
- Otway D. Creasy Jr., Radioman 2nd Class
- Ross H. Bibb Jr., Radioman 2nd Class
- Darwin L. Clark, Radioman 2nd Class
- Ronald J. Fisher, Radioman 2nd Class
- Hollis Martin, Radioman 2nd Class
- Bernerd P. Phelps Radioman 2nd Class
- Aswell L. Picou, Seaman 2nd Class
- Francis S. Polston, Seaman 2nd Class
- Max A. Calkins, Radioman 3rd Class
- George A. Field, Radioman 3rd Class
- Robert K. Huntington, Radioman 3rd Class
- William F. Sawhill, Radioman 3rd Class
- J.D. Manning, Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class / turret gunner in Ensign Earnest’s plane (noted above).