March 1, 2013
Oroville Mercury Register
June 19, 1942
In Midway Fight
Chico - Gordon McFeelly formerly of Chico is recovering at Pearl
Harbor hospital from injuries received in a pancake landing into
the ocean during the battle of Midway. McFeely, a gunner on a U.
S. plane based at Midway is reported to have scored a direct hit
on a Japanese aircraft carrier before his own plane plunged into
the sea out of control because of damage by enemy gunfire. (Stu=We
need to find more about this Chico Hero.)
Battle of Midway
Ensign George H. Gay at Pearl Harbor Naval Hospital, with a nurse
and a copy of the “Honolulu Star Bulletin” newspaper featuring accounts
of the battle. He was the only survivor of the 4 June 1942 Torpedo
Squadron Eight (VT-8) TBD torpedo plane attack on the Japanese carrier
force. Gay’s book “Sole Survivor” indicates that the date of this
photograph is probably 7 June 1942, following an operation to repair
his injured left hand and a meeting with Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.
Oroville Mercury Register June 19, 1942 Air Power Assumes Leading
Roll In Battle Of Pacific Nimitz Reports Japanese Lost 10 Times
U. S. Losses At Midway And In Coral Sea By Frank Tremaine, Aboard
A United States Warship, Pearl Harbor-(U.P.) Naval experts charted
their plans for the next phase of Pacific had taken the leading
role in Pacific fleet engagements and will continue to do so as
the war progresses. Addressing men of the fleet, in presenting honors
to nine heroes, Nimitz frankly recognized the revolution which air
power has brought about and asserted that in the Coral Sea and Midway
Island battles the Japanese had lost at least 10 times as many men
as had the United States. The ratio in plane losses, he added was
almost as heavy against the enemy and he revealed; “We are rapidly
increasing our battle strength. New ships and planes and pilots
are being added in constantly increasing numbers.” Battles Makes
History Nimitz admitted that because of Japan’s initial air superiority
in the Pacific there had been a heavy strain on navy aircraft carrier
personnel and that their losses had been heavy. “The Coral Sea and
Midway battles were the first in history in which great aerial duels
were fought by carrier fleets. Our air groups and our personnel
is the stuff that makes for victory.” He praised the patrol planes
which first saw the enemy and are still patrolling tirelessly; the
surface ships of all kinds and the submarines.
There was so much bravery at the Battle of Midway, our young
men fighting in the Air, on the Sea and on the Ground, one giant
battle, land, air and sea. They knew that the war in the Pacific
depended on America winning 6 months after Pearl Harbor and 6 months
of terrible hard fighting on Guadalcanal, the Philippines’, etc.
, things did not look good. Had we lost at Midway, ten’s of thousand’s
of American lives could be easily lost. It was them or us, Americans
against Japanese. Victory for the winner, sure death for most of
the losers. So far from home the Japanese had no use for prisoners.
Valor was every where, so the best thing for a writer to do is concentrate
on one little part of the Battle. The above two men were a big part
of this story, although I know little about what the Chico man was
doing when his plane went in, we know a lot of the more famous man,
Ensign George H. Gay. So let’s do the story of that little group
of Torpedo Bombers and their big part in the winning of the day.
Both sides had very brave men, but we surely had God on our side
that day. This is the part of the story that I will admit I get
a little choked up, you know that funny feeling. The torpedo bombers
big, slow, went in first, they have to go in low right on the deck
straight for the carriers just a little above the water a duck hunters
dream to have a duck coming in that way. Those brave men, 3 in each
plane were shot out of the sky one by one. They knew their chances
were next to nothing to survive, but on they pressed the attack.
Zero fighters behind them, every gun on the carrier firing directly
at them. I’m writing this from what I remember reading and hearing
about this attack, but I think there were 14 Torpedo planes shot
down from one squadron by doing what they did it taking the zero’s
down to the deck with them they gave our dive bombers a chance to
dive full bore on the carriers can you imagine “what that takes
of a man” to dive almost straight down into, well think of a rhyming
word for well. But they did and they won the day. Four Japanese
Mark your calendars for a great St. Patrick’s Luncheon to benefit
our Oroville Veterans Memorial Park, Wednesday, March 13th from
11am to 1:30pm at the FRSA center 1335 Myers St. Downtown Oroville,
Corned beef and cabbage lunch with drink and dessert; $8 per person.
You may purchase lunch tickets in advance at: Betty Jean’s 1920
Bird St. or Coffee Diem 1382 Myers St. “To Go” orders are available.
Sponsored by Oroville Downtown Business Association. For more information
please contact John Casner at 533-2721.