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Discussion Starter #1
During WWII some of the best Hollywood directors volunteered to make films for the War Department. Among them was John Ford, who was dispatched to the island of Midway shortly after Pearl Harbor without really knowing why he was there. In the weeks leading up to the battle, he spent some of his time at sea, and recorded the men of the flying units who were to bear the brunt of the war in the Pacific.

After the Battle of Midway, Ford realized that he had footage of almost everyone in Torpedo Squadron 8, the unit that lost all but one of its crew members attacking the Japanese fleet. On his own, he made a short film as a memorial to those men. The original footage was shot in 16mm, but because 16mm projectors were uncommon for home use in those days, Ford had it reproduced on 8mm, then had copies delivered to the families of all the fallen airmen. The film was not released to the public, and for years afterward the families were the only ones who had copies.

Here it is:

https://archive.org/details/torpedo_squadron8
 

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Magnificent! May we be worthy.
For those that don't know the story of Torpedo 8, or of the rest of the Battle of Midway, I recommend Incredible Victory by Walter Lord.
 

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The one survivor of that squadron (Gay was his last name I think) spent over 24 hours in the water. He sat there and watched the whole battle and the sinking of all 4 Japanese carriers. Can't say he had the best seat in the house, but what a show!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
As you watch the video, at around 5:30, Gay and his crewman show up. In small print under Gay's name is the word "RESCUED".

It's also kind of sobering to see how many of those pilots were ensigns. It would appear that most of them never saw age twenty-three, and that their entire combat careers consisted of that one mission.
 

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Yep, it pains me to say this, but most of our younger generations have no idea what many of that generation shouldered in order to preserve our way of life.

I'm making it a point to educate my great grandchildren in that regard and sharing the stories behind those little stars and ribbons hanging on the wall in my den.

Good find, Cap'n.
 

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Yep, it pains me to say this, but most of our younger generations have no idea what many of that generation shouldered in order to preserve our way of life.
Yup.
:cry:

"All gave some, some gave all."
 

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The current generation seems to believe WWII started when the US of A bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This from a TV interview years ago with 8 year olds.

Geoff
Who notes he grew up with the previous generation mostly in uniform. We don't do mass armies anymore.
 

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Midway turned out to be the decisive battle of the Pacific war and contrary to naval philosophy, nobody noticed at the time.
Geoff
Who is constantly amazed by reality and 20/20 hindsight.
 

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It's also kind of sobering to see how many of those pilots were ensigns. It would appear that most of them never saw age twenty-three, and that their entire combat careers consisted of that one mission.
It was a young man's war. Mass military is like that, cross reference Chinese volunteer loses in Korea.

Has anyone ever done a good book on Enlisted pilots in WWII?

Undeveloped tactics and utter lack of coordination and outdated aircraft did not add to the survivability. Insufficient numbers of fighters didn't help either. By the end of the war the US Navy had carriers with nothing but fighters on board and a few TBFs for moving VIPs around. Of course a Hellcat had a considerable external weapons load compared to the Wildcat.

Geoff
Whose youth was full of WWII, sometimes I wonder if this caused much delusion in the 1960s military.
 

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Until Midway, the Japanese were squarely kicking our hind ends. I know a man who was on not one, but two heavy cruisers that went down inside that first 6 months; the San Francisco, and the Chicago. He spent several hours in the drink covered in fuel oil both times.

Midway was THE biggest strategic victory of the war for us on either front. No single battle made more difference than Midway. After Midway, the Japanese spent the rest of the war reacting to what we did, instead of the other way around.

What that generation shouldered is simply amazing. And we have to give the Russians their due; they fought the REAL war. 26.5 million dead in Russia by the time it was all over; that's a full 50% of the entire war's direct military casualties. No wonder they call it The Great Patriotic War.
 

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George Gay wrote a book on his experience: "Sole Survivor: Torpedo Squadron Eight - Battle of Midway."
 
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