Eye Witness Account

Front row L-R - Richard Blain, Leon Williamson, Daniel Cummings, Allan Ringblom, Harold Schlendering, Sumner Witten, Frank Zolnis, Gordon McFeely. Second row - William Humbard, Jack Cosley, George Koutelas, George Lumpkin, Clyde Stamps, John Moore, Charles Cayer.

Front row L-R – Richard Blain, Leon Williamson, Daniel Cummings, Allan Ringblom, Harold Schlendering, Sumner Witten, Frank Zolnis, Gordon McFeely.
Second row – William Humbard, Jack Cosley, George Koutelas, George Lumpkin, Clyde Stamps, John Moore, Charles Cayer.

Lt. Allan H. Ringblom

dive-bomber pilot VMSB-241, MAG-22

“Upon arrival, 27 May, at the island, we were greeted by remarks indicating that we were just in time for the “party.”  These remarks didn’t bother us; we had just left the States two weeks before.  Next morning, at squadron briefing when Major Henderson also let us know that the Japs were overdue — we did a little more thinking on the matter.

“The greenest group ever assembled for combat included Second Lieutenants George Lumpkin, E.P. Thompson, George Koutdas, D.L. Cummings, A.H. Ringblom, Jack Cosley, Ken Campion, Orvin Ramlo and James Marmande.  None of us had ever flown the SB2U, so we immediately checked out with no more trouble than a couple of ground loops.

“On the morning of 4 June, after an 0200 reveille, we were all at standby and had warmed up the planes.  Finally a runner came by in a jeep and verified the attack order.  By 0605 we were all in the air.  Capt. Prosser returned with a loose fuselage panel so I assumed his lead position in the second box.  By the time we were rendezvoused, the Jap’s attack had fired a fuel storage tank, which served as a guiding mark throughout the day and night.

Imperial Japanese Fleet on approach to Midway

Imperial Japanese Fleet on approach to Midway

“It was a quiet, uneventful trip to meet the enemy… The amazing nonchalance of Zero pilots who did vertical rolls right through our formation was a good show –very good for us since more attention to business might easily have wiped out 11 of the slowest and most obsolete planes ever to be used in the war.

“With the interception at 13,000 feet, the clouds became our haven and Major Norris led us without loss to the target… The AA was heavy, but to one so ignorant of its destructive powers – not too bothersome, just curious.  I received identical holes, about 6” in diameter, in each aileron.

“On release at 400′, I pulled out right over the cruiser and was headed for the center of the fleet.  One turn to join two buddies at 240 knots convinced me it was no place to circle; a Zero passed right behind as I whipped into a light turn.  I headed home.  I stayed below 50′ for about 20 minutes, in a straight course, only luck making harmless the numerous passes made by the Zeros.  My gunner later told me he was too busy shooting to even inform me of the situation, and I was too scared and ignorant to turn around and look.

 “I flew a compass course, not bothering to compensate for wind, variation, nor compass.  I sighted a lagoon which I took to be Midway and let down, made my recognition approach and was greeted by fire from a PT.  I immediately left the area and regained altitude to continue on course.  (Woe was me!  That was Kure Reef, just 50 miles west of home.)

satellite view of Midway Atoll

satellite view of Midway Atoll

“The radio failed, as radios were wont to do.  I used good judgement then, for the first time that day, and turned 180 degrees.  As luck and poor navigation would have it, by 1100 I had sighted 2 lagoons, and mentally flipping a coin, chose the one to the right – how right I was!  Within 10 miles of the reef I ran out of gas.  I attempted to get the life raft loose, to no avail.  Then I found I could not replace the pins holding the bucket seat.  So I was faced with a water landing in a loose seat.

“I chose to land right in front of a PT boat and all went so well that I even forgot to inflate my life jacket, the pick-up was made so readily.  So, by 1115, I was back on Eastern Island to be greeted by Captain Prosser, who said, ‘Well, never expected to see you again.’ — Hell, neither did I!!”

Click on images to enlarge.

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tl903056

For those of you who found the Japanese point of view interesting, you might want to look HERE!

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Military Humor – These guys have FAR too much time on their hands!!

random-03_05_15-600-43

Plane as duck.jpgSomeone had WAY too much time on their hands!

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Farewell Salutes – 

Marcus Bawol (27) – Warren, WI; USMC, 2nd Special Operations Battalion, SSgt

Trevor Blaylock (29) – Lake Orion, MI; USMC, 2nd Special Operations Battalion, SSgt.

Thomas “TC” Florich (26) – DeRidder, LA; US Army 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battion

Liam Flynn (33) – Queens, NY; USMC, 2nd Special Operations Battalion, SSgtBlack-Hawk-helicop_1570814c.

Kerry Michael Kemp (27) – Port Washington, WI; USMC, 2nd Special Operations Battion, SSgt.

Thomas Sanders (33) -Camp Lejeune, NC; USMC, 2nd Special Operations Battalion, MSgt.

Andrew Self (26) – Holland MI, USMC; 2nd Special Operations Battalion, SSgt., Silver Star

Stanford Henry Shaw III (31) – Baking Ridge, NJ; USMC, 2nd Special Operations Battalion, Capt.

David Strother – Pineville, LA; US Army, 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion, Chief Petty Officer

From top - Thomas Saunders, Stanford Shaw III, Andrew Seif, Kerry Kemp, Liam Flynn, Marcus Bawol, Trevor Blaylock

From top – Thomas Saunders, Stanford Shaw III, Andrew Seif, Kerry Kemp, Liam Flynn, Marcus Bawol, Trevor Blaylock

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on March 16, 2015, in First-hand Accounts, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 60 Comments.

  1. What an amazing, hair raising account!

    Like

  2. What a first hand account, which reveals the human element, and how experience, judgment, and luck really impact the out come.

    Like

  3. A great compelling eyewitness story gp, could virtually feel the tension in the reading.
    Pilots are a remarkable breed of warriors, I saw many great feats in Vietnam and New Guinea, with both plane and chopper pilots.
    I enjoy your posts immensely.

    Like

  4. Great read, thanks for sharing!

    Like

  5. Thany you Freund Gruß von mir Gislinde

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The innocence of these young airman is beyond astonishing.

    Like

  7. Well written as always. Such a surprise to see my name there amongst the crew. No often I see it outside Wales.

    Like

  8. What an amazing story, yet it brought tears to my eyes. Some of our military were lucky, and some not at all, but God bless them all!

    Like

  9. What a great story. There’s a quote about the juxtaposition of luck and planning–that explains the correct choice of island. Don’t know that it covers the PT boat!

    Like

    • I got a kick out of his care-free attitude in such a serious situation – I think I would have been a bit more perturbed by the PT boat than he was!

      Like

  10. Wow, what a story and the ending sure was close before running out of gas. Glad he chose the right way when making the decision. Excellent post, Everett!

    Like

  11. This begins on the day I was born, May 27, 1942. Staggering!

    Like

  12. I am really enjoying these first hand accounts. What an amazing story this one was. So close to a bad ending.

    Like

  13. Andrew Self earned his Silver Star one week before his death.
    …..

    Exciting, as always. From the gunners position he must have been running on full adrenaline!

    ……
    Thank you for honoring our heroes, without their courage and dedication we would cease to live in Freedom.

    Like

    • Glad to see you enjoyed the post and read the Farewell Salutes; I’m always fearful they will go unnoticed. I appreciate your thanks to me for repeating this history, but it is the men who honor me by going out each day – without them, would I be allowed to write this blog? Thanks for coming today.

      Liked by 1 person

      • They do honor us, each and every day, but I am honored that you take the time and reverence to pay tribute to them. All it takes is for one forgotten soldier to be touched by your efforts, to see that they and their buddies are remembered, to rekindle the fire of hope within their souls.

        “Gone, but never forgotten. A solider’s footprint carved the direction to peace and glory. Let us not forget their journey, and may we always pay tribute to their mission.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • The “Farewell Salutes” are always a must read gp, especially as you never fail to mention those of the US Allies as many are wont to do.

        Like

        • I do my best to locate them, for some reason it is not always the easiest job to find the obituaries from outside the US. But, I include what I find; they fought the same fight as we did. Thank you for letting me know these men get noticed!

          Like

  14. A wonderful story. I was scared just reading it!

    Like

  15. Father Paul Lemmen

    Reblogged this on A Conservative Christian Man.

    Like

  16. ‘Well, never expected to see you again.’ — Hell, neither did I!!” I was struck by how often we survive in spite of ourselves. –Curt

    Like


  17. Wünsche dir eine glückliche Woche lieber Gruß Gislinde

    Like

  18. That was close!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. It is strange that the world revolved around the war. Now we have actions but they are localized and effect only some of us. World War Two affected the whole nation. Everything was the war. Even the people stuck in the states were affected. The mind balks at the death everyday. Yet the story related is casual, no big deal, but it was and it was handled like the men and women who graced the United States at that time. A generation of great people.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Pierre Lagacé

    You got me going again GP, but I know when to stop.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Pierre Lagacé

    The Vindicator at Midway:

    VMSB-1, the “east coast” Marine Scout-Dive Bomber unit, was renumbered VMSB-231 in October 1941 and sent to the west coast as war clouds gathered in the Pacific. In November, the unit was sent on to MCAS Ewa at Pearl Harbor. During the first week of December, 18 of the unit’s 24 Vindicators were loaded aboard the “Saratoga”, for shipment on to Midway. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, which happened before “Saratoga” could send the Vindicators on to Midway Island, the carrier was recalled to Pearl Harbor, where the Marines found the Vindicators left behind at Ewa had been destroyed in the Japanese attack. On December 23, 1941, 18 SB2U-3s, accompanied by a PBY for navigation, demonstrated their long-range capability when they made the 1,135 mile flight from Oahu to Midway in 9 hours and 45 minutes. At Midway, the squadron joined the F2A-3s of VMF-221 as Marine Air Group 22, the westernmost American unit in the Pacific, following the surrender of Wake Island the week before.

    Discovered in 1859 and annexed by the United States in August 1867, Midway Atoll consists of Sand and Eastern islands, surrounded by a coral reef less than six miles in diameter. The atoll was used as a cable station and airport for Pan American Airways’ China Clipper until March 1941, when the U.S. Navy began construction of a naval air station. Completed in August 1941, Midway NAS included a 5,300-foot runway on Eastern Island. Midway entered the war on December 7 when the Japanese destroyers Sazanami and Ushio shelled the airfield. With the outbreak of war, Midway became vitally important, though at the time none of its personnel could have imagined how important.

    At the time of their departure for Midway, the SB2U-3s of VMSB-231 were due for an overhaul that would have included replacing the wing and fuselage fabric. Suffering from heat, sunlight, and salt air on Midway, the fuselage fabric went from bad to worse, and the squadron was reduced to wrapping 4-inch medical tape over the worst areas to keep the fabric in place, which was then doped over, resulting in all the dirt on the airplane at the moment being preserved. under the dope. These were the famous “white stripes” seen in photos. No two airplanes had similar taping.

    Through the first five months of 1942, the Vindicators would take off at 0400 for a morning anti-submarine patrol, with an evening patrol taking off at 1730. As one squadron member recalled, “In between, we’d practice bombing during the day. There was a barge out in the lagoon, but we got no practice in hitting a moving ship. Meanwhile, Japanese submarines were watching us – they knew what we had. Every Friday night the Japanese shelled us, but the three or four rounds they fired were not too effective considering that the island was no more than 4 feet above sea level. We’d sit on top of our dugout on Friday night, wondering where the shells would come from and where they would go. Most went right over the island and into the lagoon. They sometimes hit, making a hole 15 feet long, and we’d just fill it in.”

    In February 1942, several VMSB-231 personnel were sent back to MCAS Ewa to form new squadrons, and on March 1, 1942, the squadron was redesignated VMSB-241, the “Sons of Satan.”

    At the end of May., 1942, the pilots were informed the war was coming to them, with the main Japanese fleet set to hit Midway and invade it within a week. The squadron received 16 SBD-1 and SBD-2 airplanes a day later, to supplement the tired old SB2U-3sw

    On June 4, 1942, the squadron was ordered to take off at 0700 and attack the Japanese fleet. Major Benjamin W. Norris led 12 SB2Us, though one had to drop out with mechanical problems. Japanese carrier planes were attacking Midway as they took off with bombs falling on the island. They were to rendezvous 40 miles east of the island, but when the SB2Us got there the SBDs were long gone. The Vindicators headed out, climbing at 200-300 feet per minute until they reached 8,000 feet, just above the clouds.

    The weather over Midway on June 4 was clear, with scattered clouds. As they proceeded northwest toward the Japanese fleet the cloud cover became more complete. By the time they were 25 miles from the projected attack point, the cloud cover was solid to broken, with heavy clouds extending up to 8,000 feet. Between breaks in the overcast they could see elements of the Japanese fleet.

    The SB2U-3s were in three four-plane sections, in a step-down formation when the Japanese Combat Air Patrol found them and attacked. Several gunners were killed before the little formation got to the fleet.

    Over the Japanese fleet, the Vindicators dove n column formation through cloud breaks, still under attack by Zeros. They emerged into clear air at about 3,500-4,000 feet, in the vicinity of a battleship, which Norris ordered them to attack; going after the carriers would have meant flying across the entire fleet while under attack.

    Two SB2Us, crewed by Lt. Andrew Campion and Private Anthony J. Maday and 2nd Lt. James H. Marmande and Pfc Edby M. Colvin, failed to return. Second Lieutenant Allan H. Ringblom ran out of fuel, and had to ditch. He and his gunner, Private E.L. Webb, were rescued by PT-26. Lt. Cummings also had to ditch a few miles short of Midway, and was rescued by PT-20.

    The survivors of the morning strike were refueled and rearmed. They spent until 1900 waiting to go out, at which time they were ordered to find and attack two burning Japanese carriers.

    The SBDs, now led by Captain Marshall A. Tyler following the death of squadron CO Major Henderson in the morning attack, went out on their own. Major Norris led five SB2U-3s in a V formation. The weather was bad, and they never found a target. In the darkness the formation fell apart. Major Norris’ plane never came back, but everyone else did.

    On June 5 VMSB-231 took off at 0430 to attack two enemy cruisers, the Mogami and Mikuma, which had collided during the night. The six SBDs were failed to finish off Mogami, but the six SB2Us, led by Captain Fleming, got a couple of hits on Mikuma, one a solid hit forward, and another a bouncer off the stern. Fleming’s SB2U was hit by anti-aircraft fire early in the attack and burst into flames; he flew his plane into the ship, killing himself and his gunner, PFC George A. Toms. The executive officer of Mikuma, who survived the battle, said he thought Fleming was a very brave man because he hit the after turret and put it out of action. He also caused a fire that was sucked into Mikuma’s starboard air intakes, suffocating her engineers.

    VMSB-231 remained on Midway until September 1943, when they returned to Pearl Harbor. Among the aircraft they left behind were three surviving SB2U-3s, by that time they were the last Vindicators being used by any American unit anywhere.

    For carrying on his attack at cost of his life and insuring that VMSB-241’s attack on the Japanese fleet was successful, Captain Richard A. Fleming was recognized with the posthumous award of the Medal of Honor.

    Source

    http://modelingmadness.com/review/allies/cleaver/us/usn/tmcsb2u3.htm

    Liked by 4 people

  22. Pierre Lagacé

    Amazing tale.

    This is the first time I have read something about how an attack by SB2Us was made.
    I knew they were used at Midway like the B-26 and the B-17

    Liked by 1 person

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