"Pilots, Man Your Planes!"   
                                         WWII U.S. Naval Aviation Collector's Guide                                                                              
Although our background photo may, at first glance, appear unremarkable, context is everything. This is actually the last known photo of Torpedo Squadon Eight, taken June 4, 1942, as they flew out in search of the Imperial Japanese fleet on the first day of the Battle of Midway. If you are a student of WW2 history, you will appreciate the true significance of this image and realize that of the 30 brave men who were launched from USS Hornet in those 15 TBD-1 Devastators that morning, only one, ENS George Gay, returned.

Below:  Prior to June 4th, famed director John Ford and his cameramen filmed VT-8's pilots and crewmen aboard the Hornet. The film seen here, with original sound, is a copy of an edited version sent to the families of VT-8's fallen, shortly after the battle.
Memorial Day 2018

Remember the high cost of freedom
Often overlooked, but no less heroic, were the men who flew a contingent of six TBF-1 Avenger aircraft of VT-8 to Midway Island from Hawaii, having arrived at Pearl Harbor too late to board the Hornet before she sailed. Of those six crews, who also engaged the enemy fleet on June 4th, five were shot down. Only one plane managed to return to Midway. Total casualties for the squadron that day were 45 men killed in action, out of the 48 who participated in the attack and 20 out of 21 aircraft. Their contribution to victory, however, was immeasurable.  Always remember the high cost of freedom.
Above: Riddled by enemy fire, with its turret smashed, hydraulic system shot out, instrument panel shattered and flight controls damaged, 8-T-1 limped back to Midway with its bomb bay doors open, barely flying by use of its trim tabs and the will of its pilot. Only the port main gear would lower and lock, but Ensign Earnest managed a safe landing despite the extensive damage to his aircraft.

Below: The two survivors from the Midway contingent of VT-8, who were both wounded, ENS Albert Earnest and his radioman, ARM 2/c Harry Ferrier. Their turret gunner, AMM 3/c J. D. Manning, gave his life defending the plane from repeated attacks by Zero fighters.
Above: VT-8's CO, LCDR John Waldron, seen here with his rear gunner, CRM Horace Dobbs (left), was a tough taskmaster, but his men were devoted to their skipper. On the eve of battle, in Ready Room No. 4 aboard Hornet, his message to his men closed with the following words:

"I want each of us to do his utmost to destroy our enemies. If there is only one plane left to make the final run-in, I want that man to go in and get a hit. May God be with us all. Good luck. Happy landings and give 'em hell!"