The Hero Pilots of Midway Battle
The film “Midway” revisits the pivotal WWII battle from the perspectives of pilots, codebreakers, and naval officers on both sides of the conflict.
So here is the list of best pilots of the battle of midway.
Richard Halsey Best
Richard Halsey Best was a dive bomber pilot and squadron commander in the United States Navy during World War II. Stationed on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, Best led his dive bomber squadron at the 1942 Battle of Midway, sinking two Japanese aircraft carriers in one day, before being medically retired that same year due to damage to his lungs caused by breathing bad oxygen during the battle.
On May 31, 1940, Best received orders to join Bombing Squadron Six (VB-6), which was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. Upon arrival at the squadron’s base on land, Naval Air Station North Island, California, on June 10, Best was made flight officer (operations officer) of the squadron, who was third-in-command. By early 1942, after the war in the Pacific had begun, he had advanced to executive officer (XO), a standard navy term for second-in-command, under his close friend and USNA classmate, William Hollingsworth, known as “Holly,” as commander. Best subsequently became a squadron commander in time for the Battle of Midway.
C. Wade McClusky
C. Wade McClusky was a United States Navy aviator during World War II and the early Cold War period. He is credited with playing a major part in the Battle of Midway. In the words of Admiral Chester Nimitz, McClusky’s decision to continue the search for the enemy and his judgment as to where the enemy might be found, “decided the fate of our carrier task force and our forces at Midway.
Lieutenant Commander McClusky became Enterprise’s air group commander in April 1942. During the Battle of Midway, while leading his air group’s scout bombers on June 4, 1942, he made the critical tactical decision that led to the sinking of two of Japan’s fleet carriers, Kaga and Akagi.
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Clarence Earle Dickinson
Clarence Earle Dickinson serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Scouting Plane of Scouting Squadron SIX (VS-6), attached to the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE (CV-6), during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Returning to Oahu in a Scouting Plane, Lieutenant Dickinson and his gunner were engaged by a superior number of Japanese aircraft. Although the latter was killed, Lieutenant Dickinson continued to engage the enemy until his plane was forced down in flames. He escaped by parachute, landed near Ewa Airfield, and proceeded to the naval air station, Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Here he was immediately assigned to 175-mile aerial search operations at sea, his recent ordeal not having been reported to his superiors. Lieutenant Dickinson’s outstanding courage, daring airmanship, and determined skill were at all times inspiring and in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant Clarence Earle Dickinson, Jr., United States Navy, for distinguished service in the line of his profession, extraordinary courage, and disregard of his own safety.
Bruno Gaido was an aviation machinist’s mate whose biographical details are difficult to pin down. He achieved fame, however, through his daring feats and ultimate sacrifice in 1942.
Assigned to USS Enterprise (CV-6), he single-handedly shot down a Japanese aircraft, the pilot of which was attempting to crash on Enterprise’s flight deck, on 1 February 1942. For his initiative and bravery, Vice Admiral William F. Halsey promoted Gaido on the spot.
Gaido, flying as the rear-seat gunner for Enterprise’s Scouting Squadron 6, contributed to the successful attacks on the Japanese carriers Kaga and Akagi. During that action, however, Gaido’s aircraft stayed in the air too long, and fuel was running out. Seeing that the tanks were nearly empty, the pilot, Ensign Frank O’Flaherty, had to ditch the aircraft in the ocean. He and Gaido survived the impact but found themselves taken prisoner by crewmembers of a nearby Japanese destroyer, Makigumo. Once onboard, Gaido and O’Flaherty were likely interrogated under torture and then, several days later, thrown overboard. Because Makigumo was subsequently sunk, records on the particulars of Gaido’s ordeal and death do not survive.