View Full Version : Vale Lloyd Childers USN Torpedo 3 USS Yorktown

Pete Hill
09-01-2015, 11:19 AM
Was saddened to recently hear that Lloyd Childers, a well-known survivor of the Battle of Midway in 1942, recently passed away on July 15th at the age of 94.

Childers was a rear-seat gunner in Torpedo 3 Squadron on board the USS Yorktown at the Battle of Midway. Previously he had been a sailor on the Destroyer USS Cassin and had been on board her when she had been dive-bombed and severely damaged whilst in dry-dock at Pearl Harbour. Having survived that event, Childers was transferred to the Yorktown and became a rear-seat man in Torpedo 3, a unit equipped with Douglas TBD Devastator torpedo-planes.
On the morning of June 4th 1942, Torpedo 3 (12 aircraft strong) was launched from the deck of the Yorktown and sent towards the Japanese carrier fleet located near Midway Atoll. Two other squadrons of TBDs, Torpedo 8 & 6 from the carriers Hornet and Enterprise respectively had already attacked the fleet without success and had sustained disastrous losses- the 15 aircraft of T8 had been completely destroyed whilst T6 lost 10 out of 14 planes.
The slow, vulnerable TBDs were ill-suited to the task but Torpedo 3 did not hesitate to attack. Aiming at the Japanese carrier Hiryu, T3 bored in at low-level, escorted by a token flight of six F4F Wildcat fighters. At the same time, SBD Dauntless dive-bombers from the Enterprise and Yorktown attacked the other three Japanese carriers from above, mortally damaging them in quick succession. But T3, like its sister torpedo squadrons, would not score such a success and the majority of the Japanese fighters on CAP ganged up on the lumbering TBDs. Ten of the Devastators were shot down, 19 crewmen were killed and one more captured (and later brutally executed). The two surviving planes made their escapes. Zero fighters gave chase. Childer's pilot, ensign Harry Corl, did everything he could to evade their attacks. He skilfully turned in towards each successive enemy fighter, flying at them head-on and forcing each one to break away to avoid a collision. Childers was wounded but he fired his .30 calibre machine-gun at the darting Japanese fighters. When his weapon jammed, Childers drew a Colt.45 and fired that.

'Fighting Back with a 45' by John Greaves

Fortunately the Japanese pilots were under strict orders not to stray too far from the fleet and they turned back. The last Zero fighter lingered briefly alongside and Childers saw the pilot raise his hand. Whether it was a friendly wave or a rude gesture, he couldn't tell.
Childers and Corl flew back to the US Task Force only to find their carrier, the Yorktown, was under attack. Lacking the fuel to fly to the other US carriers, they ditched their TBD alongside the destroyer USS Monaghan and both men were rescued. The other surviving TBD of T3 also made it back and likewise ditched. The pilot, Bill Esders, survived but his badly wounded gunner later died.

'T3 Returns to the Yorktown' by Alex Durr

Photograph of Childers' TBD after it ditched, taken from the Destroyer USS Monaghan.

Harry Corl was killed in action when he was shot down during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons two months later in August 1942. Lloyd Childers survived the war and remained in the Navy, serving in both Korea and Vietnam. In his retirement, he was an active member of the 'Midway Roundtable', an historical association devoted to study of the famous battle.

Lloyd Childers was the last surviving veteran of the Torpedo Squadrons that fought at Midway. Of the 82 crewmen in the three Torpedo units, only 14 survived the battle, the most famous being ensign George Gay, sole survivor of Torpedo 8 (who passed away in 1994).

09-01-2015, 02:09 PM
Brave brave men,knowing the odds were they were never coming home. R I P .