Lt. Cmdr. John Charles Waldron
Lt. Cmdr. John Charles Waldron is best remembered for his sacrifice and courage during the Battle of Midway. He was born August 24, 1900 in Ft. Pierre, South Dakota. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1924 and received orders for aviation training at NAS Pensacola. He received his wings in 1927 and returned to the academy as an aviation instructor in 1929. Other assignments included flight instructor at NAS Pensacola; Scouting Squadron 3B (VS-3B), USS Lexington (CV-2); Fighter Squadron 3 (VF-3); Naval Proving Ground, Va; the Bureau of Ordnance, Washington, DC and in 1941 he took command of the newly formed Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8).
Under his command, Torpedo Squadron 8, flying Douglas TBD-1 Devastators, would sacrifice themselves and help change the tide of the war. On June 4, 1942, Waldron and his men left the USS Hornet (CV-8) to engage the Japanese.
Waldron, skeptical of the intiial flight plan on June 4, independently led his squadron of 15 torpedo bombers in a different direction. He successfully connected with the enemy but without fighter support, Waldron’s squadron was vulnerable to attack. Nevertheless, he sacrificed his squadron and led them into battle unprotected. He prepared his men for such an occasion for bravery and duty with these words, “We have truly done the best humanly possible. I actually believe that under these conditions, we are the best in the world. My greatest hope is that we encounter a favorable tactical situation but if we don’t, and the worst comes to the worst, I want each of us to do his utmost to destroy our enemies. If there is only one plane left to make a final run-in, I want that man to go in and get a hit. May God be with us all.”
Waldron’s squadron forced Japanese Zeros to engage thus leaving their carriers vulnerable to subsequent attacks from SBD Dauntlesses from the USS Yorktown (CV-5) and Enterprise (CV-6). His squadron of fifteen planes and 30 men would all perish, save one.
Waldron was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously and his unit received the Presidential Unit Citation for their remarkable actions during the Battle of Midway. The USS Waldron (DD 699) was named in his honor.
Derived from the Naval Historical Center