The "other" Torpedo 8
The detachment of USS Hornet's Torpedo 8 that was in the
process of converting to the new Grumman TBF Avenger
arrived in Pearl Harbor one day after the Hornet had
sailed north for the upcoming Battle of Midway. When
volunteers were asked for to fly what aircraft they had
to Midway all of the 21 crews volunteered. Six crews
were chosen and made the eight hour flight, arriving
June 1, 1942 at Midway Island.
Shortly after dawn on June 4th a PBY Catalina spotted
the Japanese fleet bound for Midway. The six Avengers
left immediately and sighted the Japanese at 0710. They
were intercepted by the Japanese CAP. The unescorted
Avengers headed for the deck. Still miles out from the
Japanese carriers two of the Avengers were shot down.
Ensign Earnest, flying 8-T-1, had his elevator controls
shot away but still managed to drop his torpedo at what
he thought was a cruiser. Flying back to Midway using
the fires set by the Japanese attack as his guide he
crashed landed. Only two of the crew survived. Their
gunner, J. D. Manning, had been killed in the attack.
This Avenger was the only one of the six to return.