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"Midway VT-8 survivor, CAPT Albert K. Earnest" Topic


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GuyG1307 Nov 2009 3:30 a.m. PST

I put this on the Obit Board, but couldnt cross post from there. I felt it shouild go here too.

From the Golden Eagles network. A

NOTAM 16-2009 (Earnest)


Golden Eagles:

It is my sad duty to inform you that CAPT Albert K. Earnest, USN (Ret.),
made his last takeoff Oct 26, 2009 at Sentra Virginia Beach General
Hospital. Bert was preceded in death by his wife Mildred McConnell
Earnest. He is survived by a daughter, Kathryn Lynn Earnest, of Alexandria
VA, and a son, William Kyle Earnest. Funeral services will be held at the
NAS Oceana Chapel at noon on 14 Nov. Interment with Millie will take place
in the Arlington National Cemetery Columbarium at a date and time to be
determined. We will pass more detailed information when it becomes
available.

He was born April 1, 1917 in Richmond VA, the son of the late James Gifford
Earnest and Jessie Mullan Earnest, both of Richmond VA. He attended
Virginia Military Institute, Class of 1938, graduating with a Bachelor of
Science degree in Civil Engineering, and was commissioned a Second
Lieutenant, Field Artillery, U.S. Army Reserve. Commissioned later an
Ensign, USNR in a transfer to the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1941, he reported
for active duty with Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8) on 8 December 1941. He flew
the Grumman TBF-1 in the Battle of Midway with a VT-8 land-based contingent
in its first combat use. He was the only pilot survivor in that group..
Later, in World War II, he continued to serve in a re-constituted VT-8 on
board USS Saratoga (CV-3) supporting the Guadalcanal landing and the Battle
of Eastern Solomons. Bert flew 28 missions while land-based on Guadalcanal
and an additional 55 missions while assigned to VC-7 operating from USS
Manila Bay (CVE-61). His combat awards include 3 Navy Crosses, 2 Air
Medals, and a Purple Heart.

During his 31 years in U.S. Naval Service, CAPT Earnest attended Naval
Postgraduate School in Annapolis MD; General Line School, Newport RI; and
Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Washington DC.

He commanded Attack Squadron 14A (VA-14A) May 1947-June 1948; Air Task Group
181 (ATG-181) at NAS Oceana Aug 1957- September 1958; the USS Estes (AGC-12)
Oct 1965 Oct 1966; and, finally, NAS Oceana, Oct 1966-Nov 1968.

Additional aviation tours of duty included Tactical Test Division (Aug 1944
- April 1947) where he was the first US pilot to fly the Japanese Torpedo
Bomber "KATE"; Air Development Squadron Four ((VX-4); and Flight Test
(58-60) at NATC Patuxent River MD. He was designated as Navy Jet pilot #62
- flying P-80As, P-59s, and FR-1s.

CAPT Earnest rounded out his Naval career, serving in Paris France as
COMSTRIKFLTLANTREPEUR and SACLANTREPEUR in the early '60's before retiring
from the Assistant Chief of Staff (Logistics) billet, at SACLANT, Norfolk VA
in 1972.

We have lost another WWII hero and one of the last survivors of the Battle
of Midway.
He will be missed,
Sad regards,
H.W. Blot Pilot

TheDreadnought Sponsoring Member of TMP07 Nov 2009 9:31 a.m. PST

Holy crap! Three Navy Crosses? The only pilot survivor of Torpedo 8?

This guy's obit should be on cnn.com!

Sadly, I doubt it will be. :( I hope people treated him with the respect and admiration he deserved.

highlandcatfrog07 Nov 2009 11:15 a.m. PST

At Midway, a detachment of 6 TBF Avengers from VT-8 was based on the island itself. They, with their 3-man crews, were (simultaneous with 4 Army B-26 bombers carrying torpedoes) the first to attack the Japanese carriers on the morning of June 4, an attack made without fighter escort.

5 of the 6 Avengers were shot down with all crewmen KIA. Earnest's (IIRC he was an Ensign at the time) was the only TBF to struggle back to Midway. One of his crewmen was dead, Earnest and the other crewman were both wounded. The plane was so badly shot up it was scrapped.

The rest of Torpedo 8 flew from the Hornet at the battle. 15 TBD Devastators, with 2-man crews, attacked the Japanese carriers a bit later in the morning. All 15 were shot down, the only survivor from this group was one of the pilots, Ensign George Gay.

So in total, VT-8 attacked with 48 men in 21 planes. Only 3 men, all wounded, survived. Earnest's plane was the only one to return to base, though it was too badly damaged to ever be flown again.

Thank you Capt. Earnest and rest in peace, you've certainly earned it. May we be worthy of your heroism and courage.

Dan Wideman II07 Nov 2009 2:53 p.m. PST

I always knew about the flight of Avengers based on Midway, but I didn't know they were a detachment of VT-8. Were they there because the Hornet lacked the capacity to carry them? Or, was it a case of the Avenger being in the trial phase so the squadron was over strength?

highlandcatfrog07 Nov 2009 6:28 p.m. PST

Both.

VT-8 was going to be switched over to Avengers, the 6 in the detachment were the first ones to arrive in theatre.

Hornet didn't have the space to carry the Avengers as well as her full complement of Devastators. Since the TBD pilots knew nothing about the TBF (and may not have even seen one) they weren't going to be able to fly the TBFs, and the powers that be didn't want to break up the guys who had been training together, so Hornet left Pearl Harbor with the TBDs.

Nimitz, wanting to reinforce Midway as much as possible, found out the TBFs had enough range (just barely) to make the flight from Pearl to Midway, so he ordered them there (TBDs didn't have enough range to make that flight). The VT-8 TBF detachment thus arrived on the island a few days before the battle without ever having been aboard Hornet.

Tom Bryant Supporting Member of TMP07 Nov 2009 11:25 p.m. PST

What a career! Bravo Zulu Capt. Earnest and thank you for your sacrifice sir. Godspeed and fair winds sir. May we be worthy.

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member07 Nov 2009 11:43 p.m. PST

There is a good article on VT-8 at Midway in the Jan 2010 issue of WWII History magazine from Military Heritage. It barely mentions the TBFs though :(. Robert

Shagnasty09 Nov 2009 9:06 a.m. PST

The US Navy's greatest day. Thank you Captain Ernest, "Tex" Gay and all the rest of those gallant men. RIP.

Tommiatkins Inactive Member15 Nov 2009 2:26 p.m. PST

A pity I only heard about this hero by his death.
Thanks Albert for your courage and service.

Lion in the Stars Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2009 1:46 p.m. PST

Godspeed, CAPT Ernest. May you fly with the angels forevermore.

Holy crap! Three Navy Crosses? The only pilot survivor of Torpedo 8?

This guy's obit should be on cnn.com!


Quoted for Truth.

ekessler50716 Nov 2009 3:40 p.m. PST

Amen!

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