Ens. Charles E. Brannon, known as Charlie to his friends, was one of the pilots killed from VT-8 during the Battle of Midway. For his bravery that day he was awarded the Navy Cross and the Purple Heart posthumously. His story is one of the little told events of the Battle of Midway. He was part of a 6 crew detachment that flew from the Island of Midway instead of the USS Hornet that day. Of the 6 TBF's that took off from Midway Island June 4, 1942 to find and attack the Japanese, only one plane made it back to Midway carrying 2 wounded crewman and 1 killed in action.
When the TBF Grumman Avenger became available, some crews of VT-8 were detached from the main squadron to train in the new plane, while the main group continued to fly the TBD Devastator off the USS Hornet. VT-8 was the first squadron in the US Navy to be able to fly the Avenger and the first to take her into combat. Most of the TBF detachment stayed in Hawaii during the battle, however 6 of crews were sent to Midway to help bolster the defenses of the Island. Ens. Brannon was one of the men hand selected for the task by Lt. Larsen.
At 6:00 AM June 4, 1942 Ensign Brannon and his crew ( Charles E. Fair and William C. Lawe ) took off from Midway to attack the Japanese. At 7:00 they found them. Lt Fieberling led his men in an attack on the ships and the rest is history. Only one plane flown by Ens Earnest survived to tell the story of what had happened to the 6 plane force.
Later the same day Lt. Cdr. Waldron led the main section of VT-8 in an attack on the Japanese fleet with equally grim results. Only Ens. George Gay survived. His story is well known by students of history.
In 1944 a Destroyer Escort the USS Charles E. Brannon was commissioned, named for him.
This thread is a tribute to the brave men who flew that day.
Photo of Charles Brannon as an Aviation Cadet taken in 1941:
BRANNON, CHARLES E. (MIA-KIA)
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Charles E. Brannon (0-105955), Ensign, U.S. Navy (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Torpedo Plane of Torpedo Squadron EIGHT (VT-8), embarked from Naval Air Station Midway during the "Air Battle of Midway," against enemy Japanese forces on 4 and 5 June 1942. In the first attack against an enemy carrier of the Japanese invasion fleet, Ensign Brannon pressed home his attack in the face of withering fire from enemy Japanese fighters and anti-aircraft forces. Because of events attendant upon the Battle of Midway, there can be no doubt that he gallantly gave up his life in the service of his country. His courage and utter disregard for his own personal safety were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 310 (January 1943)
Born: August 2, 1919 at Montgomery, Alabama
Home Town: Montgomery, Alabama
Edited by KASTAUFFER, 10 February 2013 - 03:38 PM.