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Lieutenant George H. Gay, Jr., USNR, (1917-1994)

George H. Gay, Jr. was born in Waco, Texas, on 8 March 1917. He entered the Navy in 1941. After completing flight training and receiving his commission in September 1941, Ensign Gay was assigned to Torpedo Squadron Eight (VT-8). On 4 June 1942, while operating from USS Hornet (CV-8) during the Battle of Midway, his squadron was wiped out while making an unsupported torpedo attack on the Japanese carrier force. Gay was the only survivor of the thirty pilots and radiomen in that attack. While swimming after his plane went down, he observed the dive bombing attack that destroyed three of the four Japanese carriers present.

Ensign Gay was rescued by a seaplane the following day. After recovering from his injuries, he served in Torpedo Squadron Eleven (VT-11) during the Guadalcanal Campaign, and was later a flight instructor. He was also active making public appearances in support of the war effort. Following the end of World War II, he remained in the Naval Reserve into the 1950s and was a pilot with Trans-World Airlines for thirty years. George Gay died on 21 October 1994.

This page features a views of George H. Gay prior to and during his Navy service.

Click image for a larger view


Photo #: NH 70340

George H. Gay, Jr.


Photographed circa 1936-38, in ROTC uniform, while attending Texas A&M. He became a Navy officer in 1941, after flight training. Ensign Gay served with Torpedo Squadron Eight (VT-8) on USS Hornet (CV-8), and was the only survivor of thirty Hornet torpedo plane pilots and aircrewmen who attacked the Japanese fleet on 4 June 1942, during the Battle of Midway.

U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 57KB; 600 x 765 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 93595

Torpedo Squadron Eight (VT-8) Pilots


Photographed on board USS Hornet (CV-8), circa mid-May 1942, shortly before the Battle of Midway.
They are identified in Photo # NH 93595 (Complete Caption).

Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, MD.

U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 92KB; 740 x 525 pixels

 
Photo #: 80-G-17678

Battle of Midway, June 1942


Ensign George H. Gay at Pearl Harbor Naval Hospital, with a nurse and a copy of the "Honolulu Star-Bulletin" newspaper featuring accounts of the battle. He was the only survivor of the 4 June 1942 Torpedo Squadron Eight (VT-8) TBD torpedo plane attack on the Japanese carrier force.
Gay's book "Sole Survivor" indicates that the date of this photograph is probably 7 June 1942, following an operation to repair his injured left hand and a meeting with Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. National Archives.

Online Image: 86KB; 580 x 765 pixels

Reproductions may also be available through the National Archives.

 
Photo #: NH 90482

Ensign George H. Gay
(left) and
Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Elbert S. McCuskey

With McCuskey's F4F-4 "Wildcat" fighter, June 1942, following the Battle of Midway. Note seven "victory" flags painted below the cockpit.
Ensign Gay was the sole Battle of Midway aircrew survivor of USS Hornet's Torpedo Squadron Eight. During the battle, McCuskey served with USS Yorktown's Fighting Squadron Three.

Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, MD.

U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 87KB; 740 x 620 pixels

 
Photo #: 80-G-K-3516 (Color)

USS Midway (CVB-41)


Ship's sponsor, Mrs. Bradford D. Ripley, II, of Dayton, Ohio, poses with the christening bottle, at launching ceremonies at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Newport News, Virginia, 20 March 1945.
Mrs. Ripley is accompanied by Lieutenant George Gay, USNR, the only survivor of the Battle of Midway attack by Torpedo Squadron Eight (VT-8) from USS Hornet (CV-8).

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. National Archives.

Online Image: 72KB; 740 x 640 pixels

Reproductions may also be available through the National Archives.

 

For higher resolution images see: Obtaining Photographic Reproductions

To the best of our knowledge, the pictures referenced here are all in the Public Domain, and can therefore be freely downloaded and used for any purpose.




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