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Appendix V: Preparations of MAG-22 for Battle

The following account, written by Brigadier General Ira L. Kimes, who commanded Marine Air Group 22 prior to and during the battle of Midway, describes in detail the stress, strain, improvisation, and ingenuity of MAG-22;s preparations for the anticipated battle:

Until the sailing of the Kittyhawk for Honolulu, my staff was composed of Major L.B. Stedman, Jr., Group Executive Officer; Major Verne J. McCaul, Group Operations Officer and Group Intelligence Officer; Captain Robert R. Burns, Group Communications Officer, Assistant Group Operations Officer, and Group Adjutant. This was a period of intense activity that allowed myself and staff an average of some three to four hours rest during each 24-hour period. A large number of bunkers had to be constructed for the additional Army, Navy, and Marine Corps planes which we were informed would be sent out to participate in the defense of the islands. In the end, both sides of all runways were a continuous line of such bunkers and still there weren't enough. When an Army B-17 or Navy PBY5-A went on dawn patrol were moved into the vacated bunker for the day. A large amount of aviation gasoline in 50-gallon drums was dispersed and buried near these revetments against the possibility of our large tanks being destroyed. In the walls of each fighter or dive-bomber bunker, several drums of gas were buried except for a small part of the top end. B y keeping these filled from the two gas trucks, we always had a method of gassing our fighters and dive-bombers simultaneously and without having them exposed outside their protective bunkers. Reserve water-supply tanks were buried, and emergency rations were cached in most of the personnel dugouts. This proved fortunate since the evaporating plant and commissary stores were destroyed in the bombing, and some little time elapsed before distribution from Sand Island could be established. A very large number of 500- and 1,l000-pound bombs and fuses were received and stored. Some of these bombs had to have their fittings altered before they could be used on Army bomb racks. Underground shelter for additional personnel expected had to be provided and slit trenches for all hands constructed near their quarters and habitual place of employment. Then there was a stiff training schedule to prepare constant arrivals of new and inexperienced personnel for their part in the defense. Also frequent and important conferences with Captain Simard and Colonel Shannon. * * *

One addition during this time which did much to make our infrequent periods of rest more peaceful was the arrival of Marine Gunner Charles F. Finney, fresh from radar school in the United States and Canada. He immediately took over our radar station and did a magnificent job of preparing it and its personnel for the defense. All hand were very much radar-conscious, and Finney's fine work in that department paid large dividends before, during, and after the attack.

During this period (approximately 1 to 31 May), my administrative staff was greatly strengthened by the arrival of First Lieutenant Charles F. Hurlbut, a veteran of World War I, as Group Adjutant; Lt. (jg) Joseph O'Connell, (MC) USN; Lt. (jg) Raymond L. Cullen, (DC) USN; Marine Gunner William L. Staph, Quartermaster Clerk Willis R. Lucius, and enlisted personnel for Group Headquarters in the categories of clerical, supply, hospital, mess personnel, and radio operators. These additions lessened the burdens of the two squadrons, who prior to this time had been required to furnish a bare minimum to meet the requirements.

With the sailing of the USS Kittyhawk, however, went my executive officer, Major LB. Stedman, with no relief furnished. Major McCaul, already "out on his feet" from overwork and lack of adequate rest, took on the additional job of executive officer. I tried to lighten his burden as much as possible by performing some of the normal duties of this officer, but neither Captain Burns nor I was in noticeably better condition for the same reason. Some few days prior to this Major J.K. Warner, Air Corps, AUS, was sent out from Army

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Headquarters in Honolulu as a liaison officer. Not only did he do an outstanding job in that capacity, but before many days had passed we had practically made a Marine of him. Taking advantage of his capabilities and willingness, we assigned many tasks that would properly fall within the duties of an assistant executive and assistant operations officer. He was indeed a life-saver. Just as it seemed McCaul, Burns, and myself were completely exhausted (Major Warner had returned to Honolulu), Major Raymond C. Scollin, arrived by air on 2 June 1942. He was immediately handed enough work for six men, and I don't believe he touched his bunk until the night of 4 June, and then only for about three hours when I awakened him about 0400 to tell him that at about 0200 I had received a message that the Jap transports were about 70 miles away and headed toward Midway, and that I thought it would be well to alert the reserves (ground crews of VMF-221 and VMSB-241). I never saw as sleepy a man wake up as quickly!

So far nothing has been said about the work and performance of duty of the officers and men of the two squadrons, reinforced. The simple truth is that it beggars description, and to even attempt such a description would require days and days and fill hundreds of typewritten pages. Some of the young pilots who came out with the SBDs and F4F-3s on the USS Kittyhawk had not had as much as four hours' flying time since completing the final stages of flight training. They arrived on Midway on 26 May, and on 4 June were called upon to face the cream of Japanese naval aviation. How they answered this call has been attested to by many more able than I.

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