Medical Tuesday Blog

Never Call Me a Hero

Jan 3

Written by: Del Meyer
01/03/2019 3:32 AM 

A legendary American Dive-Bomber Pilot Remembers The Battle of Midway

by N. Jack “Dusty” Kleiss with Timothy and Laura Orr

Awarded the Navy Cross

The Foreword is written by Jill Kleiss in the first person referring to the author as “dad.” She learned much about her father’s Navy experience at dinner time during which he revealed slowly over his lifetime. Finally she learned more from the historical documents he had.

The New York Times refers to the battle of the Midway as the decisive contest for control of the Pacific in World War II. As the last survivor of the Midway battle, he was finally persuaded to record the events in his tenth decade of life. He states he remembers the events as if they occurred yesterday. At the time of his discharge he had many other things on his mind to reminisce about the war—getting married, a family, and a Navy Career being a graduate of the Naval Academy.  Four Japanese Aircraft Carriers were destroyed during the Battle of the Midway June 4-5, 1942. His account of the three he was involved in are recorded on the dust jacket. He covers many of the battles in the Pacific. His major heroic battle was the Midway. 

“On the morning of June 4, 1942, high above the tine Pacific atoll of Midway, Lt (j.g.) “Dusty” Kleiss burst out of the clouds and piloted his SBD Dauntless into a near-vertical dive aimed at the heart of Japan’s imperial Navy, which six months earlier had ruthlessly struck Pearl Harbor. The greatest naval battle in history raged around him, its outcome hanging in the balance as the U. S. desperately searched for its first major victory of the Second World War. Then, in a matter of seconds, Dusty Kleiss’s daring 20,000-foot dive helped forever alter the war’s trajectory.

“Plummeting through the air at 240 knots amid blistering anti-aircraft fire, the twenty-six-year-old pilot from the USS Enterprise’s elite Scouting Squadron Six fixed on an invaluable target—the aircraft carrier Kaga, one of Japan’s most important capital ships. He released three bombs at the last possible instant, then desperately pulled out of the gut-wrenching 9-g dive. As his plane leveled out just above the roiling Pacific Ocean, Dusty’s perfectly placed bombs struck the carrier’s deck, and Kaga erupted into an inferno from which it would never recover.

“Arriving safely back at Enterprise, Dusty was met with heartbreaking news: his best friend was missing and presumed dead along with two dozen of the fellow naval aviators. Unbowed, Dusty returned to the air that same afternoon and, remarkably, would fatally strike another enemy carrier, Hiryu. Two days later, his deadeye aim contributed to the destruction of a third Japanese warship, the cruiser Mikum, thereby making Dusty the only pilot from either side to land hits on three different ships, all of which sank—loss that crippled the once-fearsome Japanese fleet.

“By battle’s end, the humble young sailor from Kansas had earned his place in history—and yet he stayed silent for decades, living quietly with his wife, Jean, whom he married less than a month after Midway. This extraordinary and long-awaited memoir tells the Naval Cross recipient’s full story for the first time, offering an intimate look at the “decisive contest for control of the Pacific in World War II”—and one man’s essential role in helping secure its outcome.

Dusty devotes a significant tribute to his wife, Jean, and the letters from her and to her that his daughter uncovered. This was a significant love story about his wife of 60-years, who died in 2006. He attributes his survival in many battles to his wife and God. His comments about “you and God” are frequent in his letters to his wife.

There are also a number of photographs of his childhood and family over the years and thus is a significant autobiography of his life.

Dusty has also included a number naval photographs taken from the USS Enterprise, as well as from the plane’s cameras showing the actual bombs as they hit the Japanese carriers. The American task force under the command of Admiral Nimitz managed to put four of the Japanese Navy’s carriers out of action at a cost of one American carrier.

He pays tribute to his co-authors, Timothy J. Orr who is an associate professor military history at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Lawfer Orr is the deputy education director at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, the U. S. Navy’s official museum in Norfolk.

This book has been made into a movie with Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, Logan Ramsey, James Roosevelt.  THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY original movie poster of CHARLTON HESTON/ROBERT MITCHUM is on sale on multiple outlets for $200 or more.

This review is found at

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