A Dawn Like Thunder
Tornado Squadron EightA Dawn Like ThunderRobert J. MrazekWorld War II Navy PilotsBattle of Midway

Ensign William W. Abercrombie (1914-1942)

KIA, Midway, June 4, 1942
Awarded Navy Cross

William Warner Abercrombie was born on July 24, 1914, in Medford, Oregon. A big, sandy-haired man with a self-deprecating sense of humor, Abercrombie had worked in the meat-packing plants of Kansas City. He enlisted in the navy as a Seaman 2nd class in Kansas City, Kansas on August 27, 1940. After undergoing elimination flight training at the Naval Reserve Aviation Base, he accepted an appointment as an aviation cadet, winning his wings at Pensacola in July, 1941. Promoted to Ensign, he joined Torpedo Squadron 8 in Norfolk on September 2, 1941.

They called him “Abbie.” Once when they were lost on a training mission, he radioed Waldron to ask, “How far are we from Kansas City?” That became a favorite line for other members of the squadron. When the training got tough, he jokingly demanded a transfer to submarine duty in Missouri. He didn’t like the idea of flying the slow torpedo bombers and called them the “coffin squadron.”

When Waldron gave the squadron his final speech just before their final mission, Abercrombie cut the tension by saying, “Don’t worry, we’ll be back, skipper.”


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