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

George Henry Gay Jr. (1917-1993)

Veteran, Midway, Guadalcanal
Awarded Navy Cross

Ensign George H. Gay was born in Waco, Texas on March 8, 1917. His first flight in airplane took place at the Texas State fair in Dallas when his grandmother agreed to accompany him up in a Ford Tri-Motor after his parents refused his request. “I came here in a covered wagon, and I’m not afraid of that thing,” she said. Neither was he. From then on he wanted to fly. He had completed his sophomore year at Texas A&M when the war in Europe convinced him America would soon get into it. He joined the navy in February, 1941. After receiving his wings at Pensacola, he joined Torpedo Squadron 8 in Norfolk. Nicknamed “Tex,” he was considered one of the squadron’s better pilots.

During their final attack against the Japanese fleet, he saw all his squadron mates die as the Zeros shot them out of the sky. Remembering Waldron’s final words about what the last man must do, he headed straight for the nearest carrier and successfully launched his torpedo in the face of massive anti-aircraft fire. It missed or did not explode.

Badly wounded, his gunner already dead, Gay crashed into the sea, after which his tiny rubber raft was strafed by Japanese pilots. With all the Japanese fighter planes at low altitude, the U.S. dive bombers came in unmolested at their higher altitude and launched their devastating attack, sinking three of the four Japanese carriers as Gay watched from the sea.


entire site copyright Robert J. Mrazek 2008