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

Ensign Grant W. Teats (191?-1942)

KIA, Midway, June 4, 1942
Awarded Navy Cross

A rough-hewn man with rugged good looks, Grant Teats was born in Sheridan, Oregon. He grew up the son of a school principal. After graduating from high school, he went to Oregon State College, where he was an outstanding student, football player, and middle distance track star for Coach Grant "Doc" Swan's “cindermen.” A member of Theta Chi fraternity, Teats graduated with a degree in engineering in 1940. After college, he worked as a lumberjack.

Taking up flying at OSU, Teats left for Pensacola for training as a naval aviator, eventually landing a spot with Waldron’s Squadron 8. The biggest man in the outfit, he was first nicknamed “Teatso.” Early on, the other men learned to never deliberately mispronounce his name. Strong as a steer, he later acquired the nickname, “Plywood,” after Commander Waldron chose him to deliver a lecture to the squadron on any subject while the men were waiting for the weather to clear before a practice mission. Stepping to the lectern at the front of the ready room, he announced, “Gentlemen, I have been informed that this organization is ignorant of the fine art of manufacturing plywood.”

He then proceeded to spend an hour detailing the process from felling the tree to the final product. An individualist, Teats was used to running his own life, and didn’t like a lot of the navy regulations on dress and behavior.


entire site copyright Robert J. Mrazek 2008