Friday, October 1, 2010

Family Friday - Rear Admiral Paul Holmberg

Today's family history lesson brings you, my great uncle Paul, World War II hero. I am only going to talk about his time at the Battle of Midway today.

Uncle Paul, who then was a lieutenant, piloted a SBD dive bomber on June 4, 1942 and scored a direct hit on an ordnance loaded elevator on the Japanese carrier Akagi. Quoting from his hometown newspaper:

The resulting holocaust was further fueled by scattered bombs that exploded among planes waiting to take-off on the flight deck. The Akagi, one of the carriers which launched the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor six months previously was consumed by raging fires and later sank, taking many of her crew and airmen with her.

Wow, pretty cool. But there is more. His own aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown, was on fire by Japanese fliers and he was forced to ditch in the ocean. He was picked up by the USS Astoria.

He was awarded the Navy Cross for this effort. And he was awarded a Gold Star for his participation in the sinking of the Ryujo, in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons during the Guadalcanal campaign.

I am just amazed at what normal people go through in life. How frightening to know you are putting your airplane down in the water during a battle! What must one think at that time? I would be freaking out, but was he? Or was he the "John Wayne" type - no cry of fear? I don't know, but I do know he did something amazing.

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