Farewell to the Last VMF-221 Pilot at Midway

Discussion in 'Stories' started by buffnut453, Jan 27, 2010.

  1. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    #1 buffnut453, Jan 27, 2010
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2010
    The last remaining Marine fighter pilot from the battle of Midway was buried last weekend , with full military honors, in Bellview , NE.

    William Brooks got out of the Marines at the end of WWII as a Major. In addition to the Buffalo he flew the Wildcat, Hellcat and Corsair.

    Here is a copy of his action at Midway;

    2nd Lieutenant William. V. Brooks

    I was pilot of F2A-3, Bureau number 01523, Our division under Capt. Armistead was on standby duty at he end of the runway on the morning of June 4, 1942, from 0415 until 0615. At about 0600, the alarm sounded and we took off. My division climbed rapidly, and I was having a hard time keeping up. I discovered afterwards that although my wheels indicator and hydraulic pressure indicator both registered "wheels up", they were in reality about 1/3 of the way down. We sighted the enemy at about 14,000 feet, I would say that there were 40 to 50 planes. At this time Lt. Sandoval was also dropping back. My radio was at this time putting out no volume, so I could not get the message from Zed. At 17,000 feet, Capt. Armistead led the attack followed closely by Capt. Humberd. They went down the left of the Vee , leaving two planes burning. Lt. Sandoval went down the right side of the formation and I followed. One of us got a plane from the right side of the Vee. At this time, I had completely lost sight of my division. As I started to pull up for another run on the bombers, I was attacked by two fighters. Because my wheels being jammed 1/3 way down, I could not out dive these planes, but managed to dodge them and fire a burst or so into them as they went past me and as I headed for the water. As I circled the island, the anti-aircraft fire drove them away. My tabs, instruments and cockpit were shot up to quite an extent at this time and I was intending to come in for a landing.
    It was at this time that I noticed that a important feature in their fighting. I saw two planes dog-fighting over in the east, and decided to go help my friend if at all possible. My plane was working very poorly, and my climb was slow. As I neared the fight both planes turned on me. It was then that I realized I had been tricked in a sham battle put on by two Japs and I failed to recognize this because of the sun in my eyes. Then I say I was out-numbered, I turned and made a fast retreat for the island, collecting a goodly number of bullets on the way. After one of these planes had been shaken, I managed to get a good burst into another as we passed head-on when I turned into him. I don't believe this ship could have gotten back to his carrier, because he immediately turned away and started north and down. I again decided to land, but as I circled the island I saw two Japs on a Brewster. Three of my guns were jammed, but I cut across the island, firing as I went with one gun. But I could not get there in time to help the American flier and as soon as the Brewster had gone into the water I came in for a landing at approximately 0715 (estimated).
    It is my belief that the Japs have a very maneuverable and very fast ship in their 00 fighters, plenty of fire-power . They can turn inside the Brewster, but of course on the speed I would be unable to say as my wheels were jammed about 1/3 way down all during the fight, causing considerable drag.
    My plane was damaged somewhat, having 72 bullet and cannon holes in it, and I had a very slight flash wound on my left leg.
    It is my express desire that Lt. Sandoval, deceased be logged up with the bomber which one of us got in our first run.


    I had the honour and privilege of meeting Bill Brooks a number of years ago. He was most gracious, patient and a true gentleman, welcoming myself, my wife and our 2-month old son into his home in Nebraska with his sweatheart. I was truly saddened to learn that he had departed for his final solo flight.

    Farewell Bill. You were truly one of a kind.

    Semper Fi!:salute:
     
  2. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Wow, I didnt realize they were down to the last pilot.
     
  3. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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  4. Heinz

    Heinz Active Member

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  5. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    :salute: 72 holes, wheels down, 3 guns jammed and he still tried to make a show of it! :salute:
     
  6. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    I know. Dang! :salute:
     
  7. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    It wasn't made crystal clear in the original post but Lt Sandoval was shot down and killed during the mission. I always found it amazing that, having been through such an experience, Bill's first thought was to have kills credited to one of his fallen comrades. Like I said, Bill was truly one of a kind.
     
  8. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

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    :salute: I remember his words in Gordon Prange's book. Rest easy Marine.
     
  9. Ferdinand Foch

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    :salute: Semper Fi. Rest easy now.
     
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    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Semper Fi Marine!

    :salute:
     
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    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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  15. owen

    owen New Member

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    Another of my great vet friends has left us. Bill Brooks was
    the last American to have flown a Buffalo in combat. He was
    a gracious gentleman. I remember the day the Buffalo arrived
    at NNAM in P'cola. I called him from the hangar to tell him
    about it. He was at the dentist but we got to tak about it
    later. He was very excited and even sent a nice check to
    help restore the bird. One of my greatest wishes was to
    get to show it to him one day. That won't happen now.

    One of the things HE most wanted to do was thank Gary
    Villard for rescuing the bird; Marine to Marine. That won't
    happen either. I hope the crybabies in Finland are happy.

    http://www.omaha.com/article/20100127/NEWS01/701279885
     
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