Bruce Ek, at center of the standing row, with other officers of VMSB-241 on Midway. Service Number: O-007534 Birth and Early Life: Bruce Ek was born around the year 1919; he was the youngest son of Swedish immigrants Fritz and Nellie Ek. The older Eks were mechanically minded – Fritz was a machinist and oldest son Fritz Junior worked for a garage – which may have influenced Bruce’s decision to join the most technical branch of the Marine Corps. Enlistment and Boot Camp: Bruce enlisted in 1941 and, after completing boot camp, aptitude tests, elimination training and months of flight school, was awarded a second lieutenant’s commission and his wings as a Marine dive bomber pilot. Wartime Service: Lieutenant Ek was assigned to the headquarters squadron of Marine Air Group 21 – formerly the Second Marine Aircraft Wing, based at Ewa Field, Hawaii. On March 24, 1942, Ek – along with a handful of other new lieutenants, including John Butler, Ellwood Lindsay, and Albert Tweedy – boarded the USS Curtiss and sailed for Midway. Ek flew a Vought SB2U Vindicator with VMSB-241 out of Midway; his gunner was PFC Raymond Brown. On May 26, the squadron received a few Douglas Dauntless SBD-2 dive bombers and the commanding officer, Major Lofton Henderson, divided his pilots into two groups. Ek and Brown were in the group that received the new aircraft, and flew in the second division of Henderson’s group on the wing of Lieutenant Richard Blain. Date Of Loss: Ek had only a few days to learn the controls of his new Dauntless, #2184. On the morning of June 4, 1942, he and PFC Brown took off from Midway and, as Japanese planes turned the base to rubble behind them, flew off to try and find the carrier strike force that was approaching their territory. After nearly ninety minutes in the air, the Americans spotted the carriers – and were in turn spotted by patrolling planes from the carrier Hiryu. The slow dive bombers, unable to dive properly due to the pilots inexperience, were easy targets. Soon, seven of the bombers were falling in flames – one of them carried Ek and Brown to their deaths. Bruce Ek’s remains were never found. He was awarded a posthumous Navy Cross for his actions in the battle: The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Bruce H. Ek (0-7534), Second Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession while serving as a Pilot in Marine Scout-Bombing Squadron TWO HUNDRED FORTY-ONE (VMSB-241), Marine Air Group TWENTY-TWO (MAG-22), Naval Air Station, Midway, during operations of the U.S. Naval and Marine Forces against the invading Japanese Fleet during the Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942. During the initial attack upon an enemy aircraft carrier, Second Lieutenant Ek, in the face of withering fire from Japanese fighter guns and anti-aircraft batteries, dived his plane to a perilously low altitude before releasing his bomb. Since he failed to return to his base and is missing in action, there can be no doubt, under conditions attendant to the Battle of Midway, that he gave up his life in the defense of his country. His cool courage and conscientious devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. Next Of Kin: Mother, Mrs. Nellie Ek Status Of Remains: Lost at sea. Memorial: Tablets of the Missing, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.