Segment 3


The F4Fs [Annotator's Note: Grumman F4F Wildcats, American carrier-based fighter aircraft] were about even with the Zeros [Annotato's note: Japanese fighter aircraft]. The US had some really great fighter pilots. Wade McClusky and Roger Malee were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Cleo Dobson and Kleiss were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.The F4Fs did have firing problems. The SBDs [Annotator's note: Douglas SBD Dauntless, naval dive bombers] were the best planes in the world at that time. It was the first plane with a fairly good oxygen system on it. They were great dive bombers.During a dive they would pull out around 1,500 feet.The SBD was armed with .50 caliber machine guns and twin .30 caliber machine guns operated by the radioman/gunner. Kleiss had John Snowden as a rear seat gunner.The TBDs [Annotator's note: Douglas TBD Devastator, US Navy torpedo bombers] were the worst planes at the time and their torpedoes were equally as useless. In the Marshall islands, some ships anchored in a lagoon were attacked by 8 torpedo planes. There were no hits.At Coral Sea some of the torpedo plane pilots made an anvil attack on the Hosho [Annotator's note: Japanese aircraft carrier Hosho]. A number of SBD pilots in the area saw the torpedos hit the Hosho and the ship went down. This success boosted the morale of the torpedo plane pilots and made them think that the torpedoes worked.The Japanese also believed that the torpedoes worked.On 3 May [Annotator's Note: Kleiss means 3 June 1942] Kleiss was in the ready room ready to take off at any time. They received a report that the enemy had been sighted. The report only said "main body." They later got a message from Admiral Nimitz that those ships were not their target.The next morning they had steak and eggs for breakfast at around 4:00 in the morning. When they had steak and eggs they knew that they were in for a bad day.


All oral histories featured on this site are available to license. The videos will be delivered via mail as Hi Definition video on DVD/DVDs or via file transfer. You will be purchasing the oral history in its entirety but will be free to use only specific clips. Please contact the Museum at if you are interested in licensing this content. Please allow up to two weeks for file delivery or delivery of the DVD to your postal address. See more information at