Bertram S. Varian Jr.
Bertram Stetson Varian Jr.
|Born||November 26, 1920|
|Died||June 5, 1942 (aged 21)|
vicinity of Midway Atoll
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||United States Naval Reserve|
|Years of service||1940–1942|
|Unit||Bombing Squadron 6 (VB-6)|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
*Battle of Midway
Bertram Stetson Varian Jr. (26 November 1920 – 5 June 1942) was a naval aviator in the United States Navy during World War II who was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his part on the attack that crippled the Japanese carrier Akagi in the Battle of Midway.
Varian was born on 26 November 1920 at Weiser, Idaho. His father, Bertram S. Varian Sr., was an Idaho judge who would later serve as a Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court. Varian enlisted in the Navy as a seaman 2d class on 3 December 1940 at Boise, Idaho, and received an appointment as aviation cadet on 15 February of the following year. Following flight training at Pensacola, Fla., he was designated a naval aviator on 8 September 1941 and was commissioned an ensign in the United States Naval Reserve on 4 October.
Varian received further instruction with the Advanced Carrier Training Group and reported to Enterprise (CV-6) on 3 April 1942, joining Bombing Squadron 6 (VB-6). Flying from Enterprise during the pivotal Battle of Midway on 5 June 1942, he flew with the third division of "Bombing Six" in their attack against the Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi. VB-6 pressed home their attack — often diving to very low altitudes to ensure their bomb's delivery — and severely crippled Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo's flagship.
The victory had not been attained without cost, however, as only a third of the 15 Douglas SBD Dauntlesses that Enterprise launched earlier that day returned to their carrier. Among those lost were Ensign Varian and his gunner, ARM3c C. R. Young, who were forced to take to their rubber boat when their plane ditched 50 miles (90 km) northeast of the Japanese task force. They were never seen again.
For his "extraordinary heroism" and "distinguished service" in pressing home his attack against heavy odds and knowing that very little fuel remained with which to return to friendly forces, Ensign Varian received a posthumous Navy Cross.
In 1943, the destroyer escort USS Varian (DE-798) was named in honor of Ens. Varian, sponsored by his sister, Mrs. Arnold F. Brunkow.
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This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
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