Bertram S. Varian Jr.

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Bertram Stetson Varian Jr.
Born(1920-11-26)November 26, 1920
Weiser, Idaho
DiedJune 5, 1942(1942-06-05) (aged 21)
vicinity of Midway Atoll
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Naval Reserve
Years of service1940–1942
UnitBombing Squadron 6 (VB-6)
Battles/warsWorld War II
*Battle of Midway
AwardsNavy Cross

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.[1]


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.

See also[edit]

Other articles of the topics Biography AND World War II : Angus R. Goss, Fay B. Begor, Merrit Cecil Walton, Welton Ralph Abell, Francisco Mercado Jr., William Frank Seiverling Jr., Jaime Sabater Sr.

Other articles of the topic Biography : Earle B. Hall, Jack E. Foley, William Bowery (American Songwriter), Jean-Yves Adam, Lists of celebrities, Yorgan de Castro, Lesa Wilson

Other articles of the topic World War II : Doyle Clayton Barnes, Merrit Cecil Walton, Paul Rogers (soldier), John Leon Williamson, Thomas Mack Wilhoite, George Emerson Conklin, Jasper Intermediate Field
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  1. "Valor awards for Bertram Stetson Varian, Jr". Military Times Hall of Valor. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

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