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George M. Campbell

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George Marvin Campbell
Born(1907-01-07)January 7, 1907
Madras, Oregon
DiedJune 4, 1942(1942-06-04) (aged 35)
Pacific Ocean, near Midway Atoll
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Navy
Years of service1928–1942
RankLieutenant, junior grade
UnitTorpedo Squadron 8
Battles/warsWorld War II
*Battle of Midway
AwardsNavy Cross

George M. Campbell (1907–1942) was a United States Navy officer. He was killed in action at the Battle of Midway while attacking in a Torpedo aircraft the Empire of Japan's aircraft carrier.

Campbell was born on January 7, 1907 in Madras, Oregon. He was the ninth of a dozen children in his family. His father was a dairy farmer who also piloted a ferry across the Deschutes River.[1] He attended a one room schoolhouse.[1] He excelled at basketball in high school, and was part of a team that won a state championship in 1925.[1]

He attended Oregon State University.[1]

On June 27, 1928, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.[1][2] After boot camp, he spent eight months aboard the USS Lexington (CV-2). He did flight training in Pensacola, Florida and received his wings in 1930. While in that training, he met and married Genevieve Thompson, by whom he had a daughter, Shirley, born in 1932.[1]

He served as a flight instructor beginning in 1938. At the dawn of the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, he had become one of the Navy's most experienced pilots. "John Waldron relied on him as a teacher and mentor to the younger pilots." He was promoted to Lieutenant (junior grade) in February, 1942.[1]

In 1942 Campbell underwent more flight training and was appointed Lieutenant, junior grade, on April 2, 1942.

He joined Torpedo Squadron 8 on board the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) just in time to take part in the Battle of Midway.[1]

VT-8's first and best-known combat mission came during the Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942. Flying obsolete Douglas TBD Devastators, all of Lieutenant Commander John C. Waldron's fifteen planes were shot down during their unescorted torpedo attack on Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carriers. The squadron failed to damage any Japanese carriers or destroy enemy aircraft.

Only one member of VT-8 who flew from Hornet on that day survived in the action, Ensign George Gay.[3][4] Ensign Gay was rescued the day following the battle. Torpedo 8 was afterwards awarded the American Presidential Unit Citation.[5] As Ensign Gay tells it, the flight was chancy at best. They had never done an attack with torpedoes, and in fact had never even taken off from a carrier with torpedoes. Their equipment was old, and the efficacy of their armament was questionable. He thought that the absence of even a single fighter plane to cover may have made the difference. Nevertheless, he thinks that the low level attack, which drew down the Japanese fighter air cover, opened up the skies for the successful attack by the dive bombers, and that this attack should be given that credit. In passing, Gay thinks that his sole survival, after being shot down, was just a matter of luck.[5]

Piloting a Douglas TBD-1 Devastator torpedo bomber during the battle, Campbell took off with his squadron on June 4, 1942 to intercept the Japanese fleet, and without fighter cover attacked the enemy aircraft carriers against murderous opposition. Knowing full well that they had insufficient fuel to return to Hornet, the Torpedo Squadron 8 crews pressed their attack gallantly until all were shot down. Campbell was listed as presumed dead on June 5, 1942. Campbell was awarded the Navy Cross for his heroic actions at Midway.[2] He was killed in action during the attack.[1]

15 planes were launched as part of Torpedo VT-8 from the USS Hornet. All but one were lost. Six of the fourteen pilots were honored by appending their names to destroyers or destroyer escorts. Three AP/ex-APs were lost in action, namely piloted by: Jefferson D. Woodson, Robert B. Miles and George M. Campbell were lost in action.[6]


The U.S. Navy destroyer escort USS George M. Campbell (DE-773), laid down by the Tampa Shipbuilding Company at Tampa, Florida, was launched in 1944 but never completed, was named for Campbell. The construction contract was cancelled, and she was towed to Charleston, South Carolina. Stripped for parts, she was scrapped.[2][7][circular reference][self-published source?]

Two short films deal with the men and the achievements of Torpedo Squadron 8 Midway.[8] Highlighting the 30 men in the Aircraft Carrier Hornet's torpedo squadron, director John Ford did an 8 minute long short documentary filmed during the Battle of Midway.[9][10]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Mrazak, Robert J. (October 26, 2009). A Dawn Like Thunder: The True Story of Torpedo Squadron Eight. New York: Little, Brown and Company, Hachette Digital, Inc., Back Bay Books. ISBN 978-0-316-02139-5. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Mooney, James L. (1968). George M. Campbell. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. 3. Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy. p. 78. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  3. Rose 1995, pp. 128–132, 146–149.
  4. Mitscher & 13 June 1942.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Oldham, Chuck, Editor (June 4, 2012). "The Battle of Midway: The Sole Survivor of Torpedo Squadron 8". Defense Media Network. Retrieved January 29, 2021.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  6. Kelly, Harold H.; Silver Eagles Association; Riley, William A. (2002). Enlisted Naval Aviation Pilots (Hardcover). Paducah, Kentucky USA: Turner Publishing Company. p. 35. ISBN 9781563111105. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  7. "USS GEORGE M. CAMPBELL (DE-773)". World Heritage Encyclopedia.
  8. "Torpedo Squadron 8 Midway" (Video) (Film). National Museum of the Pacific War – via YouTube.
  9. Ford, John (1942). Torpedo Squadron.
  10. Bogdanovich, Peter (1978). John Ford. University of California Press. p. 132. ISBN 978-0520034983. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png

Other articles of the topic World War II : Richard Alonzo Jaccard, Harold John Ellison, Clarence Lee Evans, George Emerson Conklin, Eugene Morland Key, Andrew F. Cook Jr., Raymond Frybarger Jr.
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