Oswald A. Powers

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Oswald Aaron Powers
Oswald A. Powers.jpg
Oswald A. Powers at Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii, on 29 May 1942, six days before his death in action during the Battle of Midway
Born(1915-11-25)November 25, 1915
Marine City, Michigan
DiedJune 4, 1942(1942-06-04) (aged 26)
Pacific Ocean, near Midway Atoll
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Navy
Years of service1940–1942
UnitTorpedo Squadron 3
Battles/warsBattle of Midway, World War II
AwardsNavy Cross

Oswald A. Powers (1915–1942) was a United States Navy officer who received the Navy Cross posthumously for his actions in combat during World War II.

Naval career[edit]

Oswald Aaron Powers was born in Marine City, Michigan, on 25 November 1915. He enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve as a seaman 2nd class, V-5, USNR, on 6 November 1940 at the United States Naval Reserve Aviation Base Grosse Ile at Grosse Ile, Michigan, and was placed on inactive duty that same day. Reporting for elimination flight training at Grosse Ile on 15 November 1940, he satisfactorily completed that instruction on 14 December 1940, and was retained on active duty. Appointed aviation cadet, USNR, on 5 February 1941, to rank from 1 February 1941, he was transferred to Naval Air Station Pensacola at Pensacola, Florida, on 6 February 1941, and was issued a good discharge as a seaman 2nd class on 9 February 1941 to accept his appointment as aviation cadet.

Reporting to Naval Air Station Pensacola on 10 February 1941, Powers accepted his appointment and executed the oath of office the same day. Detached on 15 July 1941 and transferred to Naval Air Station Miami at Miami, Florida, for "further active duty undergoing training,"[1] Powers was appointed a "naval aviator (heavier than air)" on 12 August 1941. Released from "active duty involving training"[1] on 5 September 1941, he reported to Naval Air Station Miami that same day, the same day he also accepted his appointment and executed the oath of office as ensign, A-V(N), USNR. Five days later, on 10 September 1941, Ensign Powers was detached from NAS Miami and was transferred to the Advanced Carrier Training Group, United States Pacific Fleet, at Naval Air Station San Diego in San Diego, California, reporting for "active duty involving flying under training"[1] on 3 October 1941. Detached from Naval Air Station San Diego on 4 November 1941, he reported to Torpedo Squadron 3 (VT-3), based aboard the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3), on 5 November 1941.

After a Japanese submarine torpedoed Saratoga on 11 January 1942 and her subsequent departure for repairs at Puget Sound Navy Yard in Bremerton, Washington, VT-3 was based ashore, first at Naval Air Station Pearl Harbor on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, standing alert duty for island defense, then at Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, whence the squadron trained and continued to stand alerts.

On 30 May 1942, assigned to the air group of aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5), replacing Torpedo Squadron 5 (VT-5) aboard Yorktown, VT-3 flew aboard as Yorktown departed Pearl Harbor to participate in what would become known as the Battle of Midway. On 4 June 1942, Yorktown launched VT-3 and Bombing Squadron 3 (VB-3), covered by fighters from Fighting Squadron 3 (VF-3), to attack the Japanese aircraft carrier force in concert with a strike from aircraft carriers USS Enterprise (CV-6) and USS Hornet (CV-8). Circumstances, however, dictated that only the Yorktown Air Group attacked as a unit, with VT-3 the last of the three American carrier torpedo squadrons to execute brave low-level attacks against the Japanese carriers. Japanese Mitsubishi A6M2 Type 00 carrier fighters, however, overwhelmed the six-plane VF-3 covering element, and, in concert with heavy antiaircraft fire from the Japanese carriers and their screening ships, shot down ten of the twelve VT-3's Douglas TBD-1 Devastator torpedo bombers participating in the raid. Ensign Powers and his radio gunner, Seaman 2nd Class Joseph E. Mandeville, perished in the attack.

Powers was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously for his "self-sacrificing gallantry and fortitude...in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service..."[1]


The U.S. Navy destroyer escort USS Oswald A. Powers (DE-452), launched in 1943 but never completed, was named for Ensign Powers.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 This quote, from the Dictionary of American Fighting Ships (at http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/o4/oswald_a_powers.htm) is unattributed.


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

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