John C. Waldron memorialized with historic aircraft and artwork
VIDEO LINK OF WWII FIGHTERS HERE: https://vimeo.com/169319523
Battle of Midway hero John C. Waldron was remembered on the historic battle’s 74th anniversary in his home state of South Dakota. A native of Fort Pierre, the Memorial was placed in the Concourse of the Pierre/Ft. Pierre Regional Airport.
The Memorial comprises artwork created by aviation artist and filmmaker John Mollison of Waldron’s TBD Devastator torpedo airplane and a representation of the Navy Cross awarded to the entire “Torpedo 8” Squadron. Waldron, as well as 28 members of the squadron were killed during the attack.
Fort Pierre mayor Gloria Hanson and Pierre mayor Laurie Gill were among the dignitaries that spoke at the event, crediting Waldron with his historical significance and service to not only the state but the whole nation.
Four WWII aircraft were also flown in for the ceremony as an homage to Waldron’s leadership. The aircraft flew in formation over the John C. Waldron Bridge that links Pierre and Fort Pierre, providing the community with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to remember their local son and see rare, flying relics of World War Two.
Two aircraft in particular were of special historical importance—the TBM Avenger torpedo bomber and F4F Wildcat fighter. Had Waldron survived his Battle of Midway engagement, he was slated to receive the Avenger bomber to replace the obsolete TBD torpedo bomber that Torpedo 8 relied upon. The F4F Wildcat was significant in that, had Waldron been given requested fighter protection, it is possible that casualties to Torpedo 8 would have been substantially reduced.
Though Torpedo 8 was effectively destroyed during the opening moments of the battle, their heroic attack against terrible odds distracted the Japanese offensive long enough for American Navy dive bombers to seize the moment and destroy the Japanese carrier fleet.
Waldron’s strong leadership skills and devotion to duty are often credited as crucial factors leading to the American victory of the Battle of Midway. However, Waldron was also unique in that, at age 41, he was remarkably ‘old’ for a combat pilot. Additionally, Waldron was proud of his Oglala-Lakota Native American heritage and is documented to have referred to such in regards to his intuition on where the Japanese fleet would be found. He was proven to be correct.
“We need to appreciate our history,” stated artist John Mollison. “When we remember the lessons-learned from our past, we can make better decisions for the future. John Waldron’s service challenges everyone to consider deeply what they believe about duty, honor and country.”
The Waldron Memorial is available for public viewing during regular airport operation.
The original artwork was commissioned by Dr. Dave West of Sioux Falls.
Custom framing was provided by The Pierre/Ft. Pierre Rotary Club.
John Mollison is an award winning filmmaker, artist and writer that focuses on bringing the stories of American history to audiences worldwide. John’s website is www.johnmollison.com
|Waldron Wikipedia page|
|City of Fort Pierre website|
|City of Pierre website|
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