Midway Pilot’s Fini-Flight

| September 14, 2018

Robert Campbell

The Chico Enterprise-Record passed along the sad news that Navy Cross recipient Robert Campbell, the last known living pilot from the Air Battle of Midway, passed away Sept. 8, at the age of 101.

From the Enterprise-Record:

“Campbell received 17 ribbons and medals. Among them is the Navy Cross and a Presidential Citation. He flew missions off the USS Yorktown, USS Saratoga and the USS Enterprise against the Japanese in the Pacific. In 1941, he joined the USS Saratoga Bombing Squadron 3, and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he participated in battles throughout the South Pacific.

He earned the Navy Cross for his participation in the Air Battle of Midway in June 1942. He was involved in numerous battles during World War II, including Guadalcanal.”

Campbell’s Navy Cross citation can be found on the Military Times Hall of Valor website: https://valor.militarytimes.com/hero/21212


Category: We Remember

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  1. In The Mailbox: 09.14.18 : The Other McCain | September 15, 2018
  1. Hondo says:

    A life well-lived indeed.

    Rest in peace, elder brother-in-arms.

  2. AW1Ed says:

    Fair winds and following seas, Mr. Campbell.

  3. Forest Green says:

    Yorktown, Saratoga, and Enterprise. WOW!

  4. River Rat, RVN says:

    Outstanding, Sir. God’s speed.

    Note for the writers of these obituaries and other articles concerning members of the military who receive awards: Please stop writing that the individual won or “earned” the award. These awards and decorations are awarded for their service.

    This may sound “picky” to some. But we must remember that members of the military do not participate in, nor view combat as a sport or competition where wins an award.

  5. Old Tanker says:

    Fair skies and tailwinds forever Sir/

  6. Mick says:

    Mr. Campbell flew an SBD Dauntless dive bomber when he served with VB-3 at Midway. The SBD Dauntless had a crew of two (Naval Aviator and a Naval Aircrewman radioman/gunner who faced aft in action), and their attacks consisted of near-vertical dives into intense Japanese AAA in order to place their ordnance on target accurately. Incredible courage.

  7. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    The Enterprise-Record did a story on him last year after CNN reported in 2016 that the last American dive-bomber pilot had died. Mr. Campbell must have gotten a chuckle out of that. Believe it or not, Stolen Valor was a factor in Mr. Campbell’s life in the worst possible way. While he was giving a talk, which he did from time to time, his Navy Cross and other medals were stolen. Can you believe that? Mr. Campbell learned to fly before he entered the Navy—which was after he served in the Army. I guess he had to go Navy to fly. Why else would someone have departed the country’s military branch? The USS Yorktown, as you know, was badly hurt in the Battle of the Coral Sea but that didn’t stop her from battling at Midway, where she was lost. Mr. Campbell reported that his 15-year old bottle of scotch and his grandfather’s wrist watch went down with her and that the Enterprise became his new home.

    Rest in Peace, Mr. Campbell. Thank you.

  8. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    “…country’s best/finest/most outstanding military branch….” Pick one or more.

    • 5th/77thFA says:

      All of the above and then some more adjectives. Go ARMY beat NAVY. RIP Mr. Campbell. The Army’s loss of a Warrior was the Navy’s gain. One of the few times that Navy won fair & square. Ex FnL was in training as a Dive Bomber driver when that fight was on going. He and his class mates were replacements for the crews that were lost those 2 days.

    • desert says:

      How about 5? Army, Navy, Marine Corp, Air Force, Coast Guard! OORAH!

  9. Jeff LPH 3, 63-66 says:

    Mick; I thought that I was the only one that was computer handicapped.Welcome aboard Brother.

    • Mick says:


    • AW1Ed says:

      Not your skills. It’s the nature of WordPress, the website creation tool used here at TAH. It has pretty tight controls over what commenters can and cannot do. I think this was deliberate, as Jonn knew certain people would take advantage of easy access and trash the place.

  10. Ex-PH2 says:

    Catch the tailwind, Mr. Campbell.

  11. MustangCryppie says:

    Turns out that Mr. Campbell was a member of VB-3 which was one of the squadrons that destroyed the Japanese carriers in a dive bombing attack at Midway.

    If I were only allowed to choose one action to participate in during WW2, this would be the one.

    I can only imagine the feeling of sweet, cold revenge that Campbell and his squadron mates felt at being able to annihilate the units which had executed the attack on Pearl Harbor just 6 months before.

  12. Sparks says:

    Rest in peace Mr. Campbell. You will not be forgotten.

  13. Skyjumper says:

    Here’s a great newspaper article on Cdr. Robert Campbell dated June 4, 2017 from the Chico Enterprise- Record.

    He learned to fly at the ripe old age of 15.

    Amazing person and now he soars with the angels.

  14. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    Rest In Peace Sir, you’ve earned your place in History and Valhalla.

  15. Green Thumb says:

    Thank you for your courage.

    Rest well.

  16. Roger in Republic says:

    All of the pilots that flew all four missions on those two days in June 1942 received the Navy Cross. That in no way is meant to minimize the award as the heroism displayed by these aviators on those two days was astounding. The Dive bombers found the Japanese fleet at the very end of their combat radius. Many pilots found themselves with empty fuel tanks on the return trip and a couple of dozen fell into the sea. A very good source for the Battle of Midway from a pilots perspective is Hugh Ambrose’s “The Pacific”. Japan had won every battle up to Midway. They never won a battle after it.

  17. RGR 4-78 says:

    Rest in Peace.

  18. Inbred Redneck says:

    I dropped the link in comments on another story the other day, and thanks very much to whomever it was that picked it up and posted it on the front page. Don’t know if I ever ran across the gentleman, but I do know that about ten years ago my wife and I were out ridin’ when we stopped at a rest area. There was a big Ford with cab-over camper and had Pearl Harbor Survivor plates. We spent at least a half-hour talkin’ to the old guy drivin’ it. He was also from the Chico area. Told us he’d been on the Arizona but went ashore and hadn’t gotten back aboard ship when the Japs attacked. At this point in his life he was happy to just get in his truck and travel a bit. Guess it’s more fun to see the world through a windshield than a porthole, huh?
    Sorry we’re losin’ these guys, as there ain’t too may left, but at least I can say I knew some of ’em.

    • Inbred Redneck says:

      Damn it, “too many left” instead “may” but you can’t expect an inbred redneck to have much in the way of typin’ skills.