Miguel Nava '17
On February 7, 2024 Captain Miguel Nava, USMC '17 was killed in a helicopter crash. Please consider a donation to his family to honor his service, and the incredible sacrifice of his wife and five-month-old son.

MALCOLM LAWTY, LTJG, USNR

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall
Malcolm Lawty '43

Date of birth: October 3, 1919

Date of death: June 4, 1944

Age: 24

Naval Academy Register

Malcolm Lawty was admitted to the Naval Academy with an At Large appointment on July 7, 1939 at age 19 years 9 months. He resigned on March 8, 1940 because he was "Deficient in studies, first term's work. Continued with class pending reexamination. Reexamined and again deficient. Recommended to be dropped. Permitted to resign."

Lucky Bag

Malcolm Lawty is listed with 195 others below this inscription:

NOT ALL OF US who joined the Class of '43 stayed with us to that one broad stripe. Many fell at the end of plebe year, the casualty list mounted at the end of youngster year and a very few left us when the course was almost run. Reasons were varied and diverse: academic tangles, physical disabilities, civilian leanings.... Many went into civilian occupations, some were drafted, others became flyers and a few volunteered for foreign military service. Some left us early, many stayed for a long while, but none will be forgotten.

Loss

Malcolm was lost while flying a TBM-1C Avenger from USS Kitkun Bay (CVE 71) on June 4, 1944 in the Central Pacific. He was a member of Composite Squadron (VC) 5; the ship was en route to support the invasion of the Marianas Islands.

From the Naval History and Heritage Command: "Lt. (j.g.) Malcolm Lawty, USNR, piloted an Avenger (BuNo 45458) from the squadron on 4 June. Lawty approached the carrier to land but the landing signal officer (LSO) waved him off because the ship was still swinging into the wind. The torpedo bomber lost flying speed and side slipped into the water about 25 yards off Kitkun Bay’s starboard quarter. The gunner escaped from the plane but Lawty and his radioman went down with the aircraft."

His wife was listed as next of kin; he was also survived by an unborn daughter, his father, and two brothers.

In the Reno Gazette Journal on August 10, 1944:

Girl Widowed Twice by War

SEATTLE, Aug. 10 (AP)—Twice in less than a year and a half of war the former Rachel Pool has become a widow.

Ensign Howard B. Dilatush, Jr., was killed in March, 1943, in a transport plane crash at Washington, D.C. Seven months later she married Lt. (jg) Malcolm Lawty, a friend from high school days.

She received notice last week of his death in a crash at sea, only a few days after a daughter was born to them.

Wartime Experience

In October 1941, while a student at the University of Maryland, Malcolm joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. Listed on the card reporting this is a "person who will always know your address;" he listed his friend Benjamin Adams, a non-graduate from the Class of 1944. It's not known if he actually joined the RCAF, or if he did when he resigned.

From "The Plain Speaker" on August 12, 1943:

GUADALCANAL, Aug 4 (delayed) (AP) — Sometimes America's widely-advertised food products appear surprisingly in places. Not at all like the dainty luncheon tables pictured in the ads.

Take the case of Ensign Malcolm Lawty of Woodinville, Wash., and his two crewmen who spent eight days on a leaky life raft after their plane was forced down in the South Pacific.

Lawty, 23, and radioman John Stout, 25, of Spring City, Pa., and his gunner, John T. Waldheim, 21, aviation ordnance mate 3rd class of Elizabeth, N.J., lost their rations when they crashed—all except two bars of D rations which Lawty had in his pockets.

Their tough luck was terrific. Fish refused to bite on an improvised line. The only water they had was meager portions caught in their life jackets during occasional squats. They were covered with salt water sores. Their raft was damaged when they crashed and they had to bail. They lost a paddle and had to improvise one.

They saw friendly planes almost every day, but couldn't succeed in attracting attention.

When the raft bumped on an island beach the trio sprawled exhausted on the sand. Then natives appeared and the chief stepped forward to proclaim:

"We your friend." To prove it he produced American canned luncheon meat and D rations.

Lawty didn't question where the chief got the provender.

"That was proof enough for us," said the ensign. "We were weak from hunger."

The natives refused money. The trio spent 10 days on the island and recovered from their experiences.

Memorial Hall Error

Malcolm's loss was not in any way related to enemy action; he should not be listed on the killed in action panel. Also, his name is spelled incorrectly as "Malcolmb" on the killed in action scroll in Memorial Hall; it is spelled correctly on the Class of 1943 panel.


Class of 1943

Malcolm is one of 85 members of the Class of 1943 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

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