VICTOR M. GADROW, LTJG, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Victor Gadrow '35

Date of birth: May 16, 1913

Date of death: December 22, 1941

Age: 28

Lucky Bag

From the 1935 Lucky Bag:


Loss

From Aviation Safety Network:

At 1200 hrs on 16 December 1941 TF 14 left Pearl Harbor to assist Wake Island, two thousand miles to the west. The formation consisted of the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga, with 81 aircraft aboard (the 13 F4F Wildcats, 43 SBD-3 and 11 TBD-1 of the carrier Air Group, plus the 13 F2A-3 Buffaloes of VMF-221), three heavy cruisers, nine destroyers, a seaplane tender crammed with Marines and the fleet oiler Neches, one of the oldest and slowest in the fleet, only able to do 12 knots. On 21 December 1941 Wake Island was attacked by Japanese carrier aircraft and TF 14’s commander, Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, was warned that he might possibly have to fight a major battle just to get to Wake.

On the morning of 22 December, the ships had closed to about 520 miles northeast of Wake. Rough seas washed over the Saratoga’s plunging bow and greatly hindered the oiler’s efforts to refuel the destroyers. 6 F4Fs of VF-3 flew the early-morning combat air patrol (CAP). At 1021 hrs six other F4Fs took off to relieve them. Taking off into a stiff wind, the division climbed toward patrol altitude, but suddenly Lt.(jg) Victor M Gadrow, the skipper’s wingman, experienced engine trouble. The division leader, Lt Cdr John Thach, turned the lead over to another pilot and, to maintain radio silence, raced back to the Saratoga to give the emergency deferred forced landing signal (wheels up, tail hook down) to warm her that one of his planes needed to land back on board immediately. Gadrow followed in his failing Wildcat but barely got within a mile of the carrier before he stalled and went down. His F4F-3 Buno 3985 sank immediately in the turbulent seas. Racing to the scene, the destroyer Selfridge, acting as plane guard, found nothing.

Gadrow was VF-3’s first wartime loss. Although he graduated from Annapolis in 1935, he was a latecomer to aviation, having earned his wings in the spring of 1941. He had married only a few months before the war broke out.

His wife was listed as next of kin.

Memorial Hall Error?

Victor is not listed on the killed in action panel in the front of Memorial Hall. While not an obvious error, inclusion on the panel for crashes like this (incidental to combat flights) has been inconsistent across WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

October 1935

Ensign, USS Colorado

Others at this command: LTjg Andrew Stewart '31, LTjg Thomas Williamson '32, ENS Ned Wentz '33, and ENS Albert Bontier '35.

Others at or embarked at this command: LTjg J. C. Riggs, Jr. '28 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 4B).

January 1936

Ensign, USS Colorado

Others at this command: LTjg Andrew Stewart '31, LTjg Thomas Williamson '32, ENS Ned Wentz '33, and ENS Albert Bontier '35.

Others at or embarked at this command: LTjg J. C. Riggs, Jr. '28 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 4B).

April 1936

Ensign, USS Colorado

Others at this command: LTjg Andrew Stewart '31, LTjg Thomas Williamson '32, and ENS Ned Wentz '33.

Others at or embarked at this command: LTjg J. C. Riggs, Jr. '28 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 4B).

January 1937

Ensign, USS Colorado

Others at this command: LT William Gray '21, LTjg Andrew Stewart '31, ENS David Connole '36, ENS Phillip Wild, Jr. '36, and ENS Roy Krogh '36.

Others at or embarked at this command: ENS Ned Wentz '33 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 4B).

April 1937

Ensign, USS Colorado

Others at this command: LT William Gray '21, LTjg Andrew Stewart '31, ENS David Connole '36, ENS Phillip Wild, Jr. '36, and ENS Roy Krogh '36.

Others at or embarked at this command: ENS Ned Wentz '33 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 4B).

January 1939

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Colorado

Others at this command: LCDR William Gray '21, LT Hubert Hayter '24, ENS Phillip Wild, Jr. '36, ENS Patrick Hart '37, and ENS William Cook '38.

October 1939

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Colorado

Others at this command: ENS William Cook '38, ENS Andrew Hamm '39, ENS Donald Brewington '39, ENS James Leclare '39, and ENS Richard Robinson '39.

June 1940

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Colorado

Others at this command: ENS Donald Brewington '39, ENS James Leclare '39, ENS Jack Brown '40, ENS William Butler '40, and ENS William Hodnett, Jr. '40.

November 1940

Lieutenant (j.g.), under instruction, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida

Others at this command: LCDR George Grove '15, CDR William Sample '19, LT Finley Hall '29, LT John Yoho '29, LT William Pennewill '29, LT Lance Massey '30, LT Albert Major, Jr. '32, LT Daniel Gothie '32, LT Dewitt Shumway '32, LT George Bellinger '32, LT John Spiers '32, LT Martin Koivisto '32, ENS Frank Peterson '33, LTjg John Phillips, Jr. '33, LTjg Charles Ware '34, LTjg Charles Brewer '34, CAPT Floyd Parks '34, LTjg Frank Whitaker '34, LTjg George Nicol '34, LTjg Philip Torrey, Jr. '34, LTjg Walker Ethridge '34, LTjg Allan Edmands '35, LTjg John Powers '35, LTjg Richard Stephenson '35, LTjg Porter Maxwell '36, LTjg Roy Krogh '36, LTjg Frank Henderson, Jr. '37, LTjg John Thomas '37, LTjg John Boal '37, LTjg Richard Hughes '37, ENS Alphonse Minvielle '38, ENS Carl Holmstrom '38, ENS Charles Anderson '38, ENS Charles King '38, ENS Charles Reimann '38, ENS Curtis Howard '38, ENS Donald Smith '38, 2LT Douglas Keeler '38, ENS Edmundo Gandia '38, ENS Eric Allen, Jr. '38, ENS Frank Quady '38, ENS Frank Case, Jr. '38, ENS Harry Bass '38, ENS Harry Howell '38, ENS Howard Clark '38, ENS Howard Fischer '38, ENS James Ginn '38, 2LT James Owens '38, ENS Jep Jonson '38, ENS John Kelley '38, ENS John Erickson '38, 2LT John Maclaughlin, Jr. '38, ENS John Eversole '38, ENS Leonard Thornhill '38, ENS Marion Dufilho '38, ENS Osborne Wiseman '38, ENS Oswald Zink '38, ENS Richard Crommelin '38, ENS Robert Seibels, Jr. '38, ENS Roy Green, Jr. '38, ENS Roy Hale, Jr. '38, ENS William Brady '38, ENS William Tate, Jr. '38, and ENS William Lamberson '38.

April 1941

Lieutenant (j.g.), Fighting Squadron (VF) 3, USS Saratoga

Others at this command: LTjg Edward O'Hare '37, ENS Howard Clark '38, and ENS Marion Dufilho '38.

Others at or embarked at USS Saratoga: LCDR William Hank '25 (USS Saratoga), LTjg Francis Maher, Jr. '35 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 3), LTjg Jack Ferguson '35 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 3), LTjg Harold Shrider '37 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 3), LTjg Howard Nester, Jr. '37 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 3), LTjg Macdonald Thompson '37 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 3), LTjg Patrick Hart '37 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 3), ENS Curtis Howard '38 (Torpedo Squadron (VT) 3), ENS Osborne Wiseman '38 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 3), ENS William Brady '38 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 3), and ENS Norman White '39 (USS Saratoga).


Class of 1935

Victor is one of 56 members of the Class of 1935 on Virtual Memorial Hall.