Difference between revisions of "LEONARD W. THORNHILL, LTJG, USN"

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Leonard was lost when his [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_TBD_Devastator Douglas TBD Devastator] ran out of fuel while returning from an attack on a Japanese aircraft carrier on May 8, 1942, during the [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Coral_Sea Battle of the Coral Sea.] He was flying with Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2 from USS Lexington (CV 2).
Leonard was lost when his [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_TBD_Devastator Douglas TBD Devastator] ran out of fuel while returning from an attack on a Japanese aircraft carrier on May 8, 1942, during the [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Coral_Sea Battle of the Coral Sea.] He was flying with Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2 from USS Lexington (CV 2).


His mother was [http://www.naval-history.net/WW2UScasaaDB-USNbyNAMET.htm listed as] next of kin. Leonard has [https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=THORNHILL&GSfn=LEONARD&GSmn=W.&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSob=n&GRid=69376728&df=all& a memory marker] in Alabama.
His mother was [http://www.naval-history.net/WW2UScasaaDB-USNbyNameT.htm listed as] next of kin. Leonard has [https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/69376728 a memory marker] in Alabama.
 
== Career ==
From naval aviation historian Richard Leonard via email on February 9, 2018:
<blockquote>
* NAS Pensacola attached for HTA flight training, 8/26/1940
* NAS Pensacola designated NA # 7091, 1/30/1941
* Date of rank LTJG from 1 Jul 1941 USN Register, 6/2/1941
* VT-2 USS Lexington (CV-2) NX MIA BNR, 5/8/1942
 
Thornhill and his crew were seen to get in their raft after ditching from fuel exhaustion, but subsequent searches never found them.
</blockquote>


== Battle of the Coral Sea ==
== Battle of the Coral Sea ==
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[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Thornhill USS Thornhill (DE 195)] was named for Leonard; the ship was sponsored by his mother.
[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Thornhill USS Thornhill (DE 195)] was named for Leonard; the ship was sponsored by his mother.


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|column2=[[JOHN J. POWERS, LT, USN|LTjg John Powers '35]]<br />[[RICHARD D. STEPHENSON, LCDR, USN|LTjg Richard Stephenson '35]]<br />[[ALLAN C. EDMANDS, LCDR, USN|LTjg Allan Edmands '35]]<br />[[ROY J. KROGH, LT, USN|LTjg Roy Krogh '36]]<br />[[PORTER W. MAXWELL, CDR, USN|LTjg Porter Maxwell '36]]<br />[[RICHARD B. HUGHES, LTJG, USN|LTjg Richard Hughes '37]]<br />[[FRANK H. HENDERSON, JR., LT, USN|LTjg Frank Henderson, Jr. '37]]<br />[[JOHN A. THOMAS, LT, USN|LTjg John Thomas '37]]<br />[[JOHN K. BOAL, LT, USN|LTjg John Boal '37]]<br />[[HARRY E. HOWELL, ENS, USN|ENS Harry Howell '38]]<br />[[ERIC ALLEN, JR., LTJG, USN|ENS Eric Allen, Jr. '38]]<br />[[JAMES B. GINN, LTJG, USN|ENS James Ginn '38]]<br />[[OSWALD A. ZINK, LTJG, USN|ENS Oswald Zink '38]]<br />[[FRANK D. CASE, JR., LTJG, USN|ENS Frank Case, Jr. '38]]<br />[[HOWARD P. FISCHER, LTJG, USN|ENS Howard Fischer '38]]<br />[[EDMUNDO GANDIA, LTJG, USN|ENS Edmundo Gandia '38]]<br />[[CHARLES J. REIMANN, LTJG, USN|ENS Charles Reimann '38]]<br />[[HOWARD F. CLARK, LTJG, USN|ENS Howard Clark '38]]<br />[[ROY O. HALE, JR., LTJG, USN|ENS Roy Hale, Jr. '38]]<br />[[OSBORNE B. WISEMAN, LTJG, USN|ENS Osborne Wiseman '38]]<br />[[JOHN T. EVERSOLE, LTJG, USN|ENS John Eversole '38]]
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|parentCommand=USS Lexington
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{{NewClassNavigator|Name=Leonard|HonoreesInClass={{PAGESINCATEGORY:1938}}|ClassYear=1938|PreviousPersonLink=ROY O. HALE, JR., LTJG, USN|PreviousPersonName=Roy Hale, Jr. '38|NextPersonLink=OSBORNE B. WISEMAN, LTJG, USN|NextPersonName=Osborne Wiseman '38}}


[[Category:1938|Thornhill]]
[[Category:1938|Thornhill]]
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[[Category:Navy Cross|Thornhill]]
[[Category:Navy Cross|Thornhill]]
[[Category:Ship Namesake|Thornhill]]
[[Category:Ship Namesake|Thornhill]]
{{KIA|panel=LEONARD WILSON THORNHILL}}

Latest revision as of 19:06, 7 June 2020

Leonard Thornhill '38

Date of birth: August 17, 1915

Date of death: May 8, 1942

Age: 26

Lucky Bag

From the 1938 Lucky Bag:

1938 Thornhill LB.jpg

LEONARD WILSON THORNHILL

Selma, Alabama

Tiny, Toots

When he left the Alabama cotton fields, Toots brought his southern sunshine with him into these grey walls. But although his cheerful disposition makes him the friend of all, he will never forget the pleasant memories of home. Wilson's idea of the Navy may have changed a bit with academy life, but homesick, lovesick, or seasick, he will do well wherever he goes. Serious, earnest, and conscientious, he has held to his work believing that he does well only when he does his best. Toots has a Southern gentleman's liking for good food and beautiful ladies. Ever see him chow up? Ever see him at a hop? Does a duck swim? On ship or onshore, "The man from Alabama needs no introduction."

Batt. Basketball 4, 3; Soccer 3; Batt. Track 4, 3, 1; Star 4; Lieutenant (j.g.).

1938 Thornhill LB.jpg

LEONARD WILSON THORNHILL

Selma, Alabama

Tiny, Toots

When he left the Alabama cotton fields, Toots brought his southern sunshine with him into these grey walls. But although his cheerful disposition makes him the friend of all, he will never forget the pleasant memories of home. Wilson's idea of the Navy may have changed a bit with academy life, but homesick, lovesick, or seasick, he will do well wherever he goes. Serious, earnest, and conscientious, he has held to his work believing that he does well only when he does his best. Toots has a Southern gentleman's liking for good food and beautiful ladies. Ever see him chow up? Ever see him at a hop? Does a duck swim? On ship or onshore, "The man from Alabama needs no introduction."

Batt. Basketball 4, 3; Soccer 3; Batt. Track 4, 3, 1; Star 4; Lieutenant (j.g.).

Loss

Leonard was lost when his Douglas TBD Devastator ran out of fuel while returning from an attack on a Japanese aircraft carrier on May 8, 1942, during the Battle of the Coral Sea. He was flying with Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2 from USS Lexington (CV 2).

His mother was listed as next of kin. Leonard has a memory marker in Alabama.

Career

From naval aviation historian Richard Leonard via email on February 9, 2018:

  • NAS Pensacola attached for HTA flight training, 8/26/1940
  • NAS Pensacola designated NA # 7091, 1/30/1941
  • Date of rank LTJG from 1 Jul 1941 USN Register, 6/2/1941
  • VT-2 USS Lexington (CV-2) NX MIA BNR, 5/8/1942

Thornhill and his crew were seen to get in their raft after ditching from fuel exhaustion, but subsequent searches never found them.

Battle of the Coral Sea

On the first day of the battle, May 7, 1942, from Wikipedia:

At 1135, VT-2 encountered the light carrier Japanese aircraft carrier Shōhō and immediately launched a well coordinated attack in conjunction with Bombing Squadron (VB) 2. While VB-2 took some of the fighter pressure off the torpedo bombers, Thornhill and his comrades split formation and attacked the carrier from both directions astern. All 12 planes made their runs and drops successfully and without loss to themselves. The "Devastators" claimed nine hits from 12 drops, one of which was credited to Lt. (jg.) Thornhill. The coordinated attacks of VT-2 and VB-2 sent Shōhō to the bottom—the first enemy carrier sunk by American forces in World War II.

On the second day of the battle, May 8, 1942, from Wikipedia:

The following day, during the second phase of the Battle of the Coral Sea, Thornhill went aloft with VT-2 at 0910 in search of the two remaining Japanese carriers, Japanese aircraft carrier Shokaku and Japanese aircraft carrier Zuikaku. After failing to encounter the enemy ships at their supposed location, Thornhill and his squadron mates initiated a "box search" to find their quarry. Sometime after 1100, they found their target, fleet carrier Shokaku, At 1142, VT-2 commenced its attack; and the carrier began a long, slow turn to the right which allowed each TBD-1 to make its "run without splitting across the stern." The attack ended just eight minutes later, and VT-2 began the flight home claiming five hits on Shokaku—all of which proved later to be wishful thinking. Only the dive bombers succeeded in damaging the enemy carrier.

Navy Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant, Junior Grade Leonard Wilson Thornhill (NSN: 0-81121), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Torpedo Plane in Torpedo Squadron TWO (VT-2), attached to the U.S.S. LEXINGTON (CV-2), in action against enemy Japanese forces during the Air Battle of the Coral Sea on 7 May 1942. Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Thornhill pressed home an attack against an enemy Japanese aircraft carrier to within the perilously short range of a few hundred yards of his target. By complete disregard for his own personal safety and resolute purpose in carrying out his mission, he was able to score a hit on the enemy carrier, thereby contributing to the destruction of that vessel and to the success of our forces in the Battle of the Coral Sea. His conduct on this occasion was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Commander in Chief Pacific: Serial 14 (June 28, 1942)
Action Date: 7-May-42
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Junior Grade
Company: Torpedo Squadron 2 (VT-2)
Division: U.S.S. Lexington (CV-2)

Namesake

USS Thornhill (DE 195) was named for Leonard; the ship was sponsored by his mother.

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 1939
Ensign, USS Fred Talbott
June 1940
Ensign, USS Fred Talbott
November 1940
Ensign, under instruction, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida

April 1941
Ensign, Torpedo Squadron (VT) 2, USS Lexington


Others at or embarked at USS Lexington:
LT Louis Shane, Jr. '26 (USS Lexington)
LT Donald Lovelace '28 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 2)
LT Weldon Hamilton '28 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 2)
LT Charles Crommelin '31 (Fighting Squadron (VF) 2)
LTjg Robert Fair '33 (USS Lexington)
LTjg Joel Davis, Jr. '35 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 2)
LTjg John Hunter '36 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 2)
LTjg Thomas Edwards, Jr. '37 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 2)
ENS Roy Hale, Jr. '38 (Scouting Squadron (VS) 2)
ENS Harry Bass '38 (Bombing Squadron (VB) 2)
ENS Edward Price '39 (USS Lexington)
ENS Allan Wussow '39 (USS Lexington)
ENS Edward Seiler, Jr. '39 (USS Lexington)
ENS Willard Sampson '40 (USS Lexington)


Class of 1938

Leonard is one of 72 members of the Class of 1938 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of alumni in Memorial Hall.