Remembering ARM3 William Franklin Sawhill

My Forgotten Hobby is all about no forgetting the past. John Leonard Greaves and Gerry Lawton were doing this by remembering William Franklin Sawhill.

© John Greaves Art (with the permission of Janet Greaves)



Earl Lockwood Sawhill and Maude Elsie Botdorf were married on New Year’s Day, 1916 in Richland county, OH. They were the parents of least three children: William Franklin, Donald Moore, and Mary Margaret Sawhill.

Later that year, he was transferred to Torpedo Squadron Eight (VT-8) aboard the USS Hornet (CV-8).

For the next four months, VT-8 and Hornet conducted extensive training in the Atlantic and Caribbean. In early March 1942 Hornet was transferred to the Pacific via the Panama Canal where she participated in the Doolittle raid on Tokyo in April 1942.

Shortly after returning from the Dolittle raid, Hornet, along with the USS Enterprise (CV-6), was ordered to support the USS Lexington (CV-2) and USS Yorktown (CV-5) during the battle of the Coral Sea in early May 1942. However, the battle was over before they reached the area.

Hornet returned to Pearl Harbor in late May and was ordered to prepare to support impending combat operations near Midway.

Early on the morning of 4 Jun 1942, Ensign Ulvert M Moore and his radioman/gunner, ARM3 William F. Sawhill, and the rest of the aircraft of VT-8 in company with the Hornet Air Group, launched to engage an enemy Japanese Striking Force approaching the Midway atoll.

After a long flight westward, the Hornet Air Group had not made contact with the enemy force. VT-8’s commanding officer, Lcdr John Waldron, decided he knew where the enemy force was. Against orders, Waldron and VT-8 left the Hornet Air Group and headed southwest. A short while later VT-8 found the enemy ships and courageously attacked without friendly fighter support.

Overwhelmed by superior numbers of Japanese fighters, yet undaunted, VT-8 pressed home their attack until all 15 planes were shot down. Only one person survived, Ensign George Gay. Ens. Moore and Petty Officer Sawhill were killed in action.

Officially, they were listed as “Missing in Action” because their remains were unrecoverable. They were officially listed as killed in action on 5 Jun 1943.

Remembering Torpedo Squadron No. 8

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