Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseStanhope Cotton Ring was born to United States Navy Commodore James Andrew Ring. He followed his father's footsteps by joining the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, graduating in 1923. He served aboard the battleship Colorado, then became an aviator. After serving aboard carrier Lexington as a pilot, he was transferred to Washington DC, United States to serve as the aide to the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, Rear Admiral William A. Moffett, then served as President Herbert Hoover's naval aide. Assigned back to sea duty, he served as a pilot aboard carrier Langley, then the Assistant Operations Officer on the staff of Commander, Aircraft, Battle Force, and then returned to piloting again as a dive bomber pilot. Over San Diego, California, United States, he suffered an accident where his aircraft caught on fire; he survived with terrible burns that left permanent scars on his face. Despite the accident, he continued to fly, perfecting dive bombing techniques which were still in relative infancy. After serving aboard Langley and Saratoga in the 1930s, he served briefly in Alaska, United States and another staff position at the Bureau of Aeronautics.
ww2dbaseWhen the European War began, Ring was the Assistant Naval Attaché in London, England, United Kingdom. As the Royal Navy entered war, he became one of the American observers who sailed with the British. On 24 Mar 1941, Ring was assigned to the British carrier Ark Royal, which Admiral Sir James Somerville broke his flag. Ring took notes as he learned from the British experience mounting aerial defenses against land-based German and Italian raids. Somerville thought highly of Ring, and certainly had much to do with Ring receiving the rank of Commander in the Order of the British Empire before he returned to the United States in Oct 1941.
ww2dbaseAs the US was about to enter the war, Ring served aboard the carrier Hornet as the head of Air Group Eight, which was consisted of 27 fighters, 14 torpedo bombers, and 24 dive bombers. During the battle of Midway, his air group's record was sub-par with only the sinking of Mikuma in the final moments of the battle to show for. Many military historians criticized his decisions during the battle, citing that most of the aircraft he sent out headed in a wrong direction and never found the Japanese fleet, resulting in some of them running out of fuel and crashing into the sea. "I was shaken at the realization of such losses", he wrote later. Admiral Chester Nimitz also later agreed that Ring's performance during the battle was lacking, but Ring's subsequent career in WW2 and beyond would establish him as an able commander despite the blemish at Midway. Some historians, though, placed the blame of his aircraft's incorrect bearings on the shoulders of Marc Mitscher instead, who wanted to search out for the two undiscovered Japanese carriers as opposed to striking the two known carriers.
ww2dbaseIn 1946, Ring wrote a 22-page essay on his experiences at the Battle of Midway, but the paper was hidden away until his daughter found it in 1999. The essay was published in the "Proceedings" magazine of the US Naval Institute in Aug 1999, and it provided some new insight to the battle.
ww2dbaseSource: Midway: Dauntless Victory.
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945