Rank Insignia Previous Honoree ID Next Honoree ID

honoree image
First Name: Charles

Last Name: Young

Birthplace: Marion Twp, Carthage, Jasper, MO, US

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)

Rating: Aviation Radioman Petty Officer 3rd Class

Middle Name: Robert

Date of Birth: 21 March 1921

Date of Death: 05 June 1943 (Presumed)

MIA Date: 04 June 1942

Rank or Rate: Petty Officer Third Class

Years Served: 1941-1943

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Charles Robert Young

Aviation Radioman Third Class, United States Navy

Distinguished Flying Cross & Purple Heart

CHARLES ROBERT YOUNG, also known as Bob, was the son of Charles Elmer Young and Mrs. Phronia (McWilliams) Balford who married on 31 Jan 1917 in Carthage, Jasper, MO. Phronia was previously married in 1912 to Roy Balford. Charles E., was a farmer early in his life. In 1920, he and Phronia were farmers in Madison, Jasper, MO. Phronia gave birth to her first child, an unnamed male still-born on 06 Dec 1919. Later, she gave birth to her second child, Charles Robert "Bob" Young, on 21 Mar 1921 in Carthage. Tragically, she died the same day from complications during childbirth (MO death certificate). Charles E. married Mrs Flora May (Brown) Merrell on 24 Aug 1925 in Benton county, AR.

After his mother's premature death, Bob was raised by his paternal grandmother, Alice Guin Young and his aunt, Mabel L. Young in Tulsa, OK. Mabel died early in 1930 in Tulsa. In April 1930, Charles R., lived in Tulsa, OK with his grandmother, Alice G. Young. In 1935, Charley was employed as a machinist at the oil fields in Seminole, OK. His wife, Flora and her two children by another marriage lived in Tulsa, OK. In the mid-1930s Charles E. Young and his family moved to Seminole Ok where Bob joined them. He graduated from Seminole High School at commencement exercises on Friday evening 19 May 1939 with 120 other seniors.

With his father's consent, Bob enlisted in the US Navy (NSN:3565507) on 19 Mar 1941 in Dallas, TX as an Apprentice Seaman (AS). During recruit training, Young took several aptitude tests. The results indicated a strength in the communications field. After he completed basic training, AS Young was sent to the Communications Service (Class A) School in San Diego. While in school he was advanced in rate to Seaman Second Class (S2/c) about Aug 1941. After he completed the school, Young boarded, as a passenger, the fleet oiler, USS Tippecanoe (AO-21), in San Diego, CA on 10 Nov 1941 for a ride to Hawaii for duty with the aircraft carrier, USS Lexington (CV-2) and Scouting Squadron Two (VS-2). Tippecanoe, bound for Pearl Harbor via San Pedro, CA, arrived in Pearl Harbor on 24 Nov and disembarked her passengers. S2c Young reported to his new duty station on 25 Nov 1941. On 03 Dec 1941, Young transferred to Scouting Squadron Two (VS-2).

On 7 December 1941 Lexington was at sea with TF 12 carrying Marine aircraft from Pearl Harbor to reinforce Midway when word of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was received. She immediately launched search planes to hunt for the Japanese fleet, and at midmorning headed south to rendezvous with Indianapolis and Enterprise task forces to conduct with search southwest of Oahu until returning Pearl Harbor 13 December.

Lexington sailed next day to raid Japanese forces on Jaluit to relieve pressure on Wake; these orders were canceled 20 December, and she was directed to cover the Saratoga force in reinforcing Wake. When the island fell 23 December. the two carrier forces were recalled to Pearl Harbor, arriving 27 December 1941.

Lexington patrolled to block enemy raids in the Oahu-Johnston-Palmyra triangle until 11 January 1942, when she sailed from Pearl Harbor as flagship for Vice Adm. Wilson Brown commanding TF 11. On 16 February, the force headed for an attack on Rabaul, New Britain, scheduled for 21 February; while approaching the day previous, Lexington was attacked by two waves of enemy aircraft, nine planes to a wave. The carrier's own combat air patrol and antiaircraft fire splashed 17 of the attackers. During a single sortie Lt. E. H. (Butch) O'Hare won the Medal of Honor by downing five planes.

Her offensive patrols in the Coral Sea continued until 6 March, when she rendezvoused with Yorktown's TF 17 for a surprise attack flown over the Owen Stanley mountains of New Guinea inflicting heavy damage on shipping and installations at Salamaua and Lae 10 March. She steamed to Pearl Harbor, arriving 26 March.

Lexington's task force sortied from Pearl Harbor 15 April, rejoining TF 17 on 1 May. Japanese fleet concentrations were threatening the Coral Sea. Lexington and Yorktown steamed into the area to search for the enemy force that was covering a projected troop movement that would threaten allied sea communication with Australia and New Zealand.

On 7 May, American search planes reported contact with an enemy carrier task force. Lexington's air group attacked sinking the light carrier Shoho. Later that day, 12 bombers and 15 torpedo planes from the unlocated carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku were intercepted by fighter groups from Lexington and Yorktown. Nine enemy planes were shot down.

On the morning of the 8 May 1942, a Lexington search plane located the Shokaku group. A strike was immediately launched from the American carriers, and the Japanese ship was attacked and heavily damaged. The enemy launched a counter strike that penetrated the screen around the American carriers at 1100, and 20 minutes later Lexington was hit by two aerial torpedoes. At the same time, she took three bomb hits from enemy dive bombers, producing a 7° list to port and several raging fires. The fires were brought under control and by 1300 she was making 25 knots and ready to recover her air group. Then suddenly Lexington was shaken by a tremendous explosion, caused by the ignition of gasoline vapors below, and again fire raged out of control. Although damage control parties worked tirelessly to control the fires, Lexington was doomed. At 1707, Lexington's CO, Capt F. Sherman, ordered, "Abandon ship!" Her burning hulk was sunk by two torpedoes fired by the destroyer Phelps.

(Edited excerpts from Naval History and Heritage Cmd - DANFS USS Lexington IV (CV-2)

The Surviving Lexington aviators were returned to Hawaii where many were transferred to different squadrons as replacements. In late May 1942, after surviving the sinking of the Lexington, ARM3 Young transferred to Enterprise's Bombing Squadron Six (VB-6). Over the previous six months Young advanced in rate to Seaman 1/c then to Radioman Third Class. He also qualified as an Aviation Radioman.

Enterprise returned to Pearl Harbor on 26 May and began intensive preparations to meet an expected Japanese thrust at Midway Island. Enterprise got underway from Pearl Harbor on 28 May 1942, and with Hornet, steamed toward a point Northeast of Midway called "Point Luck." USS Yorktown (CV-5) followed a short time later.

Early on the morning of 4 Jun 1942, the Enterprises' air group (launched 0700) along with those from the USS Hornet (CV-8) and USS Yorktown (CV-5) launched their strike packages to intercept and attack the Japanese carrier fleet approaching the Midway Atoll. VB-6 with only 15 SBDs including Ens. Bert Varian and his rear-seat gunner, Aviation Radioman Third Class (ARM3) Charles Robert Young, flying in 6-B-18 in VB-6’s Third Division, 18 SBDs from Scouting Six (VS-6) and the CEAG McClusky’s section of three SBDs launched, formed up, then circled the task force waiting for Fighting Six and Torpedo Six to launch. Twenty minutes passed with little visible activity for a VT-6 and VF-6 launching. Meanwhile the SBDs, carrying a heavy load of bombs, were using up valuable fuel. Finally, at 0745, Lcdr McClusky was instructed to "proceed on mission assigned." The unnecessary expenditure of fuel by all the Enterprise Air Group was to have deadly consequences later in this mission.

After nearly 3 1/2 hours in the air searching for the enemy, the CEAG finally spotted the Japanese carrier fleet with the unintended assistance of Japanese destroyer Arashi. The SBDs of VB-6 and VS-6 were near fuel exhaustion. Lcdr McClusky issued “vague” orders to Lt Best and Lt Gallaher on which carriers to attack. Apparently, Lt Best didn't receive the orders and Lt Gallaher misinterpreted the orders. As the attack on Kaga began at 1020 near disastrous confusion resulted between Lt Best leading VB-6 and Lt Gallaher leading VS-6 on which target, Kaga or Akagi, each squadron was to attack. Consequently, 27 of the 30 SBDs from both squadrons, including Ens. Varian, attacked Kaga. Kaga was hit multiple times and suffered the effects of many near misses. Only VB-6 Squadron commander, Lt Dick Best (S-B-1) and his two wingmen, Ltjg Edwin Kroeger (S-B-2) and Ens. Frederick T Weber (S-B-3) attacked Akagi beginning about 1025. Lt Best’s one direct hit with his 1,000 lb bomb doomed the Japanese navy’s largest carrier of her day. She was scuttled the next day.

As they pulled out of their dives, the American planes were met with a barrage of anti-aircraft fire and swarming Zero fighters as the SBDs tried to quickly exit the battle field. After the attack Ltjg Vandivier (6-B-14), Ltjg Roberts (6-B-5), and Ens. Halsey (6-B-6) joined up, followed by Ens. George Goldsmith (6-B-15) on the flight back to Enterprise. The group was quickly attacked by Zeros that made about six runs on the American planes. Two more VB-6 SBDs joined with Vandivier; Ltjg Edward L "Andy" Anderson (6-B-16) and Ens. Bert Varian (6-B-18). The Zeros did a lot of damage to the planes of Vandivier's group. Ensign Varian's SBD was one of several to be hit by machine gun fire in his fuel tank. First to ditch was Ensign Halsey. He ran out of fuel. He was seen with his gunner getting into their life raft. Vandivier and several others circled Halsey to make sure he was ok. Varian and Anderson flew on.

Soon, Ltjg Van Buren joined the group and took the lead. Ten minutes after the Zeros left, Vandivier signaled he was going down because of fuel exhaustion. Vandivier and Keaney made a safe water landing and got into their life raft as confirmed by Ens. Goldsmith who circled above them. Five minutes later, Van Buren and his gunner made a water landing and were seen manning their life raft. Then Bert Varian went down and made a good water landing. The crew of S-B-18 were seen to climb into their yellow rubber life raft. Next, Ens. Ramsey went into the water about 15 miles short of the Enterprise. He and his gunner, AMM2 Sherman Duncan, survived an week-long ordeal on the sea in their life raft before finally being rescued by a Midway PBY on 12 June. Ens. Hopkins was the last SBD from the morning strike to land on board Enterprise at 1210 with only a wisp of fuel remaining from the original 310 gallons. He had been in the air for over 5 hrs.

Varian, Halsey, Van Buren and Vandivier and their rear-seat gunners all made successful water landings and were seen manning their life rafts, however, none were ever found.

ARM3 Young was reported missing in action on 4 June 1942. His remains were unrecoverable. He was presumed dead on 05 June 1943.

Aviation Radioman Third Class Young was awarded (posthumously) the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, American Defense Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three battle stars, and the World War II Victory Medal.


Distinguished Flying Cross Citation:

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting (Posthumously) the Distinguished Flying Cross to Charles Robert Young, Aviation Radioman Third Class, United States Navy as set forth in the following citation: "For heroic achievement in aerial flight as gunner of a plane in a Bombing Squadron, in action against the enemy Japanese forces in the Battle of Midway, June 4-6, 1942. While participating in the first dive-bombing attack against the Japanese invasion fleet, Young, after a safe pull-out from his dive, succeeded in defending his plane against fierce assaults of enemy Japanese fighters by the skillful and timely fire of his free machine-guns, thereby aiding the pilot to escape. his coolness and courage under fire were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

Citation obtained from the newspaper Seminole Producer (Seminole, OK) - 01 April 1943, Thu - p.3. Title: Young Is Awarded Distinguished Flying Cross.


Presidential Unit Citation (PUC). That citation reads:

For consistently outstanding performance and distinguished achievement during repeated action against enemy Japanese forces in the Pacific war area, 7 December 1941, to 15 November 1942. Participating in nearly every major carrier engagement in the first year of the war, the Enterprise and her air group, exclusive of far-flung destruction of hostile shore installations throughout the battle area, did sink or damage on her own a total of 35 Japanese vessels and shot down a total of 185 Japanese aircraft. Her aggressive spirit and superb combat efficiency are fitting tribute to the officers and men who so gallantly established her as an ahead bulwark in the defense of the American nation.

Actions of the Enterprise listed in the citation include the Gilbert and Marshalls Islands raid of 01 Feb 1942; Wake Island raid, 24 Feb 1942; Marcus Island raid, 04 Mar 1942; Doolittle Raid, 18 April 1942; Battle of Midway, 4-6 Jun 1942; Occupation of Guadalcanal, 7-8 Aug 1942; Battle of Stewart Islands, 24 Aug 1942; Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, 26 Oct 1942; and Battle of Solomon Islands, 14-15 Nov 1942.


His family also received a scroll from President Franklin D. Roosevelt in commemoration of Petty Officer Young. The citation reads: In grateful memory of Charles Robert YOUNG, who died in the service of his country, SEA, Pacific Area, ATTACHED U.S.S. ENTERPRISE, 5 JUNE 1943 (Presumed). He stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die that freedom might live and grow and increase its blessings. Freedom lives, and through it, he lives -- in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men.

(Signed) Franklin D. Roosevelt,

President of the United States


Combat Action Ribbon (CR) note:

Navy/Marine flight crews in the Battle of Midway or any aerial combat were NOT eligible for or were awarded the Combat Action Ribbon (CR). See Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual (SECNAVINST M-1650.1 of 16 Aug 2019, Appendix 2C.1.c (3) Amplifying Guidance). It reads in part, “The CR will not be awarded in connection with aerial flight, . . . “ The CR was established in 1969 and made retroactive to 07 Dec 1941. According to the Awards Manual, when deemed appropriate, the award for aerial combat was/is the Air Medal.


[Bio #255 composed on 17 Jan 2017, edited on 25 Oct 2020 by Gerry Lawton (GML470)]

Find A Grave Memorial Page: # 56136185

Honoree ID: 104980   Created by: MHOH




Honoree Photos

honoree imagehonoree imagehonoree image

honoree imagehonoree image

honoree image