Bruno Peter Gaido

Bruno Peter Gaido

Staunton, Macoupin County, Illinois, USA
Death 15 Jun 1942 (aged 25–26)
At Sea
Memorial Site* Honolulu, Honolulu County, Hawaii, USA

* A structure erected in honor of someone whose remains lie elsewhere.

Plot Tablets of the Missing
Memorial ID 204858226 · View Source
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Bruno was the son of John Peter and Clementina Compagnio Gaido, 1914 immigrants to the United States from Italy via Germany. His six siblings were Gidorena Irene Chiappa, Mary, Pete, Flora, Florence B., and Dominic Peter Gaido.

Gidorena was born in Italy, Mary and Pete were born in Germany, Bruno, Flora and Florence were born in Staunton, IL, and Dominic was born in Milwaukee, WI.

Bruno Peter Gaido enlisted in the US Navy (NSN:300-20-05) on 11 Oct 1940 in Chicago, IL as an Apprentice Seaman (AS). He was sent to the Naval Training Station (NTS), Great Lakes, IL for basic training. After a short leave period, he was transferred to the Naval Air Station, Pearl Harbor. Over the next eight months, Gaido was advanced in rate from Seaman Second Class (S2c) and then to Seaman First Class (S1c). On 15 July 1941, S1c Gaido was temporarily assigned to Scouting Squadron Six (VS-6). He was temporarily assigned to VS-6 yet again on 12 Sep 1941 for two weeks of training as an aviation machinists mate. Over the next several months he was provided more training opportunities with VS-6 until he was permanently assigned to the squadron. Gaido applied himself to learn his new trade. Several months later, he was promoted to Aviation Machinist Mate Third Class (AMM3). VS-6 was attached to the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6)

On Feb 1, 1942, while Enterprise led an attack against the Japanese held Marshall and Gilbert Islands, she came under attack from five Japanese bomber aircraft. All the bombers missed and turned away except one. The lead plane was badly damaged and suddenly turned back toward Enterprise. It became obvious that the bomber was going to try and crash into the Enterprise. Seeing the bomber under continuous but seemingly ineffective fire, Petty Officer Gaido leaped out of the catwalk and climbed into the back seat of a parked Dauntless Dive Bomber (SBD). He swiveled the plane's twin 30 caliber machine gun and opened fire. He poured accurate fire down into the low-flying bomber’s cockpit causing the pilot to lose control.

The bomber's wing hit Gaido's plane and sheared off its tail section only a few feet from where Gaido was standing. He continued his torrent of fire at the bomber even while it fell in flames into the sea missing the carrier by only a thin margin. Gaido then calmly grabbed the fire bottle from the SBD and extinguished a pool of flaming gasoline on the flight deck left over from the crashed bomber. Thereafter, he disappeared into the ship, worried that he would get in trouble for leaving his watch station.

Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, the task group commander, ordered that the unidentified gunner be found. A search party eventually located Gaido and brought him to the bridge, whereupon Halsey spot-promoted him to First Class, as everyone who observed the event credited Gaido with prompt action that prevented the Enterprise from being hit and possibly saved many lives. He was also awarded a SECNAV letter of Commendation.

During the subsequent battle of Midway on the morning of 4 Jun 1942, Petty Officer Gaido was the radioman and gunner in a Dauntless SBD piloted by Ens Frank Woodrow O'Flaherty of Scouting Squadron Six (VS-6). The squadron attacked the IJN aircraft carrier Kaga of the Japanese Striking Force. After their bombing mission they joined five other VS-6 "stragglers." Before they could find their way home Ens. O'Flaherty ran out of fuel and had to ditch in the sea. US search planes never found a trace of them. They were listed as missing in action on 04 Jun 1942. Then on 05 Jun 1943 they were presumed dead.

However, it was not until after the war ended that American Intelligence officers interviewed Japanese personnel who were on board the Japanese destroyer Mikagumo during the war and stumbled upon a gruesome secret. After O'Flaherty and Gaido had successfully ditched their plane, they were captured and brought onboard the Japanese destroyer. They were held and interrogated until the Japanese commander decided they no longer had information of value. Both men were then bound with weights and brought to the edge of the ship. Knowing what was about to happen the Americans tried to grab hold of the life lines. Japanese guards then hit them in the head with their rifle butts and both men slid into the sea to their deaths.

During his short but heroic navy career, Petty Officer Gaido was awarded a Letter of Commendation from the Secretary of the Navy, a double promotion in rank from Adm Halsey, and posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze battle stars and the World War II Victory Medal.

Gaido was featured prominently in the television series "Battle 360" and his efforts in both battles were well documented. Gaido was the first inductee into the Enlisted Combat Aircrew Roll of Honor in 1996.

Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting (posthumously) the Distinguished Flying Cross to Aviation Machinist's Mate First Class Bruno P. Gaido, United States Navy, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as Gunner of an airplane in a Scouting Squadron in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Battle of Midway, 4 to 6 June 1942. With heroic and meritorious devotion to duty, he rendered valuable assistance to his pilot by detailing continuous specific and comprehensive information concerning the disposition and movements of enemy Japanese units. His courage and cool determination in carrying out this vital task in the face of furious and repeated attacks were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 313 (April 1943)
The Presidential Unit Citation presented to the crew of Enterprise and Air Wing Six 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.

The Milwaukee Journal - Feb 26, 1943 p. 1

Cross Honors Missing Hero; He'll Turn Up, Father Hopes

Tears filled the eyes of John Gaido Friday morning as he sat in his home at 3067 N. 2nd st. and proudly displayed a distinguished flying cross and a letter from Frank Knox, secretary of the navy. The medal, the letter stated, had been awarded to his son, Bruno Peter Gaido, 27, aviation machinist's mate and one of Milwaukee's heroes, who was reported missing in action June 17. The award has been made by the president. It was for Gaido's second heroic action of the war. The citation read: "For extraordinary achievement in aerial combat as gunner of an airplane of Scouting Squadron Six in action against enemy Japanese forces in the battle of Midway, June 4-6, 1942.

With heroic and meritorious devotion to duty, Gaido rendered valuable assistance to his pilot by detailing continuous specific and comprehensive information concerning the disposition and movements of enemy Japanese units. His courage and cool determination in carrying out this vital task in the face of furious and repeated attacks were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States naval service." A month before Bruno was reported missing the war department had cited him for "extraordinary courage and disregard for his own safety" in helping shoot down a Japanese plane which "after it had been set afire, attempted to crash on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier." This action was during the American naval raids on the Marshall and Gilbert Islands. As Mr Gaido examined the distinguished flying cross, his eyes flashed through his tears. "I don't give up hope," he said. "Bruno is still alive, maybe on a little island. He always had a lot of courage and could fight." Mrs Gaido, who "cried all the time after Bruno was missing," died last August. Dominic, 20, one of the five other children, joined the navy Jan 12.
After Action Report From Commander, Scouting Squadron Six to Commander, Enterprise Air Group dated Feb 3, 1942. Title: Report of Attack on the Marshall Islands February 1, 1942. Page 5/6 pages.

18. . . . Worthy of special commendation are the following two men, not assigned to combat crews and who therefore did not participate in the air attacks on the islands:

18. (a) Gaido, Bruno Peter, A.M.M.3c, U.S.N., who manned the free gun in 6-S-5, parked on the flight deck, and kept a twin engine enemy bomber under fire as it was gliding down toward the flight deck, continuing to fire after the wing of the enemy bomber had crushed the tail of 6-S-5 and the bomber had crashed into the water on the port side of the carrier.
The Saturday Evening Post - October 17, 1942 p. 46,48 [excerpts]

The Tableau of Battle
. . . As we opened their door to the flight deck we were in a mist of gasoline. The entire superstructure was drenched and dripping in gas as far up as the men at the antiaircraft directors. Only bomber wings could have dumped such a shower. There was no bomber on deck, but there was a fine tableau. One of our parked dive bombers had caromed perilously close to the edge of the broad expanse of flight deck. The fuselage at the rear showed a gaping round hole. The entire tail had been sliced off by some terrific force. Standing in the rear cockpit of this maimed plane, fiercely alert to make further use of the machine gun, was a man in a skull-tight helmet and dungarees. We recognized the bony Dantesque modeling of the man's face with further astonishment. He was a mechanic attached to our squadron, named Gaido, Peter Bruno Gaido. What he had just done had had to be done smartly.

Presidential Commemoration.

His family also received a commemoration from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It reads: In grateful memory of Bruno Peter Gaido, 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

(*Presumed dead on 5 Jun 1943. Actual date gone missing was 4 Jun 1942.)

Combat Action Ribbon (CAR) note:

None of the flight crews in the Battle of Midway were eligible for or awarded the Combat Action Ribbon (CR). See Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual (SECNAVINST 1650.1H of Aug 22, 2006, Chapter 2, Section 3, p2-34). It reads in part, “The CR will not be awarded to personnel for Aerial Combat, . . . “

According to WWII Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Casualty Listings, Wisconsin, p. 7 Gaido, Bruno Peter, Aviation Machinist Mate 1c, USN. Father: John Gaido, 3067 N. 2nd St., Milwaukee.

Military Hall of Honor #92504

[Bio compiled by G47]

Family Members




  • Created by: ShaneO
  • Added: 19 Nov 2019
  • Find A Grave Memorial 204858226
  • Dana Basile
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Bruno Peter Gaido (1916–15 Jun 1942), Find A Grave Memorial no. 204858226, citing Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Honolulu County, Hawaii, USA ; Maintained by ShaneO (contributor 47009366) .