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LCDR Lance Edward “Lem” Massey

LCDR Lance Edward “Lem” Massey

Birth
Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York, USA
Death 4 Jun 1942 (aged 32)
At Sea
Burial Watertown, Jefferson County, New York, USA
Plot Lot # 30 Section K (cenotaph)
Memorial ID 22216 · View Source
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Walter Griffith Massey and Florence G. Lance were married about 1907. Their only child was Lance Edward "Lem" Massey. He grew up in Watertown, NY where he completed several years of high school before transferring to the Severn School in Severna Park, MD in 1925. He completed a year at the Severn School and entered the US Naval Academy at age 16 with an appointment from New York on 23 Jun 1926. He was graduated and commissioned an Ensign on 5 Jun 1930.

Like almost all newly commissioned Ensigns he was expected to go to sea on his first tour of duty. So, on 7 July 1930, he reported aboard the USS Texas (BB-35). The tour was uncharacteristically short. He concluded his tour on Texas in early March 1931 and reported to NAS Pensacola to begin aviation training on 27 Mar 1931. He completed his training and earned his Naval Aviator gold wings in Jan 1932. On 30 Jun 1932 he reported to Scouting Squadron 3. While he was assigned to Scouting Squadron 3 he was promoted to Lieutenant (Junior Grade) on 5 Jun 1933. His tour with Scouting Squadron 3 ended in early Jun 1935 when he was transferred to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola on 20 Jun 1935. Completing his tour of duty at NAS Pensacola in early Jun 1937, Ltjg Massey was transferred to Observation Squadron 3 aboard USS New Mexico (BB-40) on 23 Jun 1937. He was promoted on 01 Aug 1937 to Lieutenant. In Jan 1940 Observation Squadron 3 transferred to USS Idaho (BB-42). Six months later on 30 July 1940, he was transferred from that command to NAS Pensacola. In Oct 1941 he was assigned to the USS Enterprise as Executive Officer (XO) of Torpedo Squadron Six (VT-6). He was promoted to the temporary rank of Lieutenant Commander (Lcdr) on 01 Jan 1942 (After his death on 4 Jun 1942 his promotion was made permanent on 30 Jun 1942). Later, on 1 Feb 1942, he was a participant in a VT-6 attack at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. He sank the 6567 ton Japanese transport Bordeaux Maru on 01 Feb 1942 for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). On 14 April 1942 he became CO of VT-3 and the squadron was transferred to USS Yorktown (CV-5) on 28 May 1942.

About a week later on 4 Jun 1942 Lcdr Massey led his squadron from the Yorktown in an attack on the Japanese strike force approaching Midway. Weaving his way through a gauntlet of overwhelming numbers of enemy fighters and intense anti-aircraft fire, Lcdr Massey and Torpedo Three pressed home their attack. Of the twelve planes in his squadron that day only two survived the attack. Both aircraft were badly damaged and were forced to ditch near US forces. Three of the four crewman survived. Lcdr Massey and his gunner/radioman ACRM Leon Edward Perry were missing in action. Their remains were unrecoverable. On 5 Jun 1943 they were declared "presumed dead." Lcdr Massey was awarded the Navy Cross, the Purple Heart, and the Presidential Unit Citation for his service while aboard USS Enterprise (CV-6).
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The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander Lance Edward Massey, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Torpedo Plane and Commanding Officer of Torpedo Squadron THREE (VT-3), attached to the U.S.S. YORKTOWN (CV-5), during the "Air Battle of Midway," against enemy Japanese forces on 4 June 1942. Lieutenant Massey led his squadron in a Torpedo Plane assault against Japanese naval units, in the face of intense anti-aircraft fire and overwhelming fighter opposition. He pressed home his attack to a point where it became relatively certain that in order to fulfill his mission he would probably sacrifice his life. Undeterred by the grave possibilities of such a hazardous offensive, he carried on, with extreme disregard for his own personal safety, until his squadron scored direct hits on two enemy aircraft carriers. His self sacrificing gallantry and fortitude were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 309 (December 1942)
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Lieutenant Commander Lance Edward Massey, United States Navy, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight during the attacks on the Japanese force at Kwajalein Atoll during World War II.

General Orders: American Battle Monuments Commission
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USS Enterprise (CV-6) Presidential Unit Citation:
It 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.
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His family also received a commemoration from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It reads: In grateful memory of Lance Edward Massey, who died in the service of his country, SEA, Pacific Area, ATTACHED U.S.S.YORKTOWN, 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 of America

(*Presumed dead on 5 Jun 1943. Actual date gone missing was 4 Jun 1942.)
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The USS Massey (DD-778), an Allen M Sumner class destroyer, was named in his honor. Massey (DD-778) was launched on 12 Sept 1944 and sponsored by Mrs. Marjorie Drake Massey, the widow of LCDR Massey. The destroyer was commissioned on 24 Nov 1944. After her shake down cruise was complete, Massey headed for the Western Pacific where she participated in the Okinawa operations. While at Okinawa Massey shot down nine kamikazes. During the Korean war Massey provided gun fire support, blockade, and bombardment support to U.N. troops. Massey spent the years after Korea in the Atlantic and made a number of Mediterranean cruises. Massey was ordered to the Pacific a second time in January 1966 where she provided gunfire support for ground forces and rescue services for carriers. She also performed picket duty assignments. When she departed Vietnam she steamed home through the Suez Canal. She arrived in Newport, R.I. on 17 Aug 1966 having circumnavigated the globe. While steaming in the Mediterranean Sea, Massey rendered aid to the research ship Liberty in Jun 1967 after Liberty had been attacked by Israeli gunboats and aircraft. In 1969, Massey became a Naval Reserve Training Ship in Brooklyn, NY. She was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 17 Sept 1973. She was sold 13 Nov 1974 and broken up for scrap in New Jersey. USS Massey earned two battle stars for WWII service and four battle stars for Korean services.
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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 the Awards Manual, the Air Medal is to be awarded to recognize participation in aerial combat.
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[bio compiled by G47]


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  • Maintained by: G47
  • Added: 16 May 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 22216
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for LCDR Lance Edward “Lem” Massey (20 Sep 1909–4 Jun 1942), Find A Grave Memorial no. 22216, citing Brookside Cemetery, Watertown, Jefferson County, New York, USA ; Maintained by G47 (contributor 47281148) .