My father, Elmer A. Struss’ best friend his entire life since childhood was Robert Jack “Coogie” Ney from Eagle Lake, Texas. An article found in FOX news written by James Rogers today, brought back memories of a piece I wrote for a local history book in Eagle Lake, Texas about our small town hero. To commemorate the 75 Anniversary of the Battle of Midway, I offer a segment out of one of my novels:
ENSIGN ROBERT J. NEY MEMBER OF RAID GROUP IN ATTACK ON JAPANESE FLEET IN THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY 1942
Ensign Robert ‘Coogie’ J. Ney of Eagle Lake, Texas and crew, were the first to locate the Japanese Fleet, launching the first moonlight torpedo attack ever recorded in naval history.
From a height of several thousand feet, they saw a Japanese Aircraft Carrier, and down they went. Gliding over the screen of destroyers, they approached close enough to see it was a large transport. Her decks were crowded. Their approach was made on the transport’s beam, but as they got closer, the ship swung to starboard in a frantic effort to escape.
She couldn’t turn fast enough, however, and when the Catalina, the plane that Coogie was on, was within hailing distance of the water, a torpedo was launched directly at the transport’s stern. A red glow rose from the stern of the carrier. That was enough. Ensign Ney and the crew called it a night. Bravo Coogie!
Gas was running low, only 15 gallons left. For an hour, the crew flew on instruments through rain squalls. They landed on an open sea. For six hours they were adrift on the Pacific, eating emergency rations and waiting to be picked up. They were rescued and towed in by a motor launch. There was not a drop of gas left in the tanks.
Nine months after the Battle of Midway, he returned home to Eagle Lake and is seen below with his mother, Maybelle Ney next to their home on Walnut Street.
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