Lawmakers push for Watertown Navy Veteran to receive Medal of Honor

State News

Lieutenant Commander Lance Massey (photo; USNA Memorial Hall)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWTI) — The next Medal of Honor recipient might be one with ties to the North Country.

Local lawmakers and representatives from across the country are advocating for Lieutenant Commander Lance Massey to receive the Medal of Honor. Massey was a Veteran of the United States Navy and was born in Syracuse in 1909, but was raised in Watertown.

Massey is known for his leadership in the Battle of Midway, which was a major naval battle in the Pacific Theater in World War II, six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. During this battle, Massey led a torpedo squadron against the Japanese, which is considered the most “critical” U.S, naval victory in the Pacific Theater. Massey died in this battle.

Before enlisting in the Navy, Massey attended two years of high school in Watertown, which he later continued in Maryland. He was sixteen-years-old when he entered the U.S. Naval Academy.

Massey graduated from the Naval Academy in 1930 and was commissioned as an Ensign, initially assigned to the battleship USS Texas. He continued to advance in his naval career, moving across the country with his family prior to World War II.

In January of 1942, he was appointed Lieutenant Commander. During World War II is participated in several major events, which included the Battle of Midway. Others included the action against Japanese surface vessels at Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands and his assistance in escorting the USS Hornet for General Doolittle’s famous bombing raid on Tokyo.

He was the only child of Walter Griffith Massey and Florence Lance Massey. Additionally, his great, great grandfathers is noted as one of the founders of Watertown.

To commend these actions, four representatives of the United States Congress issued a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro. The letter was sent from Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, R-NY, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-WA, Dusty Johnson, D-CA and Steve Womack, R-AR.

The letter also urged Secretary Del Toro to award the Medal of Honor to Lieutenant Commanders Eugene Lindsey and John Charles Waldron. The letter reads:

 Dear Secretary Del Toro,

Congratulations on your recent confirmation by the Senate to the office of Secretary of the Navy. I look forward to working in partnership with you to secure and defend America. The United States Navy has a long legacy of brave men and women who have fought and served in defense of our great nation. 

We are writing you today regarding three of those brave men, Lieutenant Commanders Lance Massey, Eugene Lindsey, and John Charles Waldron. These men were the commanders of Torpedo Squadrons 3, 6, and 8 (VT-3, VT-6, VT-8), which attacked Japanese Naval forces on June 4, 1942, during the Battle of Midway in the Second World War, beginning the crucial battle and surprising the Japanese Navy. 

While all the men who participated in the almost universally suicidal attack that day deserve recognition, we believe that the three commanders of the Torpedo Squadrons deserve the highest recognition that our nation can give: the Medal of Honor. As the men who initiated the battle that day, the decisions made by Massey, Lindsey, and Waldron, without regard for their own lives, allowed U.S. forces to cripple the Japanese Navy in what proved to be a decisive turning point in the war. Waldron was the first to discover the enemy fleet, and he bravely led VT-8 in an attack that delayed a Japanese strike. Lindsey and Massey followed the smoke from Waldron’s attack, leading VT-6 and VT-3 in attacks on the Japanese carriers Hiryu and Kaga. These attacks threw off the Japanese Navy’s battle plans and allowed American dive bombers to find the carriers and ultimately sink them. 

After the Battle of Midway, the Japanese Navy went from being on the offensive to being on the defensive for the rest of the war, a result directly attributable to the early actions of Massey, Lindsey, and Waldron. It is deeply moving to hear about the heroic actions of these men that day in the face of certain death and learn how their actions were instrumental in America’s victory in the Second World War. 

We believe that Massey, Lindsey, and Waldron deserve the Medal of Honor, and we respectfully request that you review the events of June 4, 1942 and consider these men for the highest award for military valor that our nation can bestow. We are ready to work alongside you to ensure they receive this recognition posthumously should you determine they are deserving of the award. Please do not hesitate to contact Matthew Cardenas at matthew.cardenas@mail.house.gov should you have any questions on this matter.

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