William Clare Lawe-born on 26 January 1910 at Carson City, Mich.-enlisted in the Navy on 27 April 1928, at Detroit, and attained the rate of aviation metalsmith third class (AM3c). Lawe was assigned to a part of Torpedo Squadron (VT) 8 which received the new Grumman TBF-1 (Avenger) torpedo plane. This detachment from VT-8 temporarily left carrier Hornet (CV-8) to train in the TBF's. They eventually arrived at Luke Field, Hawaii, for final training prior to rejoining their squadron mates in Hornet.
As American cryptoanalysts found that the Japanese planned an assault on strategic Midway Atoll, preparations proceeded rapidly to prepare the island to repel the expected attack. Accordingly, AM3c Lawe volunteered to participate in a detachment flight to Midway as aircrew in one of the six planes commanded by Lt. Langdon K. Fieberling. Lawe rode as gunner in the Avenger flown by Ens. Charles E. Brannon USNR.
After arriving at Midway on 1 June 1942, the six-plane detachment spent the next few days in readiness. On 4 June at 0600, Lt. Fieberling's six planes took off, bound for the Japanese fleet. Attacked by Japanese "Zero" fighters within six minutes of their departure, the TBF's evaded their pursuers and climbed to 4,000 feet. At 0700, the airmen sighted the Japanese fleet and applied full throttle as they dove to 150 feet.
The six TBF's roared in astern of the Japanese carriers, but suddenly found themselves beset by swarms of "Zeroes". One pilot, his plane shot up badly in the early approach, dropped his torpedo at the nearest target of opportunity-a light cruiser-and then nursed his crippled plane back to Midway. But five other aircraft-including Ens. Brannon's with AM3c Lawe on board-were shot down miles from their objective.
For his part in this brave action, AM3c Lawe received a posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross.