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The Midway Blockbuster sinks faster than Japanese carriers in … Midway



SAN DIEGO – William Fentres was just a teenager when he sailed for Midway as a Navy cook.

On Thursday's private film adaptation of the movie based on the battle he saw with his own eyes – we'll get to how bad the movie was in a second – the 94-year-old quietly recounted his experience aboard the USS Yorktown (CV-5) and the months leading up to this core commitment.

"We reached Hawaii after the Battle of the Coral Sea and had at least 30 days to patch the ship," Fentres said of the war.

But the Navy could not stand 30 days and ordered the aircraft carrier to be ready.

  WWII veteran and Midway William Fentres arrives at a screening event in San Diego (JD Simkins)

"We were all crazy," Fentres laughed. "We thought we would stay in Hawaii."

When, at first glance, endless waves of low-flying Japanese fighter jets approached Yorktown on June 4, 1942, all Tennessee natives could stick around and watch. Fentris and the others rose for impact before the torpedo struck the already wounded carrier, shook it like a rag doll, and sent men descending into the ocean.

"I couldn't swim like a kid," he said. "You know, Tennessee has nothing but rivers anyway." … When I hit the water, I don't know what I was thinking, to tell you the truth. I was just trying to move up and down. But when I came across this water, I suddenly learned how to swim.