Woodbury County

Seaman Donald Broome



Seaman Donald Broome, storekeeper, third class, the son of Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Broome, 210 22d street, home on a 21-day furlough, is one of those sailors who went through the battle of Midway and saw his ship torpedoed from under him a day after the engagement was over.  “We got through the fight all right and it was only afterward that a torpedo caught up with us,” he related today after the government officially announced the loss of his ship, the destroyer Hammann and the aircraft carrier, Yorktown.

Torpedoes Do Job After Planes Fail in Four Days of Battle

By John Ralston.

Smiling, unassuming 20-year old Donald Broome has proven himself something of a hero under bombing and machine gunning from Japanese planes but doesn’t think it is anything to write home about.

Seaman Broome, storekeeper, third class, in Uncle Sam’s Navy for the last two years, stood on the bridge on the United States destroyer Hammann during the battle of Midway while enemy planes bombed the ship.

He was on the same spot a day later when Nipponese submarines sent torpedoes crashing into the destroyer and he went over the ship’s side and hung to a raft for more than a half hour before being picked up.

And to make his story complete, he spent two weeks in a Honolulu hospital recovering from stomach and chest concussions that he suffered in the battle.

Seaman Broome, dark haired, six feet tall, and slim, sat on the front porch at 210 22d street, the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Broome, this morning and told his story and reactions to his battle experiences.

During the three-day battle of Midway, he handled a telephone on the bridge relaying messages to other portions of the ship.  He is home on a 21-day furlough.

John Ploff, 21, son of Mr. and Mrs. John W. Ploff, 1422 Rebecca street, was on the same destroyer and was killed.

“He was my buddy,” Seaman Broome said.  “But I didn’t see him during the battle and don’[t know what happened to him. I only learned later that he was dead.”

The destroyer Hammann was within 1,000 yards of the aircraft carrier Yorktown, which was damaged, during much of the engagement, the Sioux Cityan related.  It was Jap bombers that put the Yorktown and the Hammann out of action.

“But do you know that only five of about 36 bombers were able to get through our fighters to attack our ships?” Broome asked.

He went on to say that the Jap pilots “are plenty good” but that “all this talk of suicide squads isn’t true,” as far as he was able to determine.

“I saw a lot of those Jap planes and all of them wanted to get away when the fighting got too hot,” declared Broome.

“Another funny thing about their planes is this:  They all must be made of fabric or some material like that.  For every time they are shot down they go down in flames.”

Seaman Broome has never seen a Japanese ship.  He explained that the fighting is on such a scale that enemy ships never are visible.

“But you certainly get to see a lot of enemy planes,” he laughed.

Broome told of his experience of being torpedoed.

“I was standing on the bridge relaying a message when I saw the torpedoes coming through the water.  When they struck, the impact jarred me and I was thrown against a railing, bumping my head.  That was when I was hurt but I didn’t know it at the time.”

He said orders to abandon the ship were given almost immediately and everybody scrambled over the side into the water.  He was able to grab onto the side of a life raft where he hung for about a half hour before he was picked up by a cruiser.

“No, I didn’t think much about what might happen to me,” he explained.  “I was kept too busy to think about anything.”

Seaman Broome, who has lived in Sioux City all his life and has two brothers, Joseph in the United States marine corps at Jacksonville, Fla., and Rob in a training school at Washington, is a Central high school graduate. He enlisted here July 9, 1940.

“When my furlough is up, I’m going back to another ship—it’s a new one but I can’t tell you where,” he smiled.

Source: The Sioux City Journal, July 15, 1942  (photo included)