Lt. McKenzie, USN Hull ship superintendent

Lt. Boyd McMurray is holding a personal recommendation from the Secretary of the Navy ah weuu as wearing the Purple Heart. Lt. McKenzie, USN Hull ship superintendent, was aboard the USS Yorktown, gallant aircraft carrier which was sunk in the battle of Midway.

McKenzie served a full 18 months as ship’s carpenter, participating in the first raid on the first raid on the Marshall Islands Tulagi, Gilbert Islands, Salamana, and Lae in New Guinea and the Coral sea, gave a graphic description of the sinking of the carrier.

The USS Yorktown returned to Pearl Harbor from the Coral Sea after 104 days of continuous battle, steaming to sea in May, 1942, in a badly damaged condition from one direct hit by a bomb, which ripped her sides open. Just 72 hours later following emergency repairs, the carrier headed out to intercept the Jap fleet off Midway.

On June 3 the Yorktown joined the most powerful task force ever assemble up to that time, including carriers, cruisers, and 15 other destroyers. After recognizance photos revealed the Japs to be mooring on Midway an enemy carrier was contacted by navy and army bombers. During the nights of June 3 and 4, the Yorktown left the task force with five other ships as escorts. Before dawn scout planes took off, spotted the Midway assault and reported the following Jap battleships being bombed.  Two enemy carriers had been spotted, another was in flames, and accordingly, an attack group was launched.

Trouble started at 11:45 a.m. on June 4. The air department on the Yorktown was secured and the gunnery took over. Jap bombers loomed quickly over the horizon and swooped down over the ship, scoring three hits, one on the No. 1 elevator, another hit a stack, suffered fire out of the boilers while a third landed on the hanger deck, causing the death of the gun crew and wounding many others. Despite the fact that he suffered seven wounds, one man put a gun in operation after 17 others were killed.

McKenzie all the while was at his damage control station. Fires burned madly near the gasoline and gun magazine, but after relighting the boiler the ship got underway at 25 knots.

But trouble did not cease for the wounded ship. Again attacked by Jap torpedo planes, the ship listed after being hit forward and amid ship and portside.

Because of the probability that she would sink, it was decided to abandon the ship. The wounded were put in life rafts and then transferred to other destroyers and cruisers.

Two fires were extinguished but one kept burning near of gasoline stores. A volunteer squad of 125 men was commissioned aboard the carrier, including McKenzie to again attempt salvage work, aided by the destroyer USS Hammann which supplied the water.

On June 6 a Jap sub sank the destroyer with several torpedoes, the Hammann’s depth charges exploded under the Yorktown, killing many men that had been thrown into the water from the destroyer. The salvage crew abandoned the Yorktown and it sank the next morning when the Hammann blew up.

McKenzie trapped in the explosion, was blown into an elevator shaft as he was directing damage control and helping with the salvage work.

Hospitalization, long and tiring was McKenzie’s fate until he recovered. 

Lt. McKenzie volunteered in the navy 28 years ago. Going with him were two more Maryville boys who served three years, these being Frank Moore and Carl Toomey. Lit. McKenzie is the son of the late Mr. And Mrs. Bart McKenzie and lived on Depot Street where the Masonic hall now stands. He is a brother of Alfred McKenzie and cousin of the late General Hugh Matthews. Lt McKenzie said as soon as he retires he is coming to Maryville to make his home.


Source: Maryville Enterprise / Thursday October 11, 1945
"Maryvillian Honored By Secretary Of Navy For Heroism Aboard USS Yorktown"