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March 17, 2014

Talk by History Prof Tim Orr Will Explore Battle of Midway Through Aviator Accounts

morenews4-lgJack "Dusty" Kleiss

At an upcoming Old Dominion University Alumni Association event, history professor Tim Orr will explore the contributions of American World War II aviators in the decisive allied victory at the Battle of Midway through the telling of firsthand pilot accounts.

The event, titled "The Battle of Midway: An Aviator's Perspective," will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, in the Barry M. Kornblau Alumni Center. The lecture is free and open to the public, but advance reservations are required before March 21. Coffee and dessert will be served.

The program will draw from Orr's ongoing research and offer guests insight into the world of World War II aviators through firsthand accounts that show how their decisions in the air helped bring about the decisive victory at the Battle of Midway.

In his talk, Orr will share the story of Lt. j.g. Jack "Dusty" Kleiss, a dive bomber pilot who spent 28 years as a U.S. Navy service member. In 1941 and 1942, Kleiss served with Scouting Squadron Six and took part in the battles of Pearl Harbor and Midway, earning both the Distinguished Flying Cross and Navy Cross. Kleiss later served as an instructor and aircraft engineer before retiring as a captain in 1962.

"During the Battle of Midway, he dropped bombs on two Japanese carriers and, for these actions, he won the Navy Cross," Orr said. "Although he lived an illustrious career, not a day goes by when Kleiss does not think about the Battle of Midway, an epic sea battle that may have changed the course of world history."

Orr is an assistant professor of history in the ODU College of Arts and Letters. He specializes in American military history from the Colonial period to present day. Within that, Orr has researched and written extensively on Civil War topics and was featured last year, along with pop singer Kelly Clarkson, in the premiere episode of TLC's "Who Do You Think You Are?," a television show that explores the genealogy of certain celebrities' families.

To register for "The Battle of Midway: An Aviator's Perspective," visit the ODU Alumni Association webpage.