Lofton Henderson was born on May 24, 1903, in Lorain, Ohio. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1922, and was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Marine Corps in June 1926. After completing flight training and being designated a Naval Aviator, Henderson served aboard the aircraft carriers USS Langley (CV-1), USS Ranger (CV-4), and USS Saratoga (CV-3), and served in Nicaragua and China before World War II. During World War II, Maj Henderson commanded Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 241 (VMSB-241), and led his unit on the first day of the Battle of Midway, where he was killed in action on June 4, 1942. Henderson Field on Guadalcanal was named in his honor, as was the destroyer USS Henderson (DD-785).
His Navy Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Major Lofton Russell Henderson, United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession while serving as Squadron Commander and a Pilot in Marine Scout-Bombing Squadron TWO HUNDRED FORTY-ONE (VMSB-241), Marine Air Group TWENTY-TWO (MAG-22), Naval Air Station, Midway, during operations of the U.S. Naval and Marine Forces against the invading Japanese Fleet during the Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942. With utter disregard for his own personal safety, Major Henderson, with keen judgment and courageous aggressiveness in the face of strong enemy fighter opposition, led his squadron in an attack which contributed materially to the defeat of the enemy. He was subsequently reported as missing it action. It is believed he gallantly gave up his life in the service of his country.