Story and photo by Paul Long, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
(YOKOSUKA, Japan) – On the 70th anniversary of the European Theater’s most famous battle, D-Day, Fleet Activities (FLEACT), Yokosuka commemorated the 72nd anniversary of the Battle of Midway during a ceremony held June 6.
Commander, FLEACT Yokosuka, Capt. David Glenister made the opening remarks.
“This was the first naval battle that Japan had lost since (The Battle of Shimoneki Straits) 1863,” Glenister said. “There was a lot to the Battle of Midway; beyond the tactics, beyond the fighting. It was the people that made the difference. This was one of the defining moments of the 20th century and it’s important that we remember it.”
The Battle of Midway took place six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, from June 4 to 7, 1942, and was one of the most decisive naval battles of World War II. Because the Navy was able to decipher the Imperial Japanese Naval codes, they were able to pre-empt and counter the Japanese planned attack against the American aircraft carriers off Midway Island. At the conclusion of this battle, the U.S. was no longer on the defensive in the Pacific.
Imperial Japanese Admiral Isoroko Yamamoto had planned the attack on Midway in an effort to knock the U.S. Pacific Fleet out of the war and occupy the island, after the successful Doolittle raid on Japan’s main island on April 18, 1942.
At that time, Midway Island was a forward staging and replenishment base for U.S. forces in the Pacific.
John Oliver, from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, District 2, Japan, was the guest speaker for the ceremony and recounted the opening highlights from that famous battle.
“At 10:26 a.m. on June 4, 1942, the course of World War II in the Pacific changed significantly,” Oliver said. “At that moment, 37 Douglas Dauntless bombers from the USS Enterprise (CV-6), peeled off into a dive attack on two Japanese aircraft carriers (Kaga and Akagi). Within minutes both ships were ablaze. Within six hours, the other two carriers (Soryu and Hiryu) in their fleet had also been destroyed. The force that had dominated the Pacific for six months was in ruins, extinguishing the hopes of an empire.”
The Japanese had lost four carriers, one heavy cruiser, 228 aircraft, and 3,057 men most of which were highly trained carrier air crews and the U.S. had lost one carrier, one destroyer, 145 aircraft, and 340 men.
The ceremony concluded with the playing of Taps and all in attendance reciting the Sailor’s Creed.