USA: Chief of Naval Operations Honors 70th Anniversary of Battle of Midway
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert delivered remarks at a wreath-laying ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, June 4.
During the service, which was held at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., Greenert thanked the veterans who served seven decades ago during the Battle of Midway, the decisive naval battle that was the turning point in the Pacific Theatre of World War II (WWII).
“I’d like to say thank you to the many veterans who served, not only in World War II, but in Midway,” said Greenert. “It’s because of you that we exist today as the greatest navy in the world. I’d also like to thank our Sailors who are out there getting the job done, day in and day out.”
Greenert also spoke about the determination, bravery and continuing legacy of the Sailors who fought in the Battle of Midway.
“These were common people doing uncommon things, we talk about them as the world’s greatest generation and they really were,” he said. “The Battle of Midway was the turning point on the war in the Pacific. It absolutely stopped the momentum of the enemy in the Pacific, and it established the United States Navy as the preeminent force in the world, and we have never looked back.”
Henry “Hank” Kudzik travelled from Pennsylvania to be at the ceremony. He served aboard U.S.S. Nautilus (SS-168) when it was bombarded with depth charges during the Battle of Midway.
“When they drop the charges, they try and have them explode below or next to you, because the explosion will go the path of least resistance, which is up because the pressure is lower,” said Kudzik. “The Nautilus, she was an old submarine, built in 1930. I really didn’t think we’d survive the first round, but we did, and she held up long enough to make fourteen more trips… I’m lucky to be here.”
During the ceremony, Greenert encouraged present-day Sailors to maintain the success of the fleet through the example of Midway veterans, like Kudzik.
“Today we have Sailors who are also common people doing uncommon things,” said Greenert. “They’re adapting, just like the Sailors in the Battle of Midway and WWII in general. These were confident and proficient Sailors in WWII and our Sailors today understand how important it is to train, how important technology is and how important understanding our heritage is.”
Similar wreath-laying ceremonies to commemorate the battle took place on ships and bases across the fleet.
Naval Today Staff, June 5, 2012; Image: US Navy