USS Nimitz Remembers Battle of Midway


The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) marked the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, the turning point of the Pacific campaign in World War II, June 4.

“Every Sailor on board this ship is fully aware of its namesake’s role in this decisive battle,” said Nimitz Commanding Officer Capt. Jeff Ruth. “More importantly, the crew recognizes the collective efforts of every Sailor, Airman and Marine that made such a monumental victory possible.”

The USS Nimitz (CVN 68) audio project “Soundwaves” will feature numerous audio recollections from veterans of the battle. Among these include the narrative of retired Rear Adm. Mac Showers (then ensign) who was with Rochefort when the plan to discover “AF’s” location was developed. Additionally, the ship’s website features a video documentary on the experiences of retired Cmdr. Harry Ferrier who, as a 17-year-old radioman and gunner at the time, took off from Midway in one of the island’s six TBF-1 “Avenger” aircraft to defend against the approaching Japanese fleet. His was the only one to return.

Ferrier, who lives quietly in Oak Harbor, Wash., was the ship’s guest of honor at the ship’s remembrance dinner this year. “I’m not a hero,” he explained. “To me, the real heroes of Midway are the guys who didn’t come back.”

The vastly outnumbered and badly damaged U.S. Pacific Fleet was on the brink of annihilation following the devastating attack by Japanese forces at Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941. In a bold strategic move that countered conventional wisdom at the time, U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Chester Nimitz took the advice of the Intelligence officers on his staff and positioned his struggling fleet, undetected, to the northeast of Midway Atoll in early 1942. Nimitz’ codebreakers had successfully deciphered enough of the Japanese communications to determine they were building for a major offensive in the Pacific.

In a move historians would later reflect as pivotal, Cmdr. Joe Rochefort devised a trap to get the Japanese to reveal the location of their offensive, codenamed “AF.”

Armed with this information, Nimitz successfully deployed his remaining aircraft carriers USS Enterprise (CV 6), USS Hornet (CV 8) and USS Yorktown (CV 5) to the tiny island where they took the approaching Japanese fleet completely off guard. Successful coordinated attacks from the American carriers’ dive bombers destroyed four of the Japanese carriers effectively ending the empire’s dominance of the Pacific theater.

Naval Today Staff, June 6, 2012