Hawaii Sailors Commemorate Battle of Midway

More than 150 Sailors participated in a wreath laying ceremony on the USS Arizona Memorial June 4 to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the Battle of Midway. 

The Battle of Midway, considered the turning point of the Pacific during World War II, was fought over a period of three days starting June 4, 1942 when U.S. Navy strike forces prevented the Japanese from taking control of the Midway Islands.

“The war started with the attack on Pearl Harbor and the sinking of USS Arizona and ended when the surrender documents were signed on the deck of USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay,” said Rear Admiral Frank Ponds, Commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific. “To me Missouri and Arizona are symbols of the triumph that is the American fighting spirit. The spirit that was able to overcome our heavy losses at Pearl Harbor and then gain victory from superior forces at the Battle of Midway.”

The event focused on the historical importance of the Battle of Midway, which occurred nearly six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

A relatively small fleet of U.S. forces defended against and defeated four carriers of the Japanese navy during the Battle of Midway, which resulted in one of the most significant losses in Japanese naval history.

The keynote speaker for the ceremony was retired Navy Admiral Thomas Fargo, who previously served as Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet during the time the Midway Atoll was designated as the “Battle of Midway National Memorial.”

“The success at the Battle of Midway was an emotional lift and a momentum shift, a morale boost that finally demonstrated that the American forces had what it took to indisputably win the war in the Pacific” said Fargo. “The legacy of our Midway veterans is embodied in the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces today.”

Chief Logistics Specialist Ebony Pinnock marked the conclusion of the ceremony explaining what the significance of the traditional wreath laying.

“This wreath, and the wreaths being presented around the world, is in honor of our Midway veterans,” said Pinnock. “We took a moment to remember and honor the spirit of the Midway victory in our Navy and our nation, we pause to honor all those who have served and continued to serve with honor, courage and commitment.”

For some of the attending Sailors, this was their first experience aboard the USS Arizona Memorial.

“I felt invigorated, I was trying not to cry,” said Seaman Colton Yount, assigned to USS Reuben James (FFG 57). “This was my first time being a part of a ceremony like that. To actually be there and to witness something like that it actually made me feel kind of proud to be a part of the Navy and this country and know I’m also playing a role in defending my country just like the people at the Battle of Midway.”

Press Release, June 6, 2013