USA: NAVSTA Norfolk Remembers Battle of Midway

NAVSTA Norfolk Commemorates 71st Anniversary of Battle of Midway

Naval Station (NAVSTA) Norfolk commemorated the 71st anniversary of the Battle of Midway in a ceremony, June 5. 

The historic and decisive battle, which took place June 4-7, 1942, is regarded by many as the turning point in the Pacific during World War II. During the sea battle, U.S. Navy carrier strike forces, augmented by shore-based bombers and torpedo planes, defeated an Imperial Japanese navy carrier task force.

“It is good for the people to learn that freedom was not free, and this ceremony is a way to express that,” said guest speaker Capt. Dexter Rumsey II, USN (RET), Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana’s 17th commanding officer, 1964 – 1966. “They gave the ultimate sacrifice to give us freedom. We are just the lucky ones who got back.”

Rumsey entered the Navy as an aviation cadet and was assigned to four commands before assuming command of NAS Oceana. He had a support role flying patrol planes during Midway.

During the battle, Japan lost four carriers, a heavy cruiser, three destroyers and 256 planes. The United States lost Yorktown, a destroyer and 145 planes. Japan’s losses, both at Midway and at the Battle of Coral Sea, shifted the balance of naval power in the Pacific; Japan was never able to recover from its losses.

“This commemoration event on the Battle of Midway is important for everyone to remember the past and the service members that defended this country, and gave their lives so that we are free today and continue to be free,” said NAVSTA Sailor Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Narcisco Penate. “It is great to attend these events because you meet the service members who participated in past wars, it has been an honor for me to be here and pay tribute to those service members.”

The actions of the service members during the battle prevented Japanese forces from capturing Midway Island and according to many, marked the dawn of the U.S. Navy’s global prominence and the coming of age of carrier aviation.

Approximately one month after the Battle of Coral Sea and six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Navy decisively defeated the Imperial Japanese Navy and turned the war in U.S. favor.

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Press Release, June 6, 2013; Image: US Navy

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