Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Midway Island 1942
What picture can one who lives in the middle of the United States posts that adequately thanks those that fought in the Battle of Midway on June 4 to 6 1942. I chose today's picture due to the lone star in the sea of brick. It was a position many navy pilots faced in those fateful days of June over the Pacific, flying desperately trying to locate a Japanese fleet they knew was there. Many would never return, the vast Pacific now their final resting place.
Early 1942 was probably the darkest hour for the United States. The Pacific Fleet was still shattered. Ships still lay broken in Pearl Harbor. The aircraft carrier Lexington had just been lost and the Yorktown was badly crippled after the Battle of Coral Sea and had just limped back into Pearl.
It was this time that code breakers in Washington had discovered the target of the next Japanese onslaught. The farthest western islands of the Hawaiian chain. Midway Islands. It was discovered quite by accident and persistence of a few men who believed in their abilities.
Fortunately they were able to convince Command that they were right. The US Navy had about a week to prepare. The Yorktown was hurriedly repaired. The Enterprise and Hornet were sent out to set up an ambush.
To make a long story short the Japanese Fleet was found right where it was supposed to be. The US Navy achieved the surprise they sought and in the end four of Japan's carriers, Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu and Soryu, all Pearl Harbor veterans were gone. The hapless Yorktown was the only US casualty from a ship standpoint. Many pilots were lost including all but one of Torpedo Squadron 8 of the Hornet. Out of 30 men flying antiquated Devastator torpedo bombers only one survived bobbing in the Pacific witnessing the destruction of the Japanese fleet around him.
It was the turning point of the war...it really wasn't well known then. The Japanese lost over 300 pilots and the heart of their carrier fleet.
Think about those men today when you get a chance.