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Remembering Pearl Harbor

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December 7,1941, is a date that will live in infamy.”

As we note the 76th anniversary of the bombing, how many people still think about Pearl Harbor?

Not many I know. I have heard the comment that it was so long ago.

I will always remember Pearl Harbor, and our daughter’s will be taught about Pearl Harbor.

They will be taught to honor the memory of the people who lost their lives there and in the war.

Both the Pearl Harbor attack and the attacks on the World Trade Center have been forgotten.

Both attacks were made by fanatical cowards.

Just as then, we are now in a fight for freedom.

Like then, the fanatics must be wiped out by whatever means are necessary.

Let’s take a look back at the attack at Pearl Harbor.

The Japanese aircraft carriers were approximately 270 miles north of the coast of Oahu.

There were two waves of attacking aircraft of 350 planes, starting at 7:53 a.m. and ending at 9:55 a.m., Honolulu time. By 1 p.m. the Japanese aircraft carriers were on their way back to Japan.

The Japanese lost approximately 65 airplanes, five midget submarines, and one large submarine.

For The United States the losses were as follows:

188 airplanes destroyed.

Eight battleships were badly damaged or destroyed, including the USS Arizona.

There were a total of 2,403 military and civilian deaths.

When the USS Arizona sank, it killed 1,170 crew members, including 37 sets of brothers.

We must always remember Pearl Harbor and honor everyone who served in World War II.

We must also honor all of those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

My Uncle P.F.C. Frank Walters was one of the many Americans that died for our freedom

Our daughters will know about Pearl Harbor and honoring our veterans.

The U.S.S.Arizona still sheds oil stained tears for her lost crew members and the dead of December 7,1941

 

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Remembering Pearl Harbor

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th

December 7,1941, is a date that will live in infamy.”

As we note the 75th anniversary of the bombing, how many people still think about Pearl Harbor?

Not many I know. I have heard the comment that it was so long ago.

I will always remember Pearl Harbor, and our daughter’s will be taught about Pearl Harbor.

They will be taught to honor the memory of the people who lost their lives there and in the war.

Both the Pearl Harbor attack and the attacks on the World Trade Center have been forgotten.

Both attacks were made by fanatical cowards.

Just as then, we are now in a fight for freedom.

Like then, the fanatics must be wiped out by whatever means are necessary.

Let’s take a look back at the attack at Pearl Harbor.

The Japanese aircraft carriers were approximately 270 miles north of the coast of Oahu.

There were two waves of attacking aircraft of 350 planes, starting at 7:53 a.m. and ending at 9:55 a.m., Honolulu time. By 1 p.m. the Japanese aircraft carriers were on their way back to Japan.

The Japanese lost approximately 65 airplanes, five midget submarines, and one large submarine.

For The United States the losses were as follows:

188 airplanes destroyed.

Eight battleships were badly damaged or destroyed, including the USS Arizona.

There were a total of 2,403 military and civilian deaths.

When the USS Arizona sank, it killed 1,170 crew members, including 37 sets of brothers.

We must always remember Pearl Harbor and honor everyone who served in World War II.

We must also honor all of those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

My Uncle P.F.C. Frank Walters was one of the many Americans that died for our freedom

Our daughters will know about Pearl Harbor and honoring our veterans.

The U.S.S.Arizona still sheds oil stained tears for her lost crew members and the dead of December 7,1941

Pearl Harbor survivor Anthony ‘Tony’ Gannarelli dies at 102

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This is from The Dallas Morning News.

We have lost another member of The Greatest Generation.

R. I. P. Anthony ‘Tony’ Gannarelli.

Anthony Gannarelli, left, sits with his wife Kathryn at the American Legion Post 321.

Anthony “Tony” Gannarelli didn’t know much when he joined the Navy in 1934, but he learned plenty the day he looked out from his bed in the sick ward to see a Japanese fighter buzzing over a hangar at Pearl Harbor.

“I didn’t know anything. I didn’t even know how those big ships even floated,” Gannarelli told The Dallas Morning News in 2012. “But I learned all I could.”

The 28-year-old Navy turret gunner quickly assessed the situation in 1941.

“Boy, we got troubles,” the longtime Plano resident recalled thinking.

Gannarelli died Wednesday in Port Royal, where he moved to be closer to his daughter. He was just five days shy of his 103rd birthday.

Services will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at Turrentine-Jackson-Morrow Funeral Home in Allen. Gannarelli will be laid to rest with military honors at Ridgeview Memorial Park in Allen.

Visitation will be from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Saturday at the funeral home.

Gannarelli was born in Huntingdon, Penn., in 1913 and joined the Navy at age 21 because there were “just no jobs” and he saw Uncle Sam staring at him everywhere he went.

During World War II and afterward, Gannarelli swiftly moved up the ranks and was awarded several medals and ribbons. He was honored in 2014 at a ceremony for the Frisco Veterans Memorial in Frisco Commons Park.

Gannarelli was a devoted Catholic and a family man who enjoyed woodworking and fixing things, having worked in Sears’ automotive department for 19 years.

His military career spanned 25 years, and he eventually retired in Plano with his wife of 69 years, Kathryn Gannarelli, where they lived until she passed in 2014.

“He talked to everybody in Plano,” his daughter Dana Schuld said. “He was tenderhearted and he never met a stranger.”

Many teachers, including his granddaughter, incorporated Gannarelli into their history lessons, inviting him to talk to students about his Pearl Harbor experiences.

“He loved talking to kids,” Schuld said. “Up until the very end, he could tell you the name of the commanders on the ship. He was alert and with it.”

Gannarelli is survived by his daughter and her husband, Norman, of Sheldon, S.C.; grandson Daniel S. Poncik; granddaughter Morgan K. LeFevre and her husband, Justin; and great-granddaughter Anabella M. LeFevre.

Just last week, Gannarelli was presented with a quilt honoring his military service, along with a framed military map and sand from the Japanese island of Iwo Jima.

Schuld was preparing to hang the memorabilia at her father’s home when his health took a turn for the worse. Now, it will serve as a reminder of him and his war stories.

“He was an all-around type of guy,” Schuld said. “I was always so proud of him. He was a great father and was always there for us.”

Remembering Pearl Harbor

4 Comments

 

th

December 7,1941, is a date that will live in infamy.”

As we note the 74th anniversary of the bombing, how many people still think about Pearl Harbor?

Not many I know. I have heard the comment that it was so long ago.

I will always remember Pearl Harbor, and our daughter’s will be taught about Pearl Harbor.

They will be taught to honor the memory of the people who lost their lives there and in the war.

Both the Pearl Harbor attack and the attacks on the World Trade Center have been forgotten.

Both attacks were made by fanatical cowards.

Just as then, we are now in a fight for freedom.

Like then, the fanatics must be wiped out by whatever means are necessary.

Let’s take a look back at the attack at Pearl Harbor.

The Japanese aircraft carriers were approximately 270 miles north of the coast of Oahu.

There were two waves of attacking aircraft of 350 planes, starting at 7:53 a.m. and ending at 9:55 a.m., Honolulu time. By 1 p.m. the Japanese aircraft carriers were on their way back to Japan.

The Japanese lost approximately 65 airplanes, five midget submarines, and one large submarine.

For The United States the losses were as follows:

188 airplanes destroyed.

Eight battleships were badly damaged or destroyed, including the USS Arizona.

There were a total of 2,403 military and civilian deaths.

When the USS Arizona sank, it killed 1,170 crew members, including 37 sets of brothers.

We must always remember Pearl Harbor and honor everyone who served in World War II.

We must also honor all of those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

My Uncle P.F.C. Frank Walters was one of the many Americans that died for our freedom

Our daughters will know about Pearl Harbor and honoring our veterans.

The U.S.S.Arizona still sheds oil stained tears for her lost crew members and the dead of December 7,1941

November 22,1963 The End Of Camelot

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If you are old enough, you can recall this terrible day.

You can recall where you were, and what you were doing when you heard the news.
Like the greatest generation and Pearl Harbor, the memory is vivid in our minds.
I was nine years old at the time. I recall the teacher turning on the television to warm up. ( Yes, TVs then had tubes so they needed to warm up.)
Instead of our usual science program, there was a newscaster saying President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas. We were stunned and started to cry.
Then the announcement came that we were going home early.
The bus ride home was quiet except for our sobs.

When I got home my mother had the television on and we heard that President Kennedy had died. That added to the sorrow of that horrible day.

My younger brother was about five years old at that time.
He was a real fan of President Kennedy.
Whenever he heard the President’s voice, he would run into the room to listen.
He was really heart-broken.
Over the next few days we watched the events unfold in Dallas.
A suspect was named and then arrested. It was Lee Harvey Oswald.
Then we saw Jack Ruby murder Oswald on television.
President Kennedy’s funeral was broadcast along with John-John‘s salute to his fallen father.
Like the Twin Towers being brought down, this event is forever in my memory.

Remains of seven servicemen killed at Pearl Harbor identified

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This is from Fox News. 

R.I.P. Valiant Warriors Hand Salute. 

In this photo taken July 27, 2015, in Honolulu, military pallbearers salute over the exhumed remains of unidentified crew members of the USS Oklahoma killed in the Dec. 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor. The military says it has identified the remains of seven crew members missing since the Oklahoma capsized in the bombing. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

Photo/Marco Garcia)

The remains of seven crew members missing since the USS Oklahoma capsized in the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor have been identified, the military said Monday.

The names of the servicemen identified using dental records will be released after their families have been notified.

In June, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency began digging up the remains of nearly 400 USS Oklahoma sailors and Marines from a veterans cemetery in Honolulu where they were buried as “unknowns.”

Within five years, officials expect to identify about 80 percent of the Oklahoma crew members still considered missing.

The military says it started the project because advances in forensic science and technology are improving the ability to identify remains.

 On Monday, officials exhumed the last four of 61 caskets containing unknown people from the Oklahoma. Many of the caskets include the remains of multiple individuals.

Families will have the option of receiving remains as they are identified, or waiting until the agency has more pieces of a body or even a complete skeleton. Navy casualty officers will let families know their options.

Altogether, 429 men on board the World War II battleship were killed. Only 35 were identified in the years immediately after.

Identification work will be conducted at agency laboratories in Hawaii and Nebraska. DNA analysis will be conducted at the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

More than 2,400 sailors, Marines and soldiers were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Oklahoma’s casualties were second only to the USS Arizona, which lost 1,177 men.

Real life Steven Segal -Doris Miller, the ship’s cook who took on the Japanese with a .50 cal during Pearl Harbor

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This is from War History OnLine. 

How many more stories like Doris (Dorrie) Miller are going untold or barely being told?

R. I. P.  Mess Attendant First Class  Doris (Dorrie) Miller,

Hand Salute.     

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Mess Attendant First Class Doris “Dorie” Miller was born in Waco, Texas, in 1919, the son of a couple hard-working sharecroppers who had traveled the land working cotton fields. A man who would grow to be one of the more unlikely heroes on one of America’s darkest days, Miller spent every day of his youth on the edge of poverty, just struggling to survive and make ends meet.

In 1939, the 19 year-old Miller enlisted in the Navy. After completing Basic, he was assigned as a Mess Attendant Third Class on the awesomely-named USS Pyro, where he essentially served as a mix between a line cook, a waiter, and housekeeping staff, in the 1930s it was one of the few Navy jobs available to Black sailors, and Miller was damn sure he wanted to serve his country and make some extra money to help provide for his family back home. It didn’t hurt the situation when he was transferred to the battleship USS West Virginia and sent out to enjoy the sunny beaches of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, filled with warm weather, and picturesque palm trees.

But the temporary stay in paradise wouldn’t last long.

At 8am on the morning of 7 December 1941, Mess Attendant Doris Miller was collecting laundry from the bunks when he heard a deafening roar overhead. Two hundred Japanese torpedo planes, fighters, and bombers of every conceivable flavor were bearing down on Hawaii on an insane sneak-attack bombing run that was soon to knock out the bulk of American battleship power in the course of a couple hours, and Miller suddenly found himself in the middle of the biggest battle to hit U.S. since the Civil War.

 

 

His first instinct was one that had been drilled into him through months of training – get to your battlestation. Miller’s station was an anti-aircraft battery located on one of the middle decks of the ship, but no sooner did he get there than he realized that a Japanese torpedo had already blown it up, and now there was a huge hunk of twisted metal where there used to be a giant gun. Not one to be discouraged by this, he rushed up to the deck to see if there was anything he could do to help out.

At this point, the situation on the West Virginia was bad. Planes and bombers were shrieking overhead, unleashing their payloads, and Battleship Row was now little more than a goddamned shooting gallery for Japanese aircraft. Once again, Miller sacked up and did what he had to do. The biggest, strongest, toughest man aboard the ship, he immediately started running across the deck, grabbing wounded men and carrying them to safety on the quarterdeck, where the injured sailors and Marines were partially shielded from the machine guns of strafing Zeroes. After pulling a few men to safety, Miller saw that the ships commander – Captain Bennion – had been mortally wounded by a piece of shrapnel. Bennion was still conscious, trying to direct and command his men, and Miller knew he had to get his C.O. off the bridge and to a place where he would be safe. So Doris Miller sprinted across the deck, blitzing through smoke, water, and flaming oil while bullets zinged around him, grabbed the Captain, and carried him to safety as well.

Now, this in and of itself is some seriously epic heroism, but it’s just the beginning of Doris Miller’s courageous cred. After saving the lives of his comrades by pulling them to safety, the heavyweight boxing champion of the USS West Virginia noticed the some of the deck guns were going unmanned, so he rushed over to a giant .50-caliber anti-aircraft machine gun, strapped himself in, and immediately went to work putting a giant curtain of bullets between West Virginia and the Japanese Naval Air Force.

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Despite not having any training on how to operate the .50-cal (Miller had plenty of experience working hunting rifles back in Texas, so he figured it out pretty quickly), now the ship’s cook was manning a deck gun, blasting Zeroes out of the sky with a stream of tracer fire from the heavy MG. With planes strafing overhead, bombs going off, and ships getting trashed around him, Miller held his ground for fifteen minutes straight, blasting away from his exposed position. During the battle two armor-piercing bombs blasted the deck of the West Virginia and five 18-inch torpedoes hit the port side, but this guy couldn’t be stopped by anything short of his ammunition supply – he only backed down after he ran out of bullets and his half-dead commanding officer ordered him to abandon ship.

The specific details of Dorie Miller’s efficiency with the .50 cal aren’t well-documented – his kill count ranges from “at least one” to “several” depending on who you ask – but you can’t deny the fact that the men of Pearl Harbor (and the citizens who would hear the story later) were inspired by the bravery of this incredible man who had dropped his chef’s hat, saved the lives of a half-dozen Americans, and then blew the hell out of the enemies that were attacking his battleship. Basically, he was Steven Segal from Under Siege.

Doris Miller survived the attack on Pearl Harbor, as did 1,500 of his fellow crewmen aboard West Virginia. When tales of his heroism reached the people of the U.S., they saw it as one of just a few bright spots amid one of the darkest days in American history.

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Chester W. Nimitz pins the Navy Cross on Doris Miller, at ceremony on board USS Enterprise (CV-6) at Pearl Harbor, May 27, 1942.

On December 15, Miller was transferred to the Indianapolis. On January 1, 1942, the Navy released a list of commendations for actions on December 7. Among them was a single commendation for an unnamed Negro. The NAACP asked President Franklin D. Roosevelt to award the Distinguished Service Cross to the unknown Negro sailor. The Navy Board of Awards in Washington D. C. received a recommendation that the sailor be considered for recognition. On March 12, 1942, Dr. Lawrence D. Reddick announced, after corresponding with the Navy, that the name of the unknown Negro sailor was “Doris Miller.” The next day, Senator James N. Mead (D-NY) introduced a Senate Bill  to award Miller the Medal of Honor, although he did not yet know the basis for Miller’s deeds. Four days later, Representative John D. Dingell, Sr.  introduced a matching bill. On March 21, The African-American newspaper Pittsburgh Courier initiated a write-in campaign to send Miller to the Naval Academy.

Miller was recognized as one of the “first US heroes of World War II.” He was commended in a letter signed by Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox on April 1, and the next day CBS radio broadcast an episode of the series “They Live Forever,” which dramatized Miller’s actions.

Negro organizations began a campaign to give Miller additional recognition. The All-Southern Negro Youth Conference launched a signature campaign on April 17–19. On May 10, the National Negro Congress denounced Knox’s recommendation against awarding Miller the Medal of Honor. On May 11, President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved the Navy Cross for Miller.

On May 27, 1942, Miller was personally recognized by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, aboard the aircraft carrier Enterprise. Nimitz presented Miller with the Navy Cross, at the time the second-highest Navy award for gallantry during combat.

The citation reads as follows:

For distinguished devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and disregard for his own personal safety during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. While at the side of his Captain on the bridge, Miller, despite enemy strafing and bombing and in the face of a serious fire, assisted in moving his Captain, who had been mortally wounded, to a place of greater safety, and later manned and operated a machine gun directed at enemy Japanese attacking aircraft until ordered to leave the bridge.

Nimitz said of Miller’s commendation, “This marks the first time in this conflict that such high tribute has been made in the Pacific Fleet to a member of his race and I’m sure that the future will see others similarly honored for brave acts.”

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Miller speaking with sailors and a civilian at Naval Station Great Lakes, January 7, 1943.

Miller was promoted to Mess Attendant First Class on June 1, 1942. On June, 27, The Pittsburgh Courier called for Miller to be allowed to return home for a war bond tour like white heroes. On November 23, Miller returned to Pearl Harbor and was ordered on a war bond tour while still attached to the heavy cruiser Indianapolis. In December 1942 and January 1943, he gave talks in Oakland, California, in his hometown of Waco, Texas, in Dallas, and to the first graduating class of African-American sailors from Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Chicago.

In its February 6, 1943 issue, the Pittsburgh Courier continued to hammer to return Miller for a war bond tour. The caption to Miller′s photo in the article read, “He fought…Keeps Mop,” while another hero of the Pearl Harbor attack received an officer’s commission. It said that Miller was “too important waiting tables in the Pacific to return him,” even though in fact he was already on tour.

Miller reported for duty at Puget Sound Navy Yard on May 15, 1943. He was made a Petty Officer, Ship′s Cook Third Class, on June 1  when he reported to the escort carrier Liscome Bay.

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Dorie Miller memorial at the housing cooperative named for him in Corona, New York

After training in Hawaii, the Liscome Bay took part in the Battle of Makin Island beginning November 20, 1943. On November 24, the ship was struck in the stern by a torpedo from the Japanese submarine I-175. The aircraft bomb magazine detonated a few moments later, causing the ship to sink within minutes. There were 272 survivors from the crew of over 900, but Miller was not among them. Along with two-thirds of the crew, he was listed as “presumed dead.” On December 7, 1943 — two years after Miller’s heroic actions at Pearl Harbor — his parents were informed that their son was “missing in action.”

A memorial service was held on April 30, 1944, at the Waco, Texas, Second Baptist Church, sponsored by the Victory Club. On May 28, a granite marker was dedicated at Moore High School to honor Doris Miller. On November 25, Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal announced to the public that Miller was “presumed dead

George Welch – One of the Few Pilots That Fought Back During Pearl Harbor

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This is from War History OnLine.

How many more stories like this from the attack on Pearl Harbor that should be told?

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George Welch was a World War II flying ace, a Medal of Honor nominee, and an experimental aircraft pilot after the war. Welch is best known for being one of the few United States Army Air Corps fighter pilots able to get airborne to engage Japanese forces in the attack on Pearl Harbor and for his work as a test pilot.

After receiving his wings and commission in January 1941, Welch was posted to the 47th Pursuit Squadron, 15th Pursuit Group, at Wheeler Field, Oahu, Hawaii in February 1941.

At dawn on December 7, 1941, 2nd Lt. Welch and another pilot, 2nd Lt. Ken Taylor, were coming back from a Christmas dinner and dance party (with big band orchestra) at a rooftop hotel in Waikiki, that ended in an all-night poker game. They were still wearing mess dress when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Welch telephoned an auxiliary Haleiwa Fighter Strip on Oahu’s North Shore to have two Curtiss P-40B Tomahawk fighters prepared for takeoff. He and Taylor immediately drove his Buick at high speed to Haleiwa in order to join the air battle.

Taking off with only 30 cal ammo in the wing guns, Welch claimed two kills of Aichi D3A Val dive bombers over Ewa Mooring Mast Field. The first Japanese aircraft was only damaged and it made it back to its carrier while the second was finished off by Ken Taylor, shortly before he landed at Wheeler Field to get 50 cal ammo for his two cowl guns. On his second sortie, Welch shot down a Val (which was behind Ken Taylor) and the Val crashed in the community of Wahiawa, then Welch got one Mitsubishi Zero fighter about five miles west of Barbers Point.

Both Welch and Taylor were nominated for the Medal of Honor by Gen. Henry H. Arnold, but were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the highest USAAF medal, for their actions.

After Pearl Harbor, Welch returned to the continental U.S. to give war bond speeches until being assigned to the 36th Fighter Squadron of the 8th Fighter Group in New Guinea. Despite his aerial victories on December 7, 1941, Welch was dissatisfied with flying the poorly performing Bell P-39 Airacobra.

When asked by a journalist what aspect of the P-39 he liked, then seven-victory ace George Welch said, “Well, it’s got 12 hundred pounds of Allison armor plate.” This was a reference to the center mounted engine rather than actual armor plating. When Welch inquired as to when his squadron (the 36th FS) would receive P-38s, he was told, “When we run out of P-39s.” He repeatedly appealed to be assigned to the 80th Fighter Squadron (which flew the Lockheed P-38 Lightning) until he was granted a transfer.

Between June 21 and September 2, 1943, flying a P-38H, Welch shot down nine more Japanese aircraft: two Zeros, three Ki-61 Tonys, three Ki-43 Oscars and one Dinah. Welch flew three combat tours (a total of 348 combat missions with 16 confirmed victories, all achieved in multiples) before malaria retired him from the war. (via)

 

MIDWAY: PUNCHBACK IN THE PACIFIC

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This is from Warrior Scout.

The Battle Of Midway started on June 3,1942 and ended on June 6, 1942 the battle was they turning point of the Pacific War.

The Japanese  Imperial Navy was crippled beyond the point of recovery but there were many bloody land battles left to fight.

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A blow-by-blow breakdown of the Battle of Midway.

 

Four aircraft carriers of the Japanese Imperial Navy steamed eastward on the Pacific Ocean toward Midway Island. The squadron’s mission was to send the Americans to the bottom of the sea.

It was May 1942. America’s involvement in World War II had begun six months earlier, on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the Philippines. The day was a triumph for Japan, a disaster for the United States—except for one large fact: America’s Pacific aircraft carriers were not hit. They were at sea that morning. The U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet was still alive.

But Japan had momentum. Tokyo strategists believed that if they could grab Midway and sink the American carriers, their defensive perimeter would be virtually impregnable. The United States might then quit the war and give formal recognition to Emperor Hirohito’s dominion over East Asia. Japan would have all the oil, rubber, and food it needed. It would be a superpower, free to pick apart China at its leisure.

To advance its ambitions, Japan devised a plan centering on two slivers of land situated roughly at the midpoint between North America and Asia, about 1,300 miles west-northwest of Honolulu. Midway Island was a priceless military asset—a sentry for Pearl Harbor and a base for scout planes that roamed the ocean in search of threats.

The battle plan of Adm. Yamamoto Isoroku, the senior Japanese naval commander, called upon the power of the “Kido Butai” (translated as “strike force”). This consisted of his four finest aircraft carriers—the Akagi, Hiryu, Kaga, and Soryu—and warplanes, support ships, and superbly trained, dedicated men. The Kido Butai had excellent machinery, including the world’s best carrier-based fighter, the Zero; the world’s best torpedo plane, the B5N2 Type 97 “Kate”; and the world’s best torpedo, the new Type 91. Yamamoto and his associate, Adm. Nagumo Chuichi, intended to attack the Aleutian Islands, then descend on Midway, soften it with air attacks, and conquer it with an amphibious assault. This would draw U.S. carriers, planes, and Marines out of Pearl Harbor to take back the island. Lying in wait, the Japanese would then unleash submarines, battleships, and dive-bombers to destroy the Yankee flattops.

While Yamamoto formulated his plan in March 1942, a remarkable event occurred in a windowless basement room at Pearl Harbor. Lt. Cmdr. Joseph J. Rochefort and his intelligence-gathering team cracked the most important radio code of the Japanese Navy. They were now able to track the activities of far-flung enemy ships. In late May, they surmised that a large Japanese carrier force was headed to Midway for a June attack. Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, commander-in-chief of the Pacific Fleet, “took the risk of placing full trust in his code breakers,” writes historian William L. O’Neill, and conceived a bold plan. He ordered three carriers—the USS Enterprise, USS Hornet, and USS Yorktown—out of safe haven at Pearl Harbor and positioned them north-northeast of Midway to surprise the Japanese. The Americans would confront four enemy carriers with three flattops, and would also bring to the encounter the planes stationed at Midway—the island was, in effect, an unsinkable fourth carrier. And Nimitz had the element of surprise in his favor. He liked the odds very much.

The plan rolled out like clockwork:

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3, 1942

9:05 AM: “Sighted main body” is the electrifying radio message transmitted from a scouting U.S. seaplane 700 miles west of Midway by Ensign Jewell Reid and crew. They have spotted 11 Japanese warships headed eastward. At Pearl Harbor, Nimitz and his team conclude these vessels are not, in fact, the main Japanese body, but they recognize in these ships a confirmation of their central premise, that an enemy armada is heading for Midway.

2:15 PM: Nine Army B-17 bombers take off from Midway to strike at the warships spotted by Reid. They require four hours to find Japanese vessels. The ships they find are not Reid’s sightings, but rather another element of the Japanese force. The bombers attack from 10,000 feet with 600-pound explosives, but miss their targets.

NIGHT OF JUNE 3-4: Eve of the main day of battle. The Yorktown moves to its final waiting position about 200 miles north of Midway, near the Enterprise, Hornet, and support ships. The Japanese invaders believe the carriers are at Pearl Harbor. (The Japanese lack radar; the Americans have this equipment.)

THURSDAY, JUNE 4, 1942

4:30 AM: In the gray light before dawn, Japanese pilots fire up their aircraft engines and take off for Midway. The force includes torpedo planes and dive-bombers protected by Zero fighters equipped with 7.7mm machine guns and 20mm cannons.

5:34 AM: As the sun rises, a U.S. scout plane pinpoints the location of the Japanese carriers: 180 miles northwest of Midway. American planes based at the island are soon winging for the big enemy ships, including Army bombers (B-26 Marauders), Navy torpedo planes (Avengers), and Marine dive-bombers (primarily SBD Dauntlesses).

5:40 AM: A Japanese search plane soars past the American carriers north-northeast of Midway but doesn’t see them.

6:30 AM: Japanese planes that were launched at 4:30 arrive at Midway and hammer it. Marine gunnery downs a number of the attackers.

7:00 AM: U.S. planes launched from Midway at around 5:45 begin their attack on the enemy carriers, but they inflict virtually no damage and suffer heavy losses from Zeros and anti-aircraft fire.

7:00-8:00 AM: The Hornet and the Enterprise launch dozens of warplanes against the Japanese carriers. Many of these aircraft will not be able to find their targets. Others will arrive at their destination between 9:30 and 10:30; a handful of these will achieve stunning results.

8:00-8:35 AM: Fresh waves of American planes from Midway attack the enemy carriers. No U.S. bombs hit their targets, and once again, the Zeros have a field day.

8:20 AM: A Japanese search plane flying north of Midway spots one of the U.S. carriers.

8:30 AM: Japan’s Adm. Nagumo decides to hit the American flattop detected a few minutes earlier. He first needs to land the planes that attacked Midway (i.e., “recover” them).

8:55 AM: The Yorktown launches a strike against the enemy carriers. The planes will arrive at about 10:25.

9:17 AM: The Japanese carriers recover the last of the planes that attacked Midway.

9:30 AM: Fifteen U.S. torpedo bombers—Devastators—attack the enemy carriers. These aircraft were launched from the Hornet between 7 and 8 a.m. as part of the strike, but had become separated from the fighters that were to protect them. Zeros wipe them out. More Devastators follow a half-hour later; they also are shot down.


The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Phelps. Source: Official U.S. Navy photograph released.
9:50 AM: The Japanese destroyer Arashi concludes a tense two-hour duel with the American submarine Nautilus. The Arashi’s commander, pretty certain his depth charges have sunk the sub, races his craft north at 35 knots to catch up with the rest of the Kito Butai.

9:50-9:55 AM: Lt. Cmdr. C. Wade McClusky, naval aviator and squadron leader, searches for the Japanese carriers. He is leading 32 dive-bombers launched from the Enterprise between 7 and 8 a.m. He spots a lone ship steaming north at a high rate of speed. It’s generating a thick foamy wake—churning white water in a V shape. McClusky, guessing the wake is being created by a Japanese ship bound for the main body of the strike force, follows the big arrow with his fellow warriors. The ship is indeed Japanese—the Arashi, which was tangling a few minutes earlier with the Nautilus, and which is now headed exactly where McClusky thinks it’s headed. (The Nautilus, by the way, isn’t sunk.)

10:00 AM: Torpedo planes from the Enterprise reach the carriers. (This is not yet McClusky’s group.) They don’t score any hits and are summarily shot down. A few minutes later, torpedo bombers from the Yorktown arrive at the target. They, too, fail to successfully deliver any ordnance and are wiped out.

10:20 AM: The Empire of Japan has blunted the martial fury of the United States of America and is winning the Battle of Midway. The U.S. assault has numbered 94 aircraft but no American bomb or torpedo has touched a major enemy ship. Nagumo surely feels pleased with his prospects and makes final preparations to attack the carrier spotted two hours earlier, ordering the men on the carrier Kaga to dispatch planes from the hangar deck up to the flight deck. These craft are laden with fuel and torpedoes. Meanwhile, many Zeros in the vicinity are flying at a low altitude because of their preoccupation with the American torpedo planes. Similarly, anti-aircraft guns are oriented toward low-flying craft. Thus, the two primary defenses of the carriers are helpless against what’s coming from the sky.

10:22 AM: The McClusky squadron dives for the Kaga at a roaring 250 knots, its wings glinting in the sun, the hearts of its aviators pumping madly as the big carrier gets bigger and bigger. An American pilot watches the dive-bombers from some distance away and thinks, “A beautiful silver waterfall.”

10:22-10:27 AM: A 500-pound American bomb from McClusky’s group smashes into the Kaga. More bombs follow, including one that explodes on the crowded hangar deck, which becomes an inferno. At about the same time, several miles away, a plane from another Enterprise squadron hits the carrier Akagi with a single perfectly placed thousand-pound bomb. One bomb, in this case, is enough to kill the ship. Also during these minutes, 20 miles away, dive-bombers from the Yorktown lay three big explosives into the carrier Soryu.

10:30 AM: The Battle of Midway isn’t quite yet over, but three of the four carriers of the Kido Butai are on fire.

LATE MORNING OF JUNE 4: Nagumo resolves to continue the battle. This misguided decision has been much studied by historians. One theory holds that his stubbornness stems from a deep cultural value that grants nearly as much glory to valiant effort as to success. Before the day is over Japan will inflict heavy damage on the Yorktown (which will sink on June 7) (pictured below), but in turn, Nagumo suffers the loss of his fourth and last carrier, the Hiryu. In the evening of June 4, he orders the strike force to withdraw from the battle zone. The next day, the senior commander, Yamamoto, orders a general retreat westward.


The USS Yorktown is hit during the Battle of Midway. Source: U.S. National Archives.
EPILOGUE:

More than 3,000 Japanese died at the Battle of Midway, and about 350 Americans were killed. Japan lost four carriers and a heavy cruiser; a single U.S. carrier—the USS Yorktown—was sunk, along with one destroyer—the USS Hammann.

The Yorktown was discovered in 1998 resting upright on the sea floor more than three miles below the surface. It’s as fiercely beautiful today as it was 70 years ago. It will reside in the gloom for centuries to come, a brooding ghost from a great and terrible clash.

The Battle of Midway, and the Battle of Guadalcanal a few months later, decisively halted Japanese momentum in the struggle for ocean mastery. What if America had lost? What if Japan had sunk three carriers at Midway? Would President Roosevelt and Congress have thrown in the towel, perhaps retreating to a defensive posture around Hawaii? A few writers have speculated over the years about this possibility, but many scholars today, including Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully writing in 2005, believe the United States would not have quit under such circumstances. For one thing, the nation’s outrage against Japan over the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor ran very deep. There was a thirst for retribution.

Another aspect of the battle that’s debated is the steepness of the odds faced by the United States on those June days. In his 1967 book Incredible Victory, Walter Lord writes that the American triumph came in the face of “the greatest of odds,” that the U.S. had “no right” to win—implying, really, that American commanders gambled rashly by pulling their carriers out of safe haven. Lord’s words are inscribed in stone at the National World War II Memorial. In a similar vein to Lord, a major book on the battle published in 1982 is titled Miracle at Midway. However, one of the best contemporary scholars of the battle, historian Craig L. Symonds, wrote in 2011 that the outcome “was less incredible and less miraculous than it has often been portrayed.” Adm. Chester W. Nimitz did not believe in miracles. He believed in planning, guts, and adequate hardware.

 

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