Sailors and Marines deployed aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) joined together on the mess decks for a ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, June 9.
During the historic June 4-7, 1942 battle, U.S. Navy carrier strike forces defeated an Imperial Japanese strike force, preventing them from capturing Midway Island and ultimately serving as the turning point of the war in the Pacific.
Makin Island’s commemoration ceremony included speeches from Col. Michael Hudson, commanding officer of the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit; Capt. Donald Cuddington, commander, Amphibious Squadron 5; and Capt. Cedric Pringle, USS Makin Island commanding officer.
Hudson said the U.S. usually goes into battle with equipment more superior than the enemy, but that was not the case at Midway. Many of the U.S. aircraft were older than the squadrons based on the carriers of the Japanese fleet.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of technology you climb into, whether it be an outdated fighter jet, as was the case at the Battle of Midway, or on the Navy’s newest amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island, what matters is the person to your left and to your right,” said Hudson.
Hudson also spoke on how the fighting spirit of the Navy and Marine Corps exhibited during the Battle of Midway later led to the U.S. victory in the Pacific, and how that fighting spirit still continues today. Cuddington focused his remarks on the superior intelligence of the U.S. forces during the war and how the U.S. broke the code of the Japanese navy to gain the tactical advantage.
“The key to Midway were cryptologists in Hawaii who had broken the Japanese code,” said Cuddington. “The U.S. intercepted Japanese codes and figured out their plans to attack Midway, allowing Adm. Chester Nimitz to devise a plan. He pulled the three carriers, USS Enterprise (CV 6,) USS Hornet (CV-8,) and USS Yorktown (CV 5,) out of Hawaii to prevent detection and moved his forces.”
During the battle, Japan lost four carriers, a heavy cruiser, three destroyers and 256 planes. The U.S. 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, and Japan was never able to recover from its losses.
Pringle spoke on how the Battle of Midway proved the importance of carrier-based naval aviation in our nation’s defense strategy.
“The Battle of Midway cemented the need for carrier aviation, showcasing carrier aviation’s ability to deliver credible combat power; an enduring value today,” said Pringle. “The decisive battle also made it clear that America must always maintain the ability to take the fight to the enemy.”
Sailors and Marines who attended the event said they enjoyed the opportunity to learn about naval history and remember those who fought in the historic battle.
“New Sailors may not even know what the Battle of Midway was, so it’s important to have ceremonies like this one to remember what happened on that day,” said Interior Communication Electrician 2nd Class Walter Seward.
Makin Island is the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the Navy expects over the course of the ship’s lifecycle, to see fuel savings of more than $250 million, proving the Navy’s commitment to energy awareness and conservation.
This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the secretary of the Navy’s energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.
Makin Island is the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group that is currently deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.
Naval Today Staff, June 11, 2012