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Battle of Midway was decisive action in WWII

June 2, 2014 at 1:02 a.m.


Editor, the Advocate:

It's that time again. We are coming up on one of the most important dates of World War II. No, not the Normandy invasion. In June 1942, the United States fought the decisive battle in the Pacific at a fly-spec atoll northwest of Hawaii called Midway. At the time, the outcome of the war with Japan was still in doubt.

The Japanese formulated a plan to lure the American aircraft carriers away from Pearl Harbor and destroy them in a single decisive action. Midway was the bait. The Japanese had overwhelming superiority over the Americans in every category of ships. There was one problem with that plan, though - the Americans had broken the Japanese code and knew what was coming. Oops.

On June 4, 1942, the four Japanese carriers of the advance fleet attacked Midway, but the Japanese raid commander told his admiral that another attack would be needed. The Japanese carriers had their remaining planes configured to attack the American fleet. While they were changing from torpedoes to bombs, the Americans found the Japanese fleet. Because the American Navy was new to the business of carrier warfare, their attacks weren't coordinated. The torpedo planes got to the Japanese carriers first and were without fighter escort. It was a slaughter. The Japanese combat air patrol came down from high altitude and shot down all the American torpedo planes. Their sacrifice was not in vain, however. The American dive bombers arrived overhead while the Japanese fighters were at sea level. Never before had American dive bombers been so accurate and never again would that accuracy be so important. All four Japanese carriers were destroyed along with their experienced aircrews, most of whom had been on the Pearl Harbor raid. The Americans lost one carrier, the USS Yorktown.

The Japanese never recovered from this defeat. Midway was the turning point of the Pacific war.

So, on June 6, we certainly should celebrate the memory of the Normandy invasion, but on June 4, we should remember the naval and Marine aviators whose sacrifices at Midway made victory in the Pacific certain. Thanks, guys. Well done.

Carl Bankston, Victoria

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