Veterans

June 7, 2013

Gathering celebrates veterans, history of Battle of Midway

PO1 Tim Comerford
Navy News Service

Active duty, reserve and retired Sailors and Marines gathered to celebrate the 71st Anniversary of World War II’s tide-turning Battle of Midway, during a dinner at the Army Navy Country Club in Washington, D.C., June 4.

The ceremony hosted seven veterans of the battle and featured remarks from former Undersecretary of the Navy Robert O. Work.

The Battle of Midway, fought near the Central Pacific island of Midway, is considered the decisive battle of the war in the Pacific. Because of communication intelligence successes, the U.S. Pacific Fleet surprised the Japanese forces, sinking the four Japanese aircraft carriers, which had attacked Pearl Harbor only six months before, while only losing one aircraft carrier. After Midway, the Americans and their Allies took the offensive in the Pacific.

Midway veterans in attendance included Capt. Jack Crawford, Chief Steward Andrew Mills and Lt. Cmdr. Bill Roy (stationed aboard aircraft carrier USS Yorktown), Marine Corps Maj. Albert Grasselli, (air support for Midway Island), Chief Gunner’s Mate Henry Kudzick (from the submarine USS Nautilus), Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Miller (from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet) and Sonar Technician Chief Howard Snell (from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise).

“Tonight we celebrate the heroic and even epic efforts of the Navy, Marine Corps team in their greatest ever victory at sea, the Battle of Midway” said Work. “During my time as undersecretary I had reason to think a lot about the Battle of Midway, because it was a victory that occurred only seven months into a war that was fought after a prolonged period of peace. I think that victory was even more impressive because it occurred on the heels of a stunning surprise attack at Pearl Harbor, which literally rocked the Navy, Marine Corps team, and the entire nation, back on its heels. So this was fought by professional officers and Sailors who had known only peace in their long careers.”

Director of Naval Staff Vice Adm. Richard Hunt was pleased to meet the Battle of Midway veterans and he told them so, before introducing the former undersecretary.

“I am glad to have each and every one of you with us tonight,” said Hunt. “It means so much to us and really means a lot to our Sailors. The biggest thing, I think, is seeing our vets, the folks that sacrificed so much in World War II and the other engagements that followed. You are the leaders that set the stage for those of us who serve today.”

According to Work, the U.S. had not fought a war in more than 24 years and had not fought a major naval battle in 44 years.

“[The] Navy and Marine Corps team were ready when called upon, even in the direst of circumstances,” Work said.

As undersecretary, Work was responsible for training and equipping the Navy and Marines, which led to his question. “How did the Sailors, like the seven heroes who are here with us tonight, do it?”

Work asked the audience if they thought the victory at Midway was luck or skill. He pointed out that the assembly point for the Sailors and Marines was named “Point Luck.” But, he did not think luck played a large role. In his research into the speech, he came across a quote from Major League Baseball executive Branch Rickey from early 1900s, which he thought explained it well.

“Branch Rickey said, ‘Luck is the residue of design,’” Work said. “In the Branch Rickey school of luck, the people we call lucky are simply those are better able to recognize and take advantage of circumstances because they have a preplanned design or plan.”

He recognized that chance did play a part in the battle, but not its outcome.

“If luck had any overriding influence on the final outcome of the Battle of Midway, it was primarily because of the residue of a coherent design and plans that were developed over decades of peace.”

Work said that the teachings of the Naval War College were at the forefront of developing those plans, through their wargames. The wargames, incorporated into the college after WWI, allowed officers to study the development new technologies and ideas and their effects on battles. More importantly it allowed them to question the Navy’s strategy and tactics.

“The wargames became a time to test new warfighting and organizational concepts on the floor, and the fleet exercises that followed them tested out the most promising of these concepts,” Work said. “It created a nimbleness of mind in the entire officer corps of the Navy and a willingness to make changes.”

It was this nimbleness of mind and the drive of Sailors he believes that was the real “luck” that helped the United States take the offense during Midway.

“If the sailors and Marines of that time were trying to send all of us who followed a message, it was that there was nothing lucky about “Point Luck” at all. It was simply a point on a map and the product of a battle plan that was two decades of strategic thought and technical innovation by a professional officer corps supported by great Sailors.”

The dinner also hosted Cmdr. Everett Alvarez, Jr., one of the first pilots shot down over Vietnam, who endured one of the longest periods as a prisoner of war in American history, more than eight years. This year, 2013, marks the 40th anniversary of his and 661 prisoners of war return with honor.

The Naval Historical Foundation, one of nine sponsors of the event, was pleased at the turnout and the excitement for history generated by the veterans and the former undersecretary.

“This dinner provided a great opportunity, as Under Secretary Work described, to recount how the Navy used its wargaming, fleet training, technology and individual initiative to win the pivotal Battle of Midway,” said Naval Historical Foundation Executive Director, Capt. Charles (Todd) Creekman (ret.). “We at the Naval Historical Foundation, along with our partner naval heritage nonprofits, are proud to have sponsored this dinner for the past decade and into the future.”

The Battle of Midway Dinner was part of the U.S. Navy’s commemoration of the Battle of Midway. An annual event, the commemoration is an opportunity for Sailors, past and present, to pause and reflect on the historic significance of the battle and how is continues to shape our Navy today.
For more information about the Battle of Midway visit http://www.history.navy.mil/Midway/midwaybattle-index.htm.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines September 19, 2014

News: McKeon on broader military authorization: Anything can ‘fail or pass’ - Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said if Congress returns after the midterm elections to weigh a broader military authorization for the battle against Islamic State, it might not pass. Defense contractor gets 7 years for giving secrets...
 
 

News Briefs September 19, 2014

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,203 As of Sept. 16, 2014, at least 2,203 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,823 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result...
 
 

Pratt & Whitney, U.S. Air Force complete qualification for F135 engine testing

Pratt & Whitney, a United Technologies Corp. , together with its U.S. Air Force partner at the F135 Heavy Maintenance Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., celebrated another significant milestone qualification for F135 engine testing at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex. OC-ALC which in addition to engine testing is also qualified to perform...
 

 
Navy photograph

Triton has first cross-country flight from Palmdale

Northrop Grumman photograph The MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System takes off from Northrop Grummanís Palmdale, Calif., facility Sept. 17 for its first cross-country flight to Naval Air Station Patuxent, River, Md. PALMDALE,...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Michael J. Pausic

Future of NATO: Adapting to a new security environment

Air Force photograph by Michael J. Pausic Gen. Phillip Breedlove informs the assembled crowd about the results of the recent NATO Summit and the areas of instability that affect Europe that have regional implications. Seated in...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash

AFRL commander describes Air Force’s technology vision

Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash Maj. Gen. Thomas Masiello takes a question from an audience member after discussing Air Force Research Laboratory breakthrough technologies during the 2014 Air Force Association’s Air ...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>