Battle of Midway’s Effects Still Felt Today

Story Number: NNS020606-07Release Date: 6/6/2002 12:37:00 PM
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By Journalist 1st Class Scott Boyle, USS Harry S. Truman Public Affairs

USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- It's a time-honored tradition in the United States Navy for today's Sailors to honor their heritage -- the Sailors that made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of America's freedom. Rarely though, is a Sailor as close to the subject as Lt. Cmdr. Lance Massey.

Massey, a maintenance officer on Precommissioning Unit Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), was a special guest aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) during a ceremony honoring the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Midway.

His grandfather, Lt. Cmdr. Lance Edward Massey, was the commanding officer of the famed Torpedo Squadron III, and led the attack on four Japanese aircraft carriers. Japanese aviators from the same carriers bombed Pearl Harbor just six months before the Battle of Midway. The squadron, launching off the American carrier USS Yorktown (CV 2), was almost completely wiped out but was still successful diverting the Japanese planes from the bulk of the American attack.

"To me, he is a hero," said Massey. "It is amazing to me how all the people involved were willing to make the choice to live or die in the name of the mission."

Massey followed his father and grandfather into the Navy. "I'm very proud to be part of three generations of Sailors, of that legacy of commitment."

During the ceremony, Massey and HST commanding officer, Capt. Michael Groothousen, laid a wreath over the side in tribute to his grandfather, and the 307 Sailors lost during the battle.

"It was very emotional [laying the wreath]," Massey said.

Massey, in his full dress white uniform, had a sword at his side during the ceremony. The sword, his grandfather's, was passed through his family over the years and eventually to Massey's side after his commissioning.

"I think it is very fitting that I have his sword for this ceremony," he said. "It is like he is here with us."

Amazingly, the sword almost never made it. Massey's grandfather left it home before his 1942 deployment. During the Battle of Midway's combative three days, the Yorktown was sent to the bottom of the Pacific. Under slightly different circumstances, the sword that Massey carries so proudly would have been there too.

The ceremony was the conclusion of a day full of honors for the Sailors lost in the Battle of Midway. The Truman crew also manned the rails of the ship for a flyover by five WWII-era aircraft.

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