NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Members of the U.S. 2nd Fleet staff took time June 4 to reflect and celebrate a significant battle in the Navy's history - the Battle of Midway.
The ceremony featured 2nd Fleet special guests of honor, retired Master Chief Charles Meyer Jr. and his wife, Jan, along with guest speaker David McComb, president of the Destroyer History Foundation. Meyer served aboard the submarine tender USS Fulton (AS-11), which helped to rescue survivors of the Battle of Midway and return them to Pearl Harbor.
The battle took place June 4-7, 1942 and is considered to be the turning point of the war in the Pacific. With the help of American code breakers, a carrier strike force, augmented by shore-based patrol bombers, decisively defeated an Imperial Japanese Navy carrier task force.
McComb discussed the Navy's strategy with a visual presentation that showed how the country managed to defeat the powerful Imperial Japanese Navy.
"We were uncertain as to where the Japanese were aiming to strike after the Battle of Coral Sea," said McComb. "But thanks to code breakers, we discovered that their next target was going to be the island of Midway. Had we broken the code a day or two later, we wouldn't have been able to get in position in time for a counter-attack, and things would have been much different."
"Casualties were felt on both sides, but the Japanese lost four aircraft carriers and a cruiser as opposed to the sinking of one carrier and one destroyer," said McComb. "The Battle of Midway permanently damaged the Japanese Navy's striking power, and the loss of operational capability during this critical phase of the campaign ultimately proved decisive."
After McComb's presentation, the commander of U.S. 2nd Fleet, Vice Adm. Mel Williams Jr., provided the ceremony's closing remarks and participated in a gift exchange with the guest of honor and guest speaker.
"Commemoration events like this provide us with the opportunity to reaffirm our values and our ethos, helps us to better understand our history as it may portend our future challenges, and it is a way in which we may honor our heroes," said Williams.
The ceremony was also attended by Sailors from 2nd Fleet's subordinate commands.
The Navy's actions in the Pacific prevented Japanese forces from capturing Midway. This ceremony marks the 67th anniversary of the event which would later be known as the battle that changed the course of the war.
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