OCEANA, Va. (NNS) -- U.S. Fleet Forces Command and Naval Air Force Atlantic hosted a commemoration of the Battle of Midway at Naval Air Station, Oceana, Va., June 4.
The commemoration honored the 69th anniversary of one of the most significant battles in the history of the U.S. Navy, and recognized how their efforts contributed to the Centennial of Naval Aviation.
The dinner event included welcoming remarks from Rear Adm. Ted Branch, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic, a reception, multiple fly-bys featuring current Naval Aircraft, and a tactical aircraft flight demonstration featuring an F/A-18 Super Hornet. Four F/A-18 Super Hornets performed a Missing Man formation flyover in honor of those lost in the battle.
"I am honored to be here in this room," said Branch. "There are great service men and women, naval aviators, air crews, maintainers, officer and enlisted that run the gamut of our service. We're celebrating their heritage and we stand on their shoulders every day and follow the path they set for us. It's just an honor to be here."
The Battle of Midway is considered to be the turning point of the war in the Pacific during World War II and took place from June 4-7, 1942. Each year, the Navy remembers those who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the battle with commemorations throughout the Fleet.
This year's Oceana commemoration had two Midway survivors in attendance: Howard Snell, who served aboard USS Enterprise (CV 6) and William Eckel, who, at the age of 18, served aboard the heavy cruiser USS New Orleans (CA 32) during the Battle of Midway, and is also a Pearl Harbor survivor.
"Having the Battle of Midway survivors, themselves, here at this event - this commemoration - is a rare honor, and one that is becoming more and more rare," said Branch.
Eckel said he was thrilled and excited - and grateful - to participate in the commemoration.
"I'm just very pleased that I can participate in something like this [commemoration]. Thanks to the United States Navy for inviting me to come up here all the way from Texas," Eckel said.
Retired Adm. Timothy Keating, former Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, was the guest speaker for the dinner. Keating, who retired in 2009 after 38 years of Naval Service, spoke about the significance of service in the military, and participation in events such as the Battle of Midway.
"Their memories are of great value to us," said Keating of veterans. "Their service is of great significance. The light of recognition burns the brightest where it matters the most."
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