USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Midway with a ceremony conducted early in the morning June 4, a fitting tribute given the ship's close ties to the battle.
The previous USS Enterprise, CV-6, and her air wing played a vital role in the pivotal World War II battle that took place June 4-7, 1942.
The Battle of Midway is widely regarded as the turning point of the war in the Pacific.
"On this day in 1942, the entire complexion of the war in the Pacific changed," said Capt. William C. Hamilton, Jr., Enterprise's commanding officer, as he addressed the current Enterprise crew during the ceremony. "Thanks in no small part to the efforts of those serving aboard Enterprise."
Along with Enterprise, aircraft carriers USS Hornet (CV 8) and USS Yorktown (CV 5), along with U.S. strike forces, defeated the Imperial Japanese navy carrier task force under the direction of commander in chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet, Adm. Yamamoto.
Japanese losses during the battle were staggering. The Japanese Navy lost all four of the large carriers that had attacked Pearl Harbor, a heavy cruiser, 248 carrier-based aircraft and over 3,000 lives, including 100 trained pilots who could not be replaced.
Enterprise and her air wing were credited with three of the four Japanese carriers sunk that day at Midway.
"We were not without losses of our own, however," said Rear Adm. Ted Carter, commander, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group. "Although Enterprise was not attacked during the battle, her air wing suffered the heaviest losses of any air wing at sea up to that point."
At the opening of the ceremony, Carter described the heroic roles of the Sailors and Marines who fought and died during the historic battle.
"This morning, we pause for a few moments to reflect on the battle itself, the role each member of the Enterprise Strike Group played, and the sacrifices Sailors and Marines just like you made on those early days of June 1942," Carter told the crew.
Hamilton, Commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, Capt. Jeffrey L. Trent and Capt. Joseph J. Leonard, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 2, also spoke about the roles Enterprise, the air wing and the destroyer strike group played during the battle.
"Knowing this is our legacy, it is an absolute honor and privilege to remember the heroes of the Battle of Midway aboard our nation's most historic and legendary aircraft carrier, a great warship with a longstanding bond with Destroyer Squadron Two," said Leonard.
The partnership between Enterprise and Destroyer Squadron 2 began at Midway 70 years ago and continues today.
As part of the commemoration, Enterprise's First Class Petty Officer Association, detailed by Command Master Chief Dwayne E. Huff, performed a wreath-laying ceremony on the fantail aboard the ship. The fallen Sailors and Marines were also honored with a 21-gun salute and the sounding of "Taps," played by Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Timothy Lumpkin.
"While we look back on the incredible achievements of Midway and reflect on what it took for those Sailors to win, we should also look forward with great confidence," said Carter. "Midway taught us that this strength is not built upon technology and training, but rather brave, passionate Sailors and Marines just like you."
Aircraft assigned to CVW-1 performed a missing-man flyover formation June 3 to commemorate the aviators who lost during the battle.
Throughout the course of the day Enterprise went on to announce a historical timeline recounting the events of the Battle of Midway over the ship's announcing system.
"You preserve and celebrate the rich history and tradition of Enterprise," said Carter. "It is our past that has brought us to today and our past that will continue to shape our future," said Carter.
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