SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Active duty, retired service members and civilians paid honor to Battle of Midway veterans during a commemoration ceremony aboard the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, June 6, which marked the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Midway.
The Battle of Midway took place June 4-7, 1942. During the battle, U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier strike forces defeated an Imperial Japanese strike force that prevented them from capturing Midway Island.
The Battle of Midway is an important marker in naval heritage because it is considered to have changed the course of the war in the Pacific by putting the previously thought to be unstoppable Japanese forces on the defensive where they remained until their ultimate surrender, Sept. 2, 1945.
Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, Commander, Naval Air Forces, provided the opening remarks.
"Aircraft Carriers remain the critical centerpiece in our nation's defense," said Shoemaker. "Although I believe it's important for us to recognize and appreciate what these magnificent warships have done and can do from World War II to today, it's really the Sailors who man these ships and bring them to life".
During the ceremony military and civilian leaders honored the surviving veterans, along with family and friends of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, for their extraordinary service 73 years ago.
"It's the people we celebrate tonight, our former Sailors and service members, collectively they were the reason for our success at Midway," said Shoemaker.
While delivering the keynote address, Retired Vice Adm. Jim Zortman spoke of the importance of the victory at Midway and the importance of the aircraft carrier.
"The victory at Midway marked the high water mark and the end of Japanese expansion in the Pacific", said Zortman. "The aircraft carrier definitively took its place central to naval strategy and tactics. Today, 73 years later, that has not changed. U.S. Navy aircraft carriers remain essential to the projection of power and to keeping the peace."
Zortman spoke about the technological changes in today's carriers in comparison to the carriers of 1942. He highlighted USS Carl Vinson's recent return from a nearly 10-month deployment where Vinson participated in both combat and humanitarian operations but pointed out that it's the Sailors' camaraderie, sense of community and intrinsic spirit that make the U.S. Navy Sailor special and not the hardware.
"It's the spirit that brought victory at Midway and it's why Vinson could do what she does today."
Zortman thanked the surviving Midway veterans who were all seated in the front row.
"We wouldn't be here tonight if it wasn't for you and we should never forget that and we never will".
The ceremony closed with a playing of Echo Taps and a moment of silence.
For more information about the Battle of Midway, visit http://www.history.navy.mil/browse-by-topic/commemorations-toolkits/battle-of-midway.html