Three-quarters of a century ago and half a world away, the U.S. Navy won a decisive battle against Japan at Midway atoll in the northern Pacific. On Monday, Naval Air Station Key West held a ceremony to remember the battle and its legacy for the Navy and the nation.
"This critical U.S. victory stopped the growth of Japan in the Pacific," said Command Master Chief Lee Friedlander. "It put the United States in the position to begin shrinking the Japanese Empire with a yearlong series of island-hopping invasions and several even larger naval battles."
Just six months after Pearl Harbor, the forces of the U.S. and Japan met near Midway June 4-7, 1942. American forces sank four Japanese aircraft carriers, while losing one of their own.
Cmdr. Greg Brotherton, executive officer of Naval Air Station Key West, said the legacy of the battle lives on both in the half-century of service of the aircraft carrier that was named for Midway, and in the importance of the Navy and naval aviation.
"A lot of the veterans that served in [World War II] are passing on," he said. "We've got to keep this alive and continue to pass it down, not only to the sailors but to everyone, of what America's about, what we can stand up and fight for."