By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christian B. Martinez
Sailors assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) joined fellow Sailors and retirees in honoring the 71st Annual Commemoration of the Battle of Midway at Naval Base Kitsap, June 7.
The battle occurred June 4-7, 1942, and was a major turning point in the war against Japan, resulting in the sinking of four Japanese aircraft carriers.
“Today we honor the American Naval heroes at Midway 71 years ago,” said Capt. Pete Dawson, commanding officer of Naval Base Kitsap. “At that battle, they were outnumbered. They had, at best, a meager chance of success. But as they did repeatedly during World War II, the greatest generation pulled it off.”
The ceremony featured two surviving World War II Navy veterans, Carl Moff of Poulsbo and Eric Kegley of Silverdale.
“It’s great to have our senior veterans here for this event,” said Dawson. “We are honored by your presence and, of course, to all veterans in both World War II and the conflicts that followed. The nation owes you a huge debt.”
Capt. Ron Reis, Stennis’ commanding officer, spoke about the historical significance of the battle.
“In hopes of luring the Americans into a decisive battle, the powerful Japanese fleet, led by its commander in chief, Admiral Yamamoto, steamed toward Midway,” said Reis. “U.S. Navy Admiral Chester Nimitz, who knew of the Japanese plan thanks to the diligent efforts of his code breakers, took a calculated risk. By reinforcing Midway with land-based strike aircraft, he could position his remaining carriers to spring a trap and (defeat the enemy) carriers once and for all.”
The ceremony concluded with a gun salute and the playing of taps after Dawson, Reis, Moff and Kegley laid a wreath on the waters of the Sinclair Inlet.
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