Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Charles Gaddis IV, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Det. Northwest
BREMERTON, Wash. – Naval Base Kitsap (NBK) commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, June 6, at the Bremerton Waterfront Boardwalk.
The Battle of Midway is regarded as one of the Navy and the nation’s most historically significant naval victories. The battle occurred June 3-7, 1942, and changed the tide of the war in the Pacific and the course of world history.
“What is not as well known [as Pearl Harbor] is the decisive Battle of Midway and how those grueling days in June of 1942 changed the course of history,” said Capt. Alan Schrader, NBK commanding officer. “Today, we are here to commemorate the 75th anniversary of that critical military operation which is America’s most impressive naval victory ever, and some would say, the most significant naval victory in the history of the world.”
To remember and honor the sacrifices of those who fought in the war, a wreath laying ceremony and a flyover by the “Black Ravens” of Electronic Attack Squadron 135 (VAQ 135) stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island were conducted.
“I feel it’s a great honor to be part of the remembrance of one of the greatest battles in history,” said Boatswain Mate 2nd Class Jeffrey Cayce, from Wentzville, Missouri, assigned to NBK. “It’s a very important part of our history and the Battle of Midway helped shape the Navy to the fighting force we have become today.”
WWII veterans were acknowledged during the ceremony and had the honor of laying a wreath in the Bremerton Marina.
“It’s unbelievable to be here with all these Sailors and to see such a good show,” said Roy Ellefeson, WWII veteran.
The Battle of Midway was a successful counter-attack from the Battle at Pearl Harbor. During June of 1942, the Japanese were set to launch another major attack at a location they called “AF.” The Japanese felt they could take over this location, luring out the remaining U.S. naval forces and destroy them.
“Pacific Fleet Commander, Adm. Chester Nimitz, knew of the Japanese plan because of the diligence of code-breakers such as Cmdr. Joe Rochefort at Station HYPO in Hawaii,” said Schrader. “Rochefort’s team broke the Japanese code, not completely, but enough so that Admiral Nimitz knew critical details of the pending Japanese attack.”
The Battle of Midway has often been called “the turning point of the Pacific.” It was the United Nations’ first major naval victory against the Japanese, despite the Japanese having more forces and experience than its American counterpart.
“I tried to think of the good things [during the war] and let go of the bad, that’s how I got home,” said Ellefeson. “To see this ceremony is all surreal.”
As the ceremony concluded, Sailors met with the veterans to thank them and hear of their experiences.
“I think this was a great opportunity to bring everyone together, Sailors and the community to remember and recognize every person in our nation,” said NBK Command Master Chief James Willis. “One person did not win the war, it took all of us.”