Naval District Washington commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Midway with a wreath-laying ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial in downtown Washington, June 4.
The Battle of Midway took place from June 4-8 1942, and is noted as being the first real turning point in the war, and the first decisive victory by the United States in the war with Japan.
The Imperial Japanese navy (IJN) had already made broad strokes in the Pacific, beginning with the attack on Pearl Harbor, the invasion of the Philippines, Malaya and Singapore, the Battle of Wake Island and recently a tactical victory at Coral Sea.
However, with a sweeping victory at Midway, Allied forces had sunk four Japanese aircraft carriers and were primed for the counter-offensive that would win the Pacific War.
Highlights of the ceremony included music throughout the service provided by the United States Navy Band, and a wreath-laying to join the dozens of others taking place throughout the Navy to remember the battle. The commemoration featured speakers such as Director, Marine Corps Staff Lt. Gen. Willie J. Williams, U.S. Coast Guard Deputy Commandant for Mission Support Vice Adm. Manson K. Brown, and Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Johnathan Greenert providing remarks.
"I'd like to say thank you to the many veterans who served, not only in World War II, but in Midway," said Greenert. "It's because of you that we exist today as the greatest Navy in the world. I'd also like to thank our Sailors who are out there getting the job done, day in and day out."
The event was concluded with a reading of the Midway Proclamation, authored by the CNO, which was subsequently distributed to the Midway veterans. The proclamation thanked the veterans for their distinguished service, remarking that "we recognize the need to carry forward the legacy of the many heroes of the Battle of Midway who have spoken to our Sailors and to the public about their contributions to the Navy and our nation."
The recognition of the Midway veterans was assuredly a highlight of the commemoration, yet the veterans themselves appreciated the effort put forth in recognizing them and the importance to remember the events that had occurred.
"I thought it was great; very heartwarming and emotional," said retired Gunner's Mate 1st Class Hank Kudzik. "Men died back then, and we had to commit their souls to the sea. It brings back memories all the time, but I am fortunate to be here."
"Veteran Howard Snell, a retired sonar technician, appreciated the Navy Band's performance and the showmanship of the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard."
"If you don't get goose pimples hearing the music and seeing them walking around out there then you aren't a good-old citizen of this great nation of ours," said Snell.
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