Monday, June 04, 2007

Burry marks battle's anniversary at NWS Earle

June 4, 2007

Freeholder Burry, Navy mark the Battle of Midway

COLTS NECK – Monmouth County Freeholder Lillian G. Burry and representatives from Naval Weapons Station Earle marked the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Midway today with an overview of the famous World War II battle and the placing of a wreath.

The battle, fought June 4 through June 7, 1942 near the central Pacific island of Midway, is considered the most decisive single naval battle in U.S. history. It signaled a turning point in the war in the Pacific and helped shape the future of Europe as well. Before this, the Japanese were on the offensive, capturing territory throughout Asia and the Pacific.

The Japanese had planned to capture Midway to use as an advance base, as well as to entrap and destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Because of communication intelligence successes, the U.S. Pacific Fleet surprised the Japanese forces, sinking the four Japanese carriers that had attacked Pearl Harbor only six months before. After Midway, the Americans and their Allies took the offensive in the Pacific.

“The Battle of Midway was the turning point of World War II and the victory signaled the beginning of the end for the Imperial Japanese Navy,” Freeholder Burry said. “We can never forget the ultimate sacrifices that were made by our U.S. Navy seamen and U.S. Marines.”

Following welcoming remarks by Lt. Cmdr. E.M. Prezioso, Master Chief Joseph Eppolito and Cmdr. Richard Valentine presented an overview and interpretation of this important battle.

The Japanese were shaken by an April 1942 air raid led by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, in which targets in Tokyo, Yokosuka and a score of other towns were hit. A battle scheme was drawn up by the Japanese to attack the U.S. Pacific Fleet in the waters around Midway in order to move the line of battle away from Japan. However, earlier that year, Americans had broken the Japanese naval code and had been able read at least 10 percent of the Japanese Navy’s radio transmissions.

“The Battle of Midway changed the world forever,” Eppolito said. “The balance of sea power shifted from the Japanese to the United States and set the table for our later successes.”

Valentine said that it was because of Midway that the United States did not have to fight the enemy on its own soil, because the Japanese never got that far. “England had its Battle of London,” he said. “The only reason we didn’t have a Battle of America is because there was a Battle of Midway. The Japanese turned back and their opportunity was lost forever.”

Japan’s loss of four out of its six fleet carriers, plus a large number of their highly trained aircrews, stopped the expansion of the Japanese Empire in the Pacific.

“The Battle of Midway enabled the U.S. Navy to go on the offensive, which is why this battle was so important,” Freeholder Burry said. “Thanks to American signals intelligence, judicious aircraft carrier tactics and some luck, the U.S. Navy inflicted a devastating defeat on the Japanese.”

The wreath-placing ceremony led by Valentine with assistance from Freeholder Burry.

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