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NSA Bahrain Commemorates Battle of Midway 82nd Anniversary

06 June 2024

From MC1 Shayla D. Hamilton, NSA Bahrain Public Affairs

Sailors and Marines aboard Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain honored the 82nd anniversary of the Battle of Midway at a commemoration ceremony, June 5.

The ceremony included multiple presentations including a ceremonial wreath, historical slideshow highlighting pivotal moments of the battle, and a bell-ringing memorial, honoring the pilots of Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8) who fought and died during the battle.

“As we commemorate Midway, we consider its legacy and its continuing ability to inspire us, and we wonder if maybe one day, we ourselves will serve at a moment or place like it,” said Ensign Ezra Payton, master of ceremonies. “We all should wonder if we will ever serve in such an honorable way, that it leaves a mark that sears itself into the culture of generations of Sailors and their families to come. For now, we have Midway as our marker to serve a strong example of who we are and why we exist so that well into the future, Sailors will continue to stop each year, during the week of June 4th, and consider how naval legacies are made, and why they are timelessly cherished, generation after generation.”

During the ceremony, Brig. Gen. Matthew Reid, commanding general for Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade spoke about the contributions the Marine Corps made during the Battle of Midway.

“The island of Midway was garrisoned by a Marine Force to guard the air fields where the Japanese launched their initial attacks onto Midway Island to draw the U.S. aircraft carriers into battle,” said Reid, guest speaker for the event. “It was the Marine fortifications and Marine forces on Midway Island that took a heavy toll on the Japanese fighters and prolonged the actions of the Japanese admiral, giving the U.S. carriers more time to get into position. It was an integrated Navy and Marine Corps team in the Battle of Midway that eventually led to the ultimate victory.”

Reid spoke about the morning the attack on Midway Island occurred, recounting the actions of Adm. Chester Nimitz who maneuvered U.S. carriers to launch counter attacks onto the Japanese, and the critical role played by VT-8.

“The Japanese had flooded the air with Japanese fighters and then there was U.S. Torpedo Squadron 8, knowing their suicidal odds, they knew they were going to face devastating losses. He and his squadron pressed on with their attacks, drawing Japanese fighter cover to low altitudes. Tragically, all 15 planes of Torpedo Squadron 8 were shot down and only one man survived; a young ensign by the name of George Gay, survived. Their sacrifice was critical and it set the stage for the subsequent dive bomber attacks by the Navy onto the Japanese carriers.”

American forces managed to destroy four Japanese carriers, one cruiser, more than 300 aircraft and left more than 3,000 Japanese sailors dead or missing.

“Those were significant losses for the Japanese,” said Reid. “Those carriers could not be replaced. Taking out those four vessels crippled their Navy. For the United States, the eventual victory at midway was monumental. It halted the Japanese expansion, completely unraveling plans to target the western United States and it ultimately did lead to Japanese defeat. Of course there were a lot more fighting to go on the islands with the Army, the Marines, and the Air Force and more, but this battle absolutely set the stage and set the conditions for all of those future successes. As we reflect on the Battle of Midway, we not only honor the strategic brilliance of Nimitz and all of the Sailors who gave their lives that day, and the Marines who played that critical role on midway island, but we also remember the extraordinary valor of those like John Waldron and others who earned the Medal of Honor that day, whose heroic actions exemplified the high standards of bravery and sacrifice in our U.S. Navy. You wonder if 82 years ago those Sailors and Marines thought that we’d be talking about them today, and they probably would hope so, but would probably doubt it. To quote Admiral Nimitz, ‘they fought together as brothers in arms; they died together, and now they sleep side by side, and to them we have a solemn obligation,’ and may we always honor that obligation.”

NSA Bahrain’s mission is to support U.S. and coalition maritime operations throughout the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations by providing security for ships, aircraft and tenants on board NSA Bahrain and assigned detachments. NSA Bahrain provides efficient and effective shore services to sustain the fleet, enable the fighter and support the family with honor, courage and commitment.


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