SAN DIEGO -- Active duty, retired servicemembers and civilians observed the heroism of World War II veterans at the 71st Anniversary Battle of Midway commemoration aboard the USS Midway Museum, June 1. The Battle of Midway took place June 4-7, 1942, where U.S. Navy carrier strike forces prevented the Japanese from capturing control of Midway Island in the Pacific. The victory proved to be a pivotal point of World War II and is an important marker in naval heritage. "History has shown that the Battle of Midway was absolutely the turning point in the war in the Pacific and probably the entire war of World War II," said Vice Adm. Thomas H. Copeman III, commander, Naval Surface Forces, commander Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. "It was the end of the Japanese offensive six months into the war." During the ceremony, 13 surviving veterans, along with family and friends of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the Battle of Midway, were honored by current military personnel and civilians, for their extraordinary service 71 years ago. "The event is to honor the veterans of Midway," said Copeman. "It's to make sure that the memory of the Battle of Midway and the heritage of what it stands for is not lost upon the younger generation of Sailors."
The commemoration included a special video presentation that was voiced by World War II veterans involved in the historic battle. "The video gives us an idea where our veterans are coming from," said Damage Controlman 1st Class Mike Minotti. "We got to see the veterans perspective of what happened, and it ties us closer to our heritage." The observance also included several speakers. Retired U.S. Marine Corps officer Lt. Col. Jerry Coleman, who also served during World War II, gave the keynote speech. "If every Sailor gets a chance to interact with these veterans, they need to," said Minotti. "It instills a sense of pride and makes the Sailor proud."