Rear Admiral James "Bud" Nance, USN was one of a few that placed his deep convictions above politics. He served under Admirals William Halsey, Marc Mitscher and John S. McCain in the war in the Pacific. He was Senator Jesse Helms' Chief of Staff and a significant reason why legislation was passed to designate Midway Atoll a National Memorial. He now resides with his "Band of Brothers" in heaven. On October 9, 1996 he wrote a letter expressing his concerns about the fate of Midway Atoll:
"...On my way home from the ceremony at the Naval Academy, I steamed inside as I thought of the Fish and Wildlife Service making decisions about whether Midway should be a National Historical Landmark. I could not understand why should they make such a decision, but I was determined to keep quiet and let the system move — that is until today."
"Today, I received a letter from the Acting Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service sent to Senator Helms. In this letter, he told Senator Helms he would 'confirm discussions with your staff and other interested parties regarding our commitment for the historic aspects of Midway Island National Wildlife refuge.'"
He also stated he would create an advisory committee "...to advise us on the historic importance of the Battle of Midway and its proper interpretation to vistors. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE WHO NEED A COMMISSION TO ADVISE THEM ON THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY? WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE WHO THINK THEY SHOULD EVEN BE INVOLVED IN SUCH DECISIONS? When I think of the gaul of such an assertion, I boil. I don't care what the Fish and Wildlife Service does, thinks or says. I have directed this staff to develop legislation for Senator Helms to introduce in Janaury that will relieve the Fish and Wild Life Service of the responsibility of appointing a commission to evaluate Midway. I hope to have the maximum number of co-sponsors on this legislation, There is absolutely no reason we should go through all of this to pay tribute to those who gave so much in the aggressive war that the Japanese waged agaist our country."
WHERE ARE SUCH MEN TODAY?
On May 26, 2005 in Room 1324 of the Longworth Building, the Chairman of the Subcomittee on Fisheries and Oceans, Congressman Wayne T. Gilchrest received oral and written documentary evidence that the USFWS had thwarted the intent of Congress and President William Clinton that Midway Atoll be established as a National Memorial with a plan for historic preservation and public access.
The hearing was preceded by words of strong support by Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr. (TN) for the IMMF President and his mission to replace the FWS' jurisdiction over Midway with another federal agency within the Department of Interior.
The hearing began with the testimony of Dr. William S. Dudley, former Director of the Naval Historical Center. His eloquent and authoritative historical testimony set the stage for my testimony, which made a compelling and unrelenting case by documenting the long-standing indifference of the entire FWS toward the significance of the Battle of Midway and the men who fought and died there. (A copy of the full testimony is available here.)
The hearing continued with testimony from Bradley A. Farrell, legal counsel for the ham operators in the United States. He provided evidence for the a lack of public access to islands in the Caribbean, heretofore accessible, until the islands were designated wildlife refuges.
The next group to give testimony was the Eastern U.S. Free Flight Conference headed by Robert Langelius. In this case, when the area where the group flew its model airplanes for 28 years was designated a wildlife refuge (after they had treated it as such anyway), the group was banished from the grounds forever without any consultation or discussion by the USFWS.
The last part of the hearing was testimony from the Chief of the Wildlfie Refuges, William Hartwig. His testimony revealed little new information for the hearing's purpose of resolving the issue of public access to Wildlife refuges.
The hearing closed with a promise from Subcommittee Chairman Congressman Wayne Gilchrest that he takes the issue of public access to wildlife refuges very seriously and more questions regarding this matter would follow.
On July 8, 2005, I contacted Edith Thompson, Legislative Assistant to Congressman Gilchrest for an appointment with the Congressman; instead, she suggested an appointment with herself, saying it would be unlikely the IMMF would have one with the Congressman because of his busy schedule.
She went on to say that there was no reason why the Midway Atoll should not be returned to a pristine state, in spite of the fact that the Midway Atoll is designated a National Memorial. PUBLIC ACCESS basically was subjugated to the needs of the Wildlife Refuge.
The Subcommittee is still reviewing the testimony and questions have been sent to the USFWS which have not been answered yet. The IMMF has not received any followup questions, nor was there any indication that any would follow.
On May 24, Al Shannon (who spent 26 years in the Navy and Air Force) and myself met with Congressman Greg Walden, Member of the Committee on Resouces to discuss the lack of public access to Midway Atoll. The Congressman promised he would do what he could to ensure public access to Midway.
In May 2005, your President and Vice Chairman, Captain James A. Noone, USNR (Ret.), Esq. met Senator Lugar's Chief of Staff, Martin W. Morrisa and staff member Kerry A. Williams to discuss the lack of recognition by the USFWS that Midway is a National Memorial and that public access to Midway Atoll is presently being denied. Legislation to remedy this injustice is fully and srongly supported by Senator Richard G. Lugar (IN), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A draft bill has been approved by the Legislative Director of Senator Lugar's staff. The IMMF is now in the process of obtaining other Congressional support for this proposed bill.
Mr. Ellis Mottur, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce under President Clinton, has taken an active interest in passing the necessary legislation to ensure: 1) that the designation of the Midway Atoll as a National Memorial is respected and honored; 2) that public access is returned to Midway; 3) that the airport on Midway remains open as an alternate landing site for two-engine aircraft flying across the northern Pacific and 4) that the U.S. Coast Guard continues to use Midway for its search and rescue missions. With the support of the IMMF, Mr. Mottur will elicit the support of Senator Hilary Clinton for co-sponsorship of Senator Lugar's bill.
In June 2005, Captain Noone and I met with Bradley A. Farrell, legal counsel for the ham operators in the United States. The lack of public access to islands in the Carribean and to the Midway Islands were discussed. Groundwork was laid for a cooperative effort by both organizations to restore public access to the aforementioned islands. Mr. Farrell would discuss the conclusions of the meeting to his organization and report back to the IMMF.
Another meeting held in June was between David Fischer, a representative for the ABC, myself and Captain James Noone.
The meeting was very productive and ideas of mutual interest were discussed including public access to Midway and the Foundation's strong interest in removing the lead paint on the buildings at Midway. I pointed out that any sucessful solution for Midway's problems hinge on public access to Midway. Unfortunately, after continuing negotiations by e-mail, the governing board of the ABC could not support the bill as proposed by Senator Lugar and the IMMF in our efforts to return public access to Midway.
On Friday May 20, 2005, the IMMF met in Captain Noone's legal office with a representative of the USFWS. Barry W. Stieglitz, Project Leader of the Hawaiaan and Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, had requested an opportunity to discuss Midway.
The meeting was very cordial but at its end, it was still the position of the USFWS that the Wildlife Refuge on Midway Atoll has total and complete priority over the Midway National Memorial.
In 2000 the College of Mathematics and Science and the College of Extended Learning at California State University, Northridge signed a memorandum of understanding with Midway Phoenix Corporation (MPC) to encourage and enhance educational opportunities for academic communities to study and preserve the biologic and historical features at Midway that were funded by the National Science Foundation under its Chautauqua programs. Over 40 institutions of higher learning had participated in this endeavor resulting in a better understanding of ocean environment as it impacts on wildlife. When the MPC was asked to leave the Midway Atoll by the USFWS, this program came to an abrupt end. There was no real attempt by the USFWS to resolve the departure of MPC. With this background in mind, Dr. Hansen is planning to form an organization to support the Foundation's proposed bill in Congress.
Robert Langelius was contacted by me regarding support by his organization for the draft bill in Senator Richard Lugar's office concerning the Midway Islands. Mr. Langelius is planning to discuss this issue with his organization and is in the process of bringing this issue to the attention of his local Congresswoman.
On June 4, 2005, Rear Admiral Jan C. Gaudio, USN, Commandant, Naval District Washington held a Battle of Midway ceremony at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. The ceremony was highly successful and included active duty military from the United States and our Allies as well as the retired military from this country. The keynote speaker was Admiral Robert F. Willard, USN, Vice Chief of Naval Operations. Prior to his keynote address, he publicly thanked the International Midway Memorial Foundation and its President for its efforts in encouraging Congress to designate the Midway Atoll as a National Memorial.
The IMMF has a meeting with Admiral Williard at the Pentagon on July 15, 2005 regarding the Midway National Memorial.
Dr. Craig L. Symonds, Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy has been teaching Naval and Civil War history for more than 30 years at the Academy. The book "Decision at Sea: Five Naval Battles That Shaped American History" is available at most books stores and on line. The publisher is Oxford University Press and the ISBN number is: 0-19-517145-4. The IMMF is also adding the book to its web page of recommended reading on the Battle of Midway at WWW.IMMF-MIDWAY.COM. The Battle of Midway is included as one of the five sea battles that changed the course of American history.
The IMMF sent letters to Admiral Walter F. Doran, USN, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Secretary of Interior, the Honorable Gale A. Norton informing them of the Foundation's plans to hold a week long series of commemorative events in remembrance of the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Midway in Hawaii and on Midway Atoll. We await their responses.
Dr. William Dudley and I will meet for lunch to begin a concerted effort in the writing of the new book on Midway entitled "The Battle of Midway: An Historical Perspective." At this time Dr. Dudley will be reveiwing my manuscript as it is written. Later, he may become a co-author.
Lt. Jeremy Schaub contacted me by phone and we met in Chevy Chase, Maryland. At that time, I provided the lieutenant with a bullet casing from Midway, programs of previous IMMF's Midway Night Dinners and a VHS recording the Foundation promotional documentary film entitled "Against All Odds". The Foundation is honored for this opportunity to assist the active duty U.S.Navy.
Effective September 1, 2005, Chris and I will be retiring from the practice of Medicine. After 35 years in Hematology and Oncology, I have decided the time has come for me to leave a profession I have always loved and dedicated myself to as has Chris (but she for much less than 35 years!!!).
There are new horizons as we are opening a new Italian Restaurant in Bradenton, Florida called "PENNE TRATTORIA D'ANGELO" (penne being a type of pasta). Both of us are excellent cooks (or at least THINK we are :) ) and we look forward to this opportunity to bring good Italian food to the Bradenton area.
We will be moving to Florida in the Fall and the IMMF headquarters will follow. The new address for the IMMF will be available in the FALL issue of the newsletter. When necessary, I will travel to Washington, D.C. to further the cause of the IMMF and gain details for the new book.
The best to you all and we will continue the fight to gain public access to Midway and gain the recognition that the Battle of Midway deserves.