On June 7, 2006, Shepard Smith of Fox News Network broadcast on his Sunday show that the Battle of Midway was the turning point of World War II. This was the first time to my knowledge that the National Press acknowledged that indeed the Battle of Midway was the turning point of World War II.
To those not in the know, the Japanese Navy had, in June 1942, a series of stunning successes since its attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Even in its confrontation with the U.S. Navy in the Battle of the Coral Sea, where the Japanese Navy lost its small carrier Shoho, the Americans lost the carrier USS Lexington. This loss left the United States with only three active carriers in the Pacific, one of them the damaged carrier USS Yorktown, for the upcoming Battle of Midway. With the Shokaku damaged and the Zuikaku losing a significant number of its flight crew,¹ Japan had only four of the six carriers that had attacked Pearl Harbor available for the up-coming battle that would change the course of World War II and the war in the Pacific.
To place this carrier analysis in its true perspective, one must also appreciate that the Japanese Navy also had medium-sized carriers Ryujo and Junyo and small carrier Hosho available for the engagement. These carriers brought Japan's total carrier strength to seven for the up-coming battle. On the other hand, the U.S. did not even have available the carrier USS Saratoga which was badly damaged in January 1942 by a Japanese submarine near Hawaii and was being repaired in Bremerton, Washington. However, the United States did have available the USS Wasp, Ranger and the small escort carrier Long Island in its European theater of combat.²
With these facts in mind one must realize that the Battle for the Atlantic was brewing in the summer of 1942. Stalingrad was under an intense attack by the German Army³ and the battle for North Africa was raging between the British and German armies. A significant shift in the balance of power between Japan and America in the Pacific would have had profound effects in the course of the war in Atlantic, in Europe and Northern Africa.
Had the three U.S. carriers in the Battle of Midway been destroyed by the Japanese Navy, Japan would have had a total of 9 aircraft to America's one in the Pacific: the Saratoga. It is most reasonable to conclude that the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor would have retreated to San Diego, California. This proposition would have placed in grave jeopardy President Roosevelt's Europe First Policy. The loss of Hawaii as a functional naval base by default and the threat to the California coast line to Japanese harassment in all probability would have necessitated the U.S. Navy to order the three remaining carriers in the Atlantic to the waters of the Pacific. This tactical change in U.S. carrier disposition would still leave Japan with a 9:4 ratio over the United States. Australia would have been cut off, Midway Island would be occupied by the Japanese Army, Japanese outer perimeter in the Pacific would be reinforced and Japan's Navy would now really be free to roam the Pacific with impunity.
Most important, the U.S. invasion of North Africa would never have occurred in November 1942. By extrapolation one can conclude the Normandy invasion would have been delayed; giving the Germans the vitally-needed time to develop their jet and nuclear capability. It is not out of the realm of possibility that indeed World War II may have been lost by the Allies or at the very least ended in an uncomfortable negotiated peace rather than the unconditional surrender that actually concluded the war's end. Yes! The Battle of Midway was the turning point of World War II.
¹Fuchida, Mitsuo, "Midway", U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland, 1951.
² Carrier War in the Pacific, Harper and Row, New York, 1966.
³ Lee, Bruce, "Marching Orders", Crown Publishers, New York, 1995.
In the June 2006 Proceedings of the Naval Institute, CDR Brian Fort, currently serving on the Joint Staff J7, wrote an article entitled "Midway Is our Trafalgar". In the article he correctly points out the lack of appreciation by the U.S. Navy and all Americans in giving the Battle of Midway its true due. Hopefully, the foregoing article will help in this regard.
He also states: "Were it not for the extraordinary efforts of the International Midway Memorial Foundation, (IMMF), the Naval Academy Class of 1942 and the Chicago Department of Aviation, it is unlikely any of these unassuming memorials would even exist".
In a recent speech, President Bush proclaimed at the White House by Executive Order that the northwest Hawaiian Islands be designated a Marine National Monument. In that same speech the following words were said: "In the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, we're also preserving an historic landmark of great importance. Near the northern edge of these islands lies Midway Island, the site of one of the most decisive battles in World War II. On this atoll, there's a memorial to the sacrifice and valor of those fought in the Pacific theater during World War II. This national monument will have a special access area around Midway Island. That's what we want. We want people to go and pay homage to those who sacrifice for our freedom".
Your president has spoken with Bob Folliard regarding the 2007 commemoration of the Battle of Midway. The Foundation is in the process of contacting and establishing communication with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Hawaii and the Department of Interior in Washington, D.C. I am in the process of outlining and detailing the events and schedules of the entire week. This outline will be published in the nest issue of the newsletter. ***All persons planning to attend must be members of the Foundation. This measure is being taken to facilitate the success of all the events in an orderly manner.***
Our restaurant "Penne Trattoria" opened on June 29th and thus far has been very successful. Of greater significance is that Chris and I celebrated our third happy year of our marriage on June 21, 2006. We sincerely look forward to seeing all of you that are coming to Hawaii and Midway in 2007. Support our troops and God bless America.