There was great anticipation that the commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Midway in Hawaii and on Midway would be one of the finest ever, and it was! The commemorative events were supported by the White House, the Department of Interior, the Governor of Hawaii, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the USS Battleship Missouri Memorial, the Pacific Aviation Museum and especially Midway veterans. The Foundation also formed an association with Military Historic Tours for (MHT) for the events.
The week of commemorative events began with a cocktail party at the Halekulani Hotel on Wednesday, May 30, 2007, creating an environment for everyone to get to know each other and for questions and answers regarding the week's commemorative events. Cocktails, wine, and hors d'oeuvre were served to the delight of everyone.
On Thursday and Friday, May 31-June 2, 2007, the International Midway Memorial Foundation and I as the moderator, hosted a two day symposium encompassing the first six months of the World War II in the Pacific. The panelists included: Dr. Paul E. Tobin, USN, Director of the Naval Historical Center, Daniel A. Martinez, Chief Historian, USS Arizona Memorial, Alan S. Lloyd, Volunteer Historian, USS Missouri Memorial Association, Richard Rodby, and myself. The symposium was attended by members of the IMMF, Military Historic Tours participants and Admiral Ronald J. Hays, Chairman of the Board of the Directors of the Pacific Aviation Museum. The symposium received excellent reviews.
On Saturday, June 3, the IMMF hosted a 65th anniversary commemorative ceremony on board the USS Battleship Missouri. After the Colors were paraded, the invocation was given by LCDR David Stroud, CHC, USN, and I presented the opening statement. Remarks were then given by Dr. Gerhard Kuska, White House Representative; Rear Admiral William Van Meter Alford, Jr., U.S. Navy Representative; Brigadier General Jerry Hagen, USMC (Ret.), U.S. Marine Corps Representative; Daniel A. Martinez, National Park Service Representative and Barry Stieglitz U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Representative.
Historical Perspectives were given by Alan S. Lloyd, Volunteer Historian for the USS Battleship Missouri Memorial Association.
Ensign William A. Tunstall, USN, (VT-8) USS Hornet shared his memories of the Doolittle Raid and of the pilots of VT-8 on that fateful day—June 4, 1942.
Captain James A. Noone, USNR (Ret.), Vice Chairman of the IMMF, introduced the keynote speaker: Rear Admiral Paul E. Tobin, USN, Director of the Naval Historical Center. Dr. Tobin gave an excellent keynote address which was very much appreciated by all.
The assembly then moved toward the bow of this great battleship as the Midway Memorial Flag was carried by the Midway veterans aft. From there the flag was raised on the tallest mast of the USS Missouri, while taps was played by the Navy bugler.
Captain Noone and I then unveiled the newest painting of the Battle of Midway entitled "The Battle for Midway Atoll", rendered by Steve Dryden, a native of Britain. The painting was admired by all and prints will be made available to the public. See details later in this newsletter.
LCDR Stroud concluded the ceremony with the Benediction. All of the group then proceeded to the Pacific Aviation Museum for lunch and enjoyed this very well designed, beautiful museum. The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the museum is Admiral Ronald J. Hays, who supported all of the commemorative events of the week.
The highlight of the week came on the night of Sunday, June 3, 2007. On that evening the Annual Midway Night Dinner was held on Hau Terrace of the Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki, Hawaii. The event began with a Champagne reception after which the bagpiper led the official party to the Head Table. Included in the official party were: Dr. And Mrs. Gerhard Kuska, Associate Director, Council on Environmental Quality and White Representative; Timothy Keeney, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere; Admiral and Mrs. Robert F. Willard, USN, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet; Rear Admiral Paul E. Tobin, USN; Admiral and Mrs. Ronald J. Hays, USN (Ret.) Captain and Mrs. James M. D'Angelo, USAF.
The President of the Mess was Admiral Hays and Mr. Vice was Colonel Gene Castagnetti, USMC (Ret.). The remainder of the distinguished guests followed the Official Party into the dining room and stood at their places at their designated seating. The President of the Mess called the Dinner to order as the Colors were paraded. CDR Steven Unger, CHC, USN gave the Invocation after which the colors were retired. The Mess was then seated.
The President of the mess approved the fare and dinner was served. The meal consisted of a goat cheese and balsamic micro-greens salad, avocado napoleon with lump crab relish followed by a main course of filet mignon and Tristan lobster tail. The dinner ended with a delectable chocolate coconut shell filled with mango sorbet and a accompanying caramelized pineapple custard tart.
During the meal, Admiral Hays recognized other distinguished guests at the dinner including Midway veterans Rear Admiral John Besson, USN (Ret.) USS Pensacola,; Chief Petty Officer George Chockley, USN (Ret.), USS Enterprise; and Ensign William A. Tunstall, USN, USS Hornet. Other distinguished guests were Brigadier General Jerry Hagen, USMC (Ret.), Colonel Warren Weidhahn, USMC (Ret.), Military Historic Tours; Colonel Richard Camp, USMC (Ret.); Captain James A. Noone USNR (Ret.); Patrick Brent, USMC, Crewmember of the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center; Daniel A. Martinez and Richard Rodby, Active Member of the Board of Trustees of the IMMF.
Formal toasts were offered throughout the dinner to the Commander in Chief, the Military Services and to the Battle of Midway. A presentation of the new print of the painting entitled "The Battle for Midway Atoll" followed with each Midway veteran and other distinguished guests receiving one.
Remarks were made by your President, Timothy Keeney and Dr. Kuska who read a letter from President George Bush that was addressed to the Mess. Admiral Hays then introduced the keynote speaker: Admiral Robert F. Willard, USN, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Admiral Willard gave an outstanding speech that spoke to the moment. After the keynote address, Chaplain Steven Unger, USN gave the Benediction. The inspired and respectful dinner with appropriate moments of fun came to an end when Admiral Hays used his gavel to officially call the 2007 Annual Midway Night to closure.
On Monday, June 4, the IMMF group met at Honolulu Airport to board a 737 Continental aircraft bound for Midway Atoll. The plane landed at about noon and the ceremony hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and assisted by the U.S. Navy began shortly thereafter.
The ceremony was held in the area directly behind the air terminal with an audience of over 2000 persons strong. Many had come from a Princess Cruise Line ship that was anchored off-shore. The ceremony began with the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet Band playing a musical prelude. Presentation of the Colors followed. Chaplain Gene Theriot from Navy Region Hawaii then gave the Invocation and the Colors were retired.
Barry Christenson, Refuge Manager of Midway Atoll opened with welcoming remarks. I was the first guest speaker at the podium and presented prints of the painting "The Battle for Midway Atoll" to The Honorable B.J. Penn, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, The Honorable Linda Lingle, Governor of Hawaii and to The Honorable Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary of Interior. The title of my speech was "Voices of the Past". I later learned portions of my speech were published in the Navy Times.
Guest speakers were Admiral Robert F. Willard, USN, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet; The Honorable BJ Penn, The Honorable Linda Lingle and the Honorable Dirk Kempthorne who gave the keynote address followed me to the podium with excellent remarks.
A special wreath was dedicated on behalf of the battle of Midway. After Benediction was given, the U.S. Navy provided a rifle salute followed by "Taps" and closure.
After the ceremony, we all toured Sand Island, some of us opting for a swim in the beautiful blue green waters of the lagoon. Later we visited with the others as we waited for our return flight to Honolulu. The plane landed in Hawaii at about midnight and most of those leaving the plane were thinking of the weeks' events remembering those who changed the course of the war in the Pacific.
Special thanks to Lt. General Henry Stackpole, USMC (Ret.) for his devoted efforts to ensuring that the Midway Night Dinner was a success. General Stackpole is one of two members of the IMMF that shall represent the IMMF in Hawaii in my absence. Also, special thanks to Richard Robby for his continuing efforts in support of the Foundation. He is the second member of the IMMF who represents me in Hawaii in my absence.
Special Gratitude to the Following:
Rear Admiral John Benson, USN (Ret.)*
Patrick Brent, USMC
President George Bush
Colonel Gene Castagnetti, USMC (Ret.)
Chief Petty Officer George Chockley, USN (Ret.)*
Department of Interior
Brig. General Hagen, USMC (Ret.)
Admiral Ronald J. Hays, USN (Ret.)
Mr. Timothy Keeney
Dr. Gerhard Kuska
Governor Linda Lingle
Mr. Alan S. Lloyd
Admiral Robert F. Willard, USN
National Park Service
Captain James A. Noone, USNR (Ret.)
Pacific Aviation Museum
Rear Admiral Paul E. Tobin, USN
Mr. Richard Robby
Ensign William A. Tunstall, USN*
USS Battleship Missouri Memorial
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Marine Corps
Colonel Warren Weidhahn
The White House
Barry Stieglitz, Project Leader for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Hawaiian and Pacific Islands National Wildlife refuge Complex sent a letter of appreciation to the IMMF on June 13, 2007. Click here to see a copy of the letter. The Foundation will take this opportunity to thank Barry and to express that the IMMF looks forward to working with he and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the future.
Prints of the beautiful painting "The Battle for Midway Atoll" by British artist Steve Dryden are now available to the public. Click here to see the order form for further information. Some of the revenues received from the print will be allocated for the continuing production of the documentary film "Against All Odds".
Vice Admiral William D. Houser, USN (Ret.) became a member of the Board of Trustees in 1995. After a five-year hiatus, the Foundation has offered and Admiral Houser has accepted the invitation to return to the Board of the IMMF's Board of Trustees. He has been instrumental in ensuring the success of Foundation's goal of preserving the memory of the Battle of Midway including nationalizing the Annual Midway Night Dinner, preserving the Midway Night Dinner in Washington, D.C. and instituting the "Battle of Midway Essay Contest" at the U.S. Naval Academy. This special dinner honoring Admiral Houser will be held in the Washington, D.C. area this Fall. The date will be announced in the Fall newsletter. Donations to ensure the success of honoring Admiral Houser are welcome and checks can be made out to the IMMF and mailed to the address below. Thank you.
Personal Note: Chris and I extend our best wishes to all of the members of the Foundation, as we plan for future missions of the Foundation.