Let's be fair!! The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) of their own admission never wanted the Midway Atoll designated a National Memorial. It is no small wonder that their interest in this National Memorial is tepid at best. We live in a culture today that so often ignores, bends and denies the law. Why should USFWS respect legislation passed by Congress when society itself habitually excuses such transgressions and those who perpetrate them as a manner of course?
Let's be fair!! USFWS has a limited budget for Midway Atoll. The agency is saving money by discontinuing the termite insectide program that preserves the historic structures on the Atoll. Let us not also forget that the mission of this agency is to protect fish and wildlife and not the history of a battle that turned the tide of World War II in the Pacific. The remembrance of the American blood that was shed at Midway on June 4, 1942, has been subordinated to the interests of fish and wildlife, as our culture so dictates today. It is not their obligation nor their responsibility to honor, respect and preserve the events of a day that is fast becoming a faded memory.
Let's be fair!! USWFS has repeatedly rejected offers from the Midway Phoenix Corporation to operate all the functions on Midway - as opposed to other companies that just operate the airport - for millions of dollars less money. But why should they? After all, it is not their money but taxpayer money.
Lastly, let's be fair. Why should USFWS change any of its attitudes toward Midway? This unfettered federal agency's actions on Midway go unchallenged by this Congress, the national press, the active duty Navy and the nation. DOES THIS COUNTRY REALLY CARE ABOUT MIDWAY TODAY? The question is yours to answer!
Admiral Shiela M. McNeil, USN (Ret.) is a heroine and stands tall in my eyes for her full commitment to legislation that that will really preserve the Midway National Memorial. She ranks among the few that who have the courage of their convictions. Her letter to the International Midway Memorial Foundation (IMMF) is enclosed in this newsletter.
Colonel J. P. Monroe, USMC (Ret.), Executive Director of the Marine Corps Aviation Association (MCAA), over the years has strongly supported the mission of the International Midway Memorial Foundation (IMMF) to preserve the Battle of Midway. His letter of support is also enclosed in this newsletter. The Foundation is proud to have had the Marine Corps stand beside us.
Admiral J.P. Smith, USN (Ret.), President of the ANA stands behind the IMMF"s efforts to ensure that Midway Atoll is maintained as a living monument to the historic World War II battle fought there in 1942. His letter can also be found in this newsletter.
In February of this year, Admiral Thomas Hinman Moorer, USN (Ret.), former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away at age 91. The loss to the United States and Americans can not be overstated.
For those who did not know him, this special man from Mount Willing, Alabama, the following is a brief look into this man's outstanding career. *He entered the U.S. Naval Academy in the 1929 and graduated in 1933 in the upper half of his class. After graduating, he served in the gunnery and engineering departments of the cruisers Salt Lake City and New Orleans. In June 1935, he began his formal flight training and married Carrie Ellen Foy. His first assignment was aboard the carrier Langley where he flew with Fighting Squadron 1-B. Later, he went on to fly from the carriers Lexington and Enterprise from the 1937 to 1939.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Lieutenant Moorer had already been assigned to Patrol Squadron 22 since 1939. After the attack, his squadron was ordered to the Southwest Pacific to assist the United States in its effort to stop the Japanese advance into the Dutch East Indies.
On February 19, 1942, he and his seven-man crew flew from Darwin, Australia in a PBY-5 in a reconnaisance mission. Far out at sea, they were attacked by Japanese fighters. Although he was wounded in the leg, Lt. Moorer was able to land the burning plane on the sea. Everyone was able to get out of the plane and into a life raft. They were later picked up by a Philippine merchant boat, which was subsequently bombed by more Japanese aircraft. The ship promptly sank. Forty survivors and all but one of Moorer's crew rowed a boat to safety to a nearby island, from which they rescued the next day. Moorer received the Purple Heart and a silver star for "extremely gallant and intrepid conduct" both during and after the Japanese attacks.
Admiral Moorer distinquished himself in both theaters of World War II and at war's end attained the rank of Commander.
He went on to be become the youngest Rear Admiral for the times at age 45. In 1963, he commanded the Seventh Fleet in the Pacific and two years later became Commander-in- Chief of the Atlantic Fleet and Supreme Allied Commander. Moorer became Chief of Naval Operations in June 1967 and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff three years later. He retired from the Chairmanship and U.S.Navy on July 2, 1974 when he received an unprecedented second Distinquished Service Medal.
I had the honor and priviledge to know him during the years he served as Senior Trustee Emeritus of the IMMF. His presence and efforts on the Board accounted for many of the successes of the Foundation. He deeply believed in the mission of the IMMF to preserve the memory of the Battle Of Midway. We will miss him.
* Career excerpts paraphrased from: The Chiefs of Naval Operations, pages 351-363; U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland, 1980.
AD1 William F. Surgi, Jr. USN (Ret.), veteran of the war in the Pacific and the Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway died on November 1, 2003. I first met Bill in 1992 when he asked me to join the ANA's 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee. He had been the driving force behind its inception. I soon learned that Bill was the President of the Coral Sea Association. He had indeed, been aboard the Yorktown in the Battle of the Coral Sea when the carrier was struck by a direct bomb hit. After the Yorktown was repaired at Pearl Harbor, Bill Surgi and the carrier headed toward Midway. Ironically, the great carrier was struck again, this time by multiple torpedo and bomb hits on June 4, 1942. During these attacks, Surgi sustained a broken arm. Fate smiled on Bill, as he was able to escape from the disabled Yorktown before it was ultimately sunk by torpedoes from a Japanese submarine on June 6, 1942. Surgi received the Purple Heart for his wounds at Midway. On February 7, 1952, he retired from the Navy at the insistence of his family. However in December 1973, he joined the Navy Reserve. Ten years later at age 60, he finally retired, once and for all.
His devotion to the Navy persisted throughout his whole life. He continued to be very active in promoting Navy causes. Bill was with Dr. Robert Ballard on May 19, 1998, when the later discovered the Yorktown (CV-5), resting on the Pacific floor almost 18,000 feet deep. He received the Midway Medallion from the Foundation in honor of his profound commitment to promoting the Battle of Midway. Good-bye, Bill.
In December 2003, the IMMF with the support of the East Tennessee Historical Society, the University of Tennessee History Department and Congressman John Duncan (TN), presented to all Knoxville District High Schools a Battle of Midway Essay Contest. A scholarship of $ 500.00 was offered to the senior class winner of the essay entitled "The Global Significance of the Battle of Midway". NOT ONE SINGLE STUDENT ENTERED THE CONTEST. A sign of the times!!
The honeymoon is still on. That is, the real honeymoon that Chris and I have planned for after our wedding. We were waiting for the Queen Mary II to be finished being built. Now that it is, we will visit my family homeland of Italy and Chris's family homeland of Scotland via the Orient Express, before returning home on the Queen Mary II. While we are away, stay well.