When "Mrs. Robinson" - a song written by Paul Simon - became a hit in the 1960's, Joe Dimaggio was initially offended by the above lyrics. Jolting Joe was quick to point out to Simon and Garfunkel that he had not gone anywhere and was still in New York. They responded to Joe by saying that the lyrics were symbolic in nature and that the words reflected a desire to return to a time and a culture that existed when Dimaggio played baseball for the New York Yankees (1936-1951).
Today, that sentiment still applies. Case in point: The Midway Islands were designated a National Memorial by Congress in 1999. To date, this designation has effectively been ignored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Congress, up to this time, has been unwilling to take the USFWS to task on this issue. However, in Joe Dimaggio's time this would never be the case.
For those were the days when public outcry and Congress would never permit this sacrilege to take place. These islands, though remote, are the place where American blood and bravery led to the turning point in the war in the Pacific. But then again, those were the days when our values were different; the World War II generation remembers baseball when it was a game.
It is a great honor for the Foundation to be the caretaker of USS Arizona flag that flew over this great warship in 2004. With this sacred flag comes the memories and symbolism of all those brave men who lived and died on the battleship on that fateful day December 7, 1941.
Since the last issue of the Midway Sentinel, another great hero of the Battle of Midway has left his family and us. Tom had the distinction of serving his country in both the Doolittle Raid and the Battle of Midway. On December 1, 1941, just six days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, CDR Cheek served as a fighter pilot on board the USS Lexington. On April 18, 1942, he flew combat air patrol aboard the USS Enterprise after the B-25 Mitchell bombers had taken off from the USS Hornet and were heading toward Tokyo. Two months later on June 4, 1942, and flying from the USS Yorktown, Tom flew cover for that carrier's torpedo bombers as they headed into action against the Japanese carrier force northeast of Midway. Deluged by Japanese Zeros, he broke off his coverage of the TBDs and warded off and attacked a number of these far superior fighter aircraft before returning back to the U.S. fleet.
Tom was a great supporter of the Midway Foundation and its causes. I will sincerely miss Tom, and will be forever grateful for what he did for this country. He has joined others above in Midway's band of brothers.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO EVERYONE FROM CHRIS AND ME.