PENSACOLA, Fla. — Area Navy
commands and the local community remembered the Battle of Midway during
a ceremony held at the National Museum of Naval Aviation on board Naval
Air Station (NAS) Pensacola June 4.
Hosted by the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training (CNATT),
the commemoration ceremony honored the service of those who fought in
the decisive World War II battle 73 years ago.
Capt. Katherine Erb, CNATT commanding officer welcomed the guests and
noted that observances like the Battle of Midway commemoration play an
important part in highlighting the Navy’s history.
“Part of our mission as naval professionals is to preserve and
celebrate our rich naval history and heritage,” said Erb. “Understanding
our past is key to developing strategies to handle the challenges of
the future, and is fundamental to building and operating the Navy and Marine Corps forces our nation requires.”
Considered by many military historians to be the turning point of
World War II in the Pacific theater, the Battle of Midway was fought in
the vicinity of Midway Island June 4-7, 1942. As a response to their
sending planes to attack the U.S. base at Midway, Imperial Japanese Navy
aircraft carriers were fatally damaged by dive bombers from USS
Enterprise (CV 6) and USS Yorktown (CV 5).
Four Japanese carriers were sunk, and 3,057 Japanese personnel were
killed in the conflict, at the cost of the Yorktown and 307 American
personnel. Compelled by their losses, the Japanese were forced to
abandon their plans to capture Midway and retired westward. This
decisive win for the U.S brought an end to Japanese naval superiority in
Col. Eric Buer, commanding officer of Marine Aviation Training
Support Group 21, was the guest speaker for the Battle of Midway
commemoration and focused his remarks on how America’s young men and
their machines were able to triumph over a seemly insurmountable force
and invincible foe. He addressed the standing-room-only crowd that
included several surviving veterans of Midway.
“We are here today not only to remember the great importance of the
Battle of Midway, but to remember those who suffered and sacrificed, and
those like our shipmates here in the front row who continue to
sacrifice,” said Buer. “The story of Midway is about courage, about
hope, about conviction and about leadership.”
During the ceremony, a wreath was placed to honor the memories of
those who lost their lives during the battle. Midway veteran guests at
the event included Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Gordon Pierce,
Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Wiley Bartlett, Radioman 1st Class James
Stofer and Barbara Wheeler, wife of the late Chief Aviation Ordnanceman
For Pierce, attending the ceremony was bittersweet. It brought back
memories of his shipmates, many of whom have passed away in recent
“When I think back to previous year’s ceremonies, it saddens me to
think of how many of my fellow Sailors are gone now and cannot be here,”
CNATT is the largest learning center under the Naval Education and
Training Command and is accredited by the Council on Education. Its
mission is to develop, deliver, and support the aviation technical
training necessary to meet validated fleet requirements through a
continuum of professional and personal growth for Sailors and Marines.
In the CNATT enterprise, there are 17 subordinate commands across 27
locations around the world.