BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) — Officers and Chiefs from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) gathered June 2 to remember the sacrifice of all who served at the Battle of Midway, the turning point in the Pacific campaign during World War II.
Battle of Midway survivor Harry Ferrier was the evening's guest of honor.
"I don't feel like a hero," Ferrier said to the nearly 200 guests in attendance. "I'm just a survivor. The heroes are the men who died."
Of the 48 service members who were sent into battle surrounding the tiny atoll during the first wave of attacks, Ferrier was one of just three to return.
"It's important to remember one of the most epic battles; especially following Memorial Day," said Capt. Paul O. Monger, Nimitz' Commanding Officer. "It helped us realize the importance of carrier aviation as a part of Naval warfare."
Ferrier was just 16 years old when he joined the Navy and just one year later, he was attached to Torpedo Squadron 8 as a Radioman 3rd Class on his way to Midway Island to combat Japanese forces.
"There are terrible losses that we suffer in battles like these," explained Ferrier. "I always think of my shipmates who gave their lives so that we can be doing what we're doing now."
Ferrier, a veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, said it was not until years later that he learned about Naval intelligence breaking the code of the attack.
"I felt very honored to have a survivor – participant in the Battle of Midway in attendance tonight," said Chief Religious Program Specialist James Gibson, Nimitz's Religious Ministries leading chief petty officer. "It's very important to remember our fallen comrades. A lot of Americans have died so that we can be free. We need to keep their spirit alive from generation to generation."
Monger presented Ferrier with a Nimitz ball cap and a plaque at the ceremony's conclusion. Ferrier then made himself available for photos and questions.
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