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BREMERTON, Washington - Sailors stationed aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) participated in a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway at the Bremerton Boardwalk, June 6.
The event, which was also attended by local veterans, included a formation by John C. Stennis Sailors and a wreath laying ceremony to remember the lives lost during the battle and veterans lost in decades since.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for us to pay our respects to the generations that went before us, especially since there are very few left,” said retired Army Capt. Jim Taylor, from Fort Worth, Texas. “It’s important we don’t forget the sacrifices they made. It’s a commitment of a small amount of time for everyone to remember.”
The Battle of Midway, fought from June 4-7, 1942, was a decisive victory for the United States on the Pacific front during World War II. During the battle, allied surface and air forces destroyed a significant portion of the Japanese Imperial Navy. Midway is considered by many as the turning point of the War in the Pacific, and is one of the most well-known and revered battles in naval history.
On the morning of June 4, 1942, three U.S. torpedo squadrons, VT-8, VT-6 and VT-3 attacked the Japanese fleet while they were refueling and rearming, resulting in the sinking of four aircraft carriers. What’s significant about this battle is that the U.S. was flying the much slower and less maneuverable Devastator bombers.
American pilots and gunners were sitting ducks for the much quicker Japanese Zero fighters, yet went into the face of danger without hesitation. Only six of 41 Devastator aircraft made it back safely that morning.
“The courage they had to go into battle takes a lot of commitment and that dedication lives on today,” said Chief Master-at-Arms Michael Reyes, from San Antonio, who works at Naval Base Kitsap Security Department. “We may be called on to defend the homeland and we may need to find that type of courage again and we can use those that went before us as an example. Those are some big shoes to fill and big expectations that we need to live up to and carry on that tradition of service when called upon.”
Retired Army aircrewman, Kenneth Jensen, from Lapoint, Utah, was an honorary guest at the ceremony. Jensen flew out of a squadron stationed in Molesworth, England. His B-17 Flying Fortress bomber was shot down over Germany and he was a prisoner of war for three months. He flew 23 missions over Germany and is a Purple Heart recipient.
“I’m glad to be here today, and acknowledging this event is an honor,” said Jensen. “I have a lot of pride and many memories.”
The ceremony concluded with a gun salute and a bugler to play taps as the official party mixed in with the audience.
John C. Stennis is conducting a PIA at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, during which the ship is undergoing scheduled maintenance and upgrades.