Remembering the Battle of Midway 75 years later

The United States marks the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway, the decisive Pacific naval battle of World War II.

NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- After months of defeats, a win finally came for the United States in the pivotal Battle of Midway during World War II.

Seventy-five years ago, four Japanese aircraft carriers and a cruiser were sunk. The Imperial Japanese Navy lost 3,057 people, nearly 10 times the number of Americans who died in the battle: 307.

"We wrote a book about Jack 'Dusty' Kleiss, who would never call himself a hero, but we look at him as a hero," said  Laura Orr .

She and her husband, Tim, penned Never Call Me a Hero, the tale of one Battle of Midway pilot who died in 2016 at the age of 100. The couple felt they needed to tell Kleiss' story so it wouldn't be lost.

Tim Orr  said pilots such as Kleiss paid a big price.

"Eighty percent of the torpedo squadrons were lost at Midway, and 50 percent of the dive bomber squadrons were lost, so we kind of wanted to tell that side of he story, and Dusty was the perfect conduit to bring the human side of the Battle of Midway to life," he explained.

The couple's book also chronicles how the battle fundamentally changed how military strategists would re-think the role of carrier-based naval aviation.

"Prior to World War II, most admirals in the U.S. fleet believed that battleships were always going to be the queen of the chess set," he said. "They didn't think that air power would have any relevance in the 20th Century, but the Battle of Midway proved that wrong."

Naval Air Force Atlantic Chief of Staff Captain Bill Ewald said it is a moment worth remembering.

"When you look a the significance of Midway, and relatively small numbers, but the significance of it, it started to turn the tide in the war in the Pacific," Ewald stated.

The Navy will host a special Battle of Midway commemoration beginning at 2 p.m. on June 5. It is free, and everyone is invited to attend.  It's at the Association of Naval Aviation Monument Park at 25th Street and Atlantic Avenue at the boardwalk in Virginia Beach.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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