Battle of Midway Commemoration

Monday, 04 June 2012

at the Submarine Force Library and Museum

Groton, Connecticut

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Slide show HERE

The Navy Hymn (Eternal Father) should play while you read this page

DSC04697.jpg (122235 bytes) DSC04721.jpg (92527 bytes)  These two rings illustrate the hull diameters of the USS Ohio (SSBN 726) and the USS Holland (SS-1)

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These plaques commemorate the 41 Polaris submarines that served the United States

DSC04710.jpg (209049 bytes) Polaris Missile

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DSC04714.jpg (190593 bytes)  DSC04715.jpg (238039 bytes)  Deck gun from submarine  DSC04716.jpg (170890 bytes) Coil spring to absorb recoil.

DSC04717.jpg (131573 bytes)  Guide rail for the recoil action   DSC04719.jpg (156419 bytes)  Elevating mechanism

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DSC04730.jpg (140095 bytes)  Model of the Nautilus as imagined by Jules Verne

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DSC04741.jpg (235930 bytes)  At the podium is LCDR Rob Sawyer, to his left is Captain Marc W. Denno and Chaplain Price.  Hidden by the podium is Master Chief Deen Brown (USN retired)

DSC04747.jpg (181329 bytes)  Master Chief Brown


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It is my belief that there is no harm in asking so after the ceremony I asked LCDR Rob Sawyer and Captain Marc W. Denno if it would be possible to get copies of their remarks.  They very graciously consented to granting my request so I am able to present here the text of the remarks made at the ceremony.

Thank you very much!

Battle of Midway Commemoration

Monday, 04 June 2012

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Good morning!

Distinguished State and local officials and community leaders, Members, veterans, and friends of Naval Submarine Base New London, Our Submarine Force, and Our Great Navy, Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Welcome to the Submarine Force Library and Museum. I am LCDR Rob Sawyer the Officer in Charge of the Museum and the historic ship, USS Nautilus.

Iíll be serving as Master of Ceremonies today.

Will guests please rise the arrival of our Official Party.

(Official part arrives)

Thank you, please be seated.

Today we commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway.

On May 29, 1942 in the days just before the epic battle, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, wrote to Admiral Ernest J. King, the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations:

"We are actively preparing to greet our expected visitors with the kind of reception they deserve."

The reception that Admiral Nimitz spoke of and the action of the Sailors and Marines, who provided it, is one of our Nationís great World War II stories.

We are so happy to be joined by Submarine Force veterans, especially those veterans of World War II.

You were Americaís sword and shield in the Pacific after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The legacy of boldness and courage that you forged not only shaped the foundation of our Submarine Force, but also ensured the preservation and perseverance of our Navy and our Nation.

So veterans, friends, ladies and gentlemen, please join me now in honoring our great Nation.

Please stand for the presentation of colors by the Naval Submarine School Silver Dolphin Color Guard and remain standing for National Anthem which will be played by Grotonís own West Side Middle School Band.

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(Silver Dolphins present colors and National Anthem played). DSC04744.jpg (184646 bytes)

Thank you West Side!

Color Guard, Retire the Colors  

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Thank you Silver Dolphins.

Midway was an improbable victory for our Navy. Our force was small, not battle hardened, and it faced the might of the Japanese Imperial Navy.

It was the determination and courage of our Sailors and Marines that turned the tide.

And we are very honored to have with us today retired Master Chief Deen Brown, a Battle of Midway veteran.

In June 1942, Radioman Deen Brown stationed aboard USS Trout (SS 202) had no idea that the three-day Battle of Midway, the turning point in the Pacific during WW II would commence, June 4 at 4:30 a.m.

As Trout left Pearl Harbor for Midway, only two of the submarineís four engines were online due to damage from supporting the famed Doolittle Raids in April 1942.

The Doolittle Raid was sixteen U.S. Army Air Forces B-25B Mitchell medium bombers launched from the U.S. Navyís aircraft carrier USS Hornet deep in the Western Pacific Ocean and conducted the first air raid by the United States to strike the Japanese Home Islands.

As Trout headed towards Midway to join Submarine Task group 7.1 and 11 other U.S submarines, all hands worked to get Troutís other two engines back online.

As Master Chief Brown will confirm, like any dedicated crew committed to an arduous task they were successful; when Trout reached Midway, all four engines were back in service.

The Battle of Midway would play out as an aerial conflict more that a surface or sub-surface engagement.

But, during the Battle of Midway Trout continued to provide screening west of the island and the crew had their work cut out for them.

The radioman had to copy 25 words per minute of Morse code. No easy feat!

Three days after the battle, on June 9th USS Trout found two Japanese sailors among the debris of the IHM Mikuma.

Dehydrated and badly sunburned, they were pulled from the water. Chief Radioman Katsuichi Yoshida and Fireman Third Class Kenichi Ishikawa were given care aboard Trout until they could be taken to Pearl Harbor to be hospitalized. Ishikawa was able to identify the ship they were on as the Mikuma by being shown a catalogue of ships. Yoshida didnít speak and it was originally thought to be due to his Japanese sense of honor. It was later found out that he had seven broken ribs.

Radioman Brown served on Trout until just before it left for its eleventh patrol.

After the war, Master Chief Brown stayed in the Navy and as the ranks of Senior Chief and Master Chief were created in June 1958, he became one of the first Sailors to make Master Chief without ever having to attain the rank of Senior Chief.

Master Chief Brown, thank you for your service and for joining us in our Battle of Midway Commemoration. We very much appreciate it.

And now, in commemoration of the great service and sacrifice all our Midway veterans who contributed so mightily to this American Naval Victory, Iíll ask retired Master Chief Brown and Captain Marc W. Denno, Commanding Officer of Naval Submarine Base New London to place a wreath upon the Thames River in tribute.

Ladies and gentleman, please stand.

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(Captain Marc W. Denno and Master Chief Brown carry the wreath to the edge of the pier and drop it into the water.)

West Side School Band plays Taps.

Our wreath laying ceremony here takes place in concert with many similar wreath-laying ceremonies throughout our Navy around the world.

In doing so, we honor all those who have served or are serving with honor, courage and commitment.

We pause now to remember and honor the spirit of Midway in our Navy and our Nation.

(Pause while CAPT and Master Chief return to seats)

Thank you, please be seated.

Well, quite a lot has changed in our Navy and at SUBASE Groton since that defining moment in World War II.

Today Submarine Base New London is home to 15 fast attack submarines and more than 70 tenant commands including the Naval Submarine School and the Submarine Learning Center, which form the center of excellence for our United States Submarine Force training.

Leading the base in meeting its mission, and more, is the 49th Commanding Officer of Naval Submarine Base New London.

Please join me in welcoming Captain Marc W. Denno.  DSC04752.jpg (161224 bytes) 

Captain Dennoís remarks:

Good Morning

Master Chief Brown, Members, Veterans, and Friends of our great Navy and Armed Forces, Students of the West Side Middle School Band.

Welcome to Naval Submarine Base New London and the Submarine Force Museum.

What an appropriate setting to mark this commemoration. Not only are we at the waterís edge but also here at this Historic Ship Nautilus (SSN 571). Her predecessor was USS Nautilus (SS-168). Modernized between July 1941 and April 1942, that Nautilus deployed on her first war patrol only to find submarine and crew intensely involved in the Battle of Midway.

During the battle on the early afternoon of June 4, 1942, Nautilus attacked a Japanese aircraft carrier that was at that time identified as "Soryu" but was more probably "Kaga."

Lieutenant Commander William H. Brockman, Jr., Nautilusí Commanding Officer, would later receive the Navy Cross for his performance during the engagement.

So, what a fitting location.

First and foremost, let me state that I am so pleased and thankful that we are all here to remember and to participate in this event.

I say that I am thankful that we are here purposefully. This morning on the way to the base, I passed the area of Route 12 near Grotonís former Seely elementary school. Itís named for a young Fitch High School graduate who is no longer here. He was a young man much like our students here.

His widowed mother started working at Electric Boat as he finished his freshman year. He was mild-mannered and studious. He played football and ran track. His Principal said of him: "At all times he sacrificed the opportunity for personal glory in order that the team might get the best results."

Well, that young man was William E. Seely - who at age 19, found himself standing tall one Sunday as a First Class Seaman serving on a mighty battleship of the United States Navy stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Seelyís battleship was USS Arizona; and the Sunday was December 7 1941, the day when the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by Naval and Air Forces of the Empire of Japan.

By that dayís end, Japanese forces had not only assaulted Pearl Harbor, Hawaii but also the Philippines, Guam, Malaya, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Wake and Midway Islands.

With Germany already waging war in Europe, our Nation and the Four Essential Freedoms, described by President Franklin Roosevelt in January of 1941 and cherished by Americans, were in peril.

As sun set in Hawaii that 7th of December, thousands of Americans, like William E. Seely, lay dead and much of the Navyís great Pacific Fleet, like USS ARIZONA, lay in ruins.

Freedom from fear seemed ever distant.

How could our Nation and Navy rebound? Quite simply by adapting, improvising, and overcoming! And that is exactly what our Nation and our Navy did.

The attack on Pearl Harbor thrust us from a Nation struggling with isolationism to the worldí s "Arsenal of Democracy." And America mobilized to meet this challenge of war.

Citizens worked together toward this common goal as the "We Can Do It," attitude spread across the country. Men and women came together to ensure that their Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and Merchant Mariners had all that American industry could give them.

And the landscape of American business was forever changed as over 19 million women and many minority workers took high-skill jobs to contribute to the war effort. America indeed adapted. While this was taking place, our Armed Forces improvised and exercised trained and sometimes "untrained" initiative.

One result of such efforts was the cracking of the Japanese Navyís Codes. With the information revealed by breaking these codes, our Armed Forces could attempt to counter Japanese offensives throughout the vast expanse of the Pacific.

And perhaps, the most dramatic illustration and execution of this was the Battle of Midway.

Of course, knowing about a plan and the enemyís intentions is no guarantee of thwarting them.

No, overcoming would require astute leadership, operational acumen and exceptional skills from the bridge to the deck plate, and a faith and confidence in each Sailor and Marine to do their utmost in carrying out the mission.

During the Battle of Midway, our Navy and Marine Corps exercised those character traits and more.

From Navy leaders like Admirals Nimitz, Fletcher, and Spruance, to Lt.Col. Harold F. Shannon, commanding the Marine Corps garrison at Midway, and Radioman Deen Brown stationed aboard USS Trout (SS 202) our Sailors and Marines made the difference at Midway and the United States overcame.

Japanese commander Admiral Isoroku Yamamotoís plan to assemble an aircraft carrier task force, launch a diversionary raid off the Aleutian Islands and lure the U.S. Navy to Midway Island and destroy what remained of the American fleet after Pearl Harbor. And, to invade Midway and use it as a base for attacking Hawaii was thwarted.

On June 4, 1942, US aircraft flying from USS Enterprise, USS Hornet, and USS Yorktown attacked and sunk four Japanese carriers, Japanese carriers that had attacked Pearl Harbor only six months before.

Yamamoto and Japanese Forces were forced to withdraw.

The Battle of Midway marked the turning point of World War II in the Pacific. The U.S. victory there ended Japanís seemingly unstoppable advance across the Pacific.

From December 7th, 1941, it took some six months to turn the tide but we did in the Battle of Midway.

Following Midway, it would take another three and a quarter years before our Nation was again secure. But in that time, we had assembled the most magnificent fighting force in history, we had adapted and improvised, and ultimately, we had overcome.

In todayís war on terrorism, we know that all Americans and freedom loving people may be on the front lines. We know that combating this unique enemy will require unprecedented boldness and innovation. And we know that effort and sacrifice will ultimately be rewarded.

So today, as we remember the turning point that the Battle of Midway represented, we honor those lost.

We honor those who survived.

We honor those who, on the front lines or in support, helped turn the tide to victory.

And we commemorate the lessons we have all learned from their sacrifice, to adapt, improvise, and overcome.

May our Nation and Navy never forget the Battle of Midway.

Thank you.


LCDR Rob Sawyer, Thank you, Captain.

I would now like to call on Naval Submarine Base New London Chaplain, LT Robert Price, to offer a prayer.

Please rise.

Chaplain Price.

(The Chaplain offered a thoughtful and moving prayer)

Thank you Chaplain.

And now, I request that all remain standing for the West Side Middle School Bandís rendition of the Navy Hymn.

Thank you, please be seated.

West Side students, youíve made your school and community proud, and we canít thank you enough for contributing to this event.

Well done!

Ladies and Gentlemen that concludes our ceremony this morning.

Thank you for your attendance. Have a Great Navy Day?


Again, thank you to the US Navy for allowing me to publish my experience at the Battle of Midway  Commemoration ceremony.


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