By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jules Stobaugh, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTION (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert hosted the Battle of Midway Congressional Reception at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., June 3.
Navy and Marine Corps veterans of the Battle of Midway, Gen. Earl E. Anderson, Navy Capt. Jack Crawford, Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Miller, Chief Gunner's Mate Hank Kudzik, Chief Yeoman Bill Norberg and Cook Third Class Petty Officer William Fentress, were honored guests during the ceremony.
While a three-piece band played, guests viewed paintings depicting the Battle of Midway, and artifact exhibits from the Naval History and Heritage Command. Comments were also delivered by the veterans and Mabus.
"We honor these six Sailors and Marines, and we honor the thousands that they represent," said Mabus. "We honor them by learning from the experiences and the wisdom that they're going to share with us tonight. We honor them by viewing these exhibits, reflecting on their courage and the sacrifice of so many of their shipmates. But most importantly, we honor them by partnering together to secure that legacy, the legacy of the Navy and World War II, the legacy of Midway."
"I'm greatly honored to be here," said Kudzik, as he spoke about honoring lost shipmates. "For those of us who go down to the sea in ships: farewell."
The Battle of Midway took place from June 4-8, 1942, and is considered to be a turning point for the allied forces in the Pacific campaign of World War II. The battle proved to be the first decisive victory by the United States in the war with Japan.
Though only seven months after the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the battle demonstrated to all that the U.S. would stand and fight in the Pacific.
"We have a number of artifacts that date from the entirety of the Pacific war," said Sam Cox, director of the Naval History and Heritage Command. "Probably the most significant one is the brass plaque that was on board the USS Missouri for the Japanese surrender at the end of the war, which would have taken much longer had it not been for the victory at the Battle of Midway."
Mabus touched on the presence these veterans have brought to the Navy over the past 70 years.
"I talk a lot about naval presence and the value naval presence brings," he said. "Well, your presence here today shows just how long-lasting and how vital naval presence has been for more than 70 years for our country."