Battle of Midway

Battle of Midway

In 1942, Imperial Japan invaded Singapore and took around 25,000 prisoners. Next was the Philippines. With Imperial Japan’s relentless bombardment by planes and heavy siege guns, President Roosevelt did not want General Douglas MacArthur captured, so he ordered him to leave Corregidor, Philippines, and evacuate to Australia. General Douglas MacArthur obeyed, March 11, 1942, but not without promising, “I shall return.”

During Imperial Japan’s occupation of the Philippines, they forced Filipino and American prisoners on the horrible Bataan Death March, where over 10,000 died.

When he heard of this, General Douglas MacArthur stated, April 9, 1942: “To the weeping mothers of its dead, I can only say that the sacrifice and halo of Jesus of Nazareth has descended upon their sons, and that God will take them unto Himself.”

The turning point in the Pacific War began June 4, 1942. American code-breakers intercepted intelligence of Imperial Japan’s plans to capture Midway Island and from there, Hawaii and the rest of the Pacific.

The outnumbered U.S. Pacific Fleet attempted a desperate ambush of the Imperial Japanese armada. Japanese scouting planes spotted the American fleet, but a series of mishaps prevented them from radioing the information back to their fleet. The Imperial Japanese fleet suddenly changed its course, resulting in the American bombers searching for it in vain.

As the time wore on, many American escort fighters ran out of fuel and had to ditch in the ocean. Lieutenant-Commander John Waldron led a torpedo bomber squadron from the U.S. carrier Hornet to attack the Japanese carriers.

Waldron told his men the night before: “My greatest hope is that we encounter a favorable tactical situation, but if we don’t, I want each of us to do our utmost to destroy the enemies. If there is only one plane to make a final run in, I want that man to go in and get a hit. May God be with us.”

Waldron’s squadron was the first to spot the Imperial Japanese fleet. Flying in at low altitude, they suffered the full focus of the Imperial Japanese defenses. Out of 30 of Waldron’s men who took off that morning, only one survived. Lieutenant-Commander John Waldron received the Navy Cross posthumously.

Their sacrifice was not in vain, as it benefited the American dive-bomber squadrons from the U.S. carriers Enterprise and Yorktown, who arrived about an hour later, flying at a much higher altitude.

Navigating by guess and by God, and running low on fuel, Squadron Commander C. Wade McClusky, Jr. decided to continue the search. Through a break in the clouds, they providentially spotted the wake of the Japanese destroyers and followed it to find the Japanese aircraft carriers: Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu.

This was at the precise moment when most of the Imperial Japanese “Zero” fighter planes were busy being refueled and rearmed after fighting Waldron’s squadron, or had just taken off to attack the U.S. carrier Yorktown.

In just five minutes, the screeching American dive-bombers sank three Imperial Japanese carriers, and a fourth shortly after. In just moments, Imperial Japan’s naval force had been cut in half, resulting in them suddenly being forced to the defensive.

Chicago’s Midway Airport was named as a memorial to this battle. Chicago’s O’Hare Airport was named for the Pacific War hero, Lieutenant Commander Edward “Butch” O’Hare.

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After the Battle of Midway, plans were begun to free the Philippines. President Roosevelt said, Aug. 12, 1943: “Three weeks after the armies of the Japanese launched their attack on Philippine soil, I sent a proclamation … to the people of the Philippines … that their freedom will be redeemed. … The great day of your liberation will come, as surely as there is a God in Heaven.”

On Oct. 20, 1944, General Douglas MacArthur returned to the Philippines with U.S. troops, stating: “People of the Philippines: I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil – soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples. We have come, dedicated and committed to the task of destroying every vestige of enemy control. … The hour of your redemption is here. … Let the indomitable spirit of Bataan and Corregidor lead on. … Let no heart be faint. Let every arm be steeled. The guidance of Divine God points the way. Follow in His name to the Holy Grail of righteous victory!”

The same day, President Roosevelt sent a message to General MacArthur: “The whole American nation today exults at the news that the gallant men under your command have landed on Philippine soil. I know well what this means to you. I know what it cost you to obey my order that you leave Corregidor in February, 1942, and proceed to Australia. … That day has come. You have the nation’s gratitude and the nation’s prayers for success as you and your men fight your way back to Bataan.”

President Roosevelt sent the message to Philippine President Osmena, Oct. 20, 1944: “On this occasion of the return of General MacArthur to Philippine soil with our airmen, our soldiers, and our sailors, we renew our pledge. We and our Philippine brothers in arms-with the help of Almighty God-will drive out the invader; we will destroy his power to wage war again, and we will restore a world of dignity and freedom.”

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