Fall 2012 • Vol. XVIII, No. 73
IMMF COMMEMORATES ITS TWENTY ANNIVERSARY
On September 1, 1992, the International Midway Memorial Foundation (IMMF) was founded by yours truly, James D’Angelo. Its creation occurred because the 50th commemoration of the Battle of Midway hosted by the Washington, D.C. Association of Naval Aviation revealed that the U.S. Navy and the public at large did not appreciate the true significance and historic implications of this battle: namely, that the Battle of Midway not only was the turning point of the war in the Pacific but had profound global effects of the outcome of World War II in its entirety.
The Foundation’s first mission was to travel with a film crew to Japan, Midway and Pearl Harbor to begin filming interviews with some of the American and Japanese participants in the Battle of Midway. The trip was highly productive. By the spring of 1994, a quarterly newsletter and a web site had been developed. The IMMF then began to focus its attention on the Midway Atoll by encouraging Congress to pass legislation that would designate Midway Islands as a National Memorial. It had gained the support of Senator Jesse Helms in the Senate and Congressman John Duncan in the House to begin the process. It would, however, take eight years to pass the legislation due to the opposition of U.S. Fish and Wildlife which would inherit Midway from the U.S. Navy in 1995.
While the IMMF efforts were directed on Capitol Hill, it also began its efforts to honor all Midway veterans at a commemorative ceremony on Midway Island for the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. Private arrangements were made with Aloha Airlines to charter a flight to take the group from Honolulu to Midway. One of the highlights of the ceremony was be the dedication of a granite/marble monument on Sand Island near its airstrip. A bronze plaque was also erected on Eastern Island on Henderson airstrip in honor of the 6th Marine Defense Battalion, VMSB-241 and VMF-221. In addition to the Midway veterans, there were also in attendance then - Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jeremy Boorda, USN, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Thomas Moorer, USN (Ret.), Ambassador William Middendorf, who composed the Battle of Midway March for the occasion and Dr. William Dudley, Director of the Naval Historical Center. New IMMF Battle of Midway sterling silver medallions were presented to each Midway veteran. The ashes of Ensign George Gay were spread by plane over the ocean where his TBD-1 Torpedo Bomber ditched into the sea after being hit by Japanese Zeroes. He was the only survivor of Torpedo Squadron (VT-8) aircraft from USS HORNET. The plane then flew to the site where USS YORKTOWN (U.S. carrier) and USS HAMMANN (destroyer) were sunk and one thousand orchids were scattered on the water in honor of their crews. After the monument ceremony was held on Sand Island, the entire group traveled by boat to Eastern Island where Henderson Field was rededicated and the bronze plaque was placed on a brick framework. After dinner in the mess hall, all the participants climbed aboard the 707 Aloha aircraft to return to Honolulu. All the events met IMMF’s expectations and were a great success.
**** BULLETIN: Barry Stieglitz, USFWS Refuge Supervisor just notified me that Midway will no longer allow historic visitation due to budget cuts. Details to follow in the next issue of the Midway Sentinel.
*** The narrative of this commemoration will continue in the next issue of the Midway Sentinel The abstract from The Battle of Midway: An Historical Perspective will continue in future issues of the newsletter.
Chris and I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas.
JAMES M. D'ANGELO
M. CHRISTINE SIMS
1039 RAINBOW COURT
BRADENTON, FL 34212