Often described as the turning point in the Pacific during World War II, the Battle of Midway, which took place June 3-7, 1942, was a naval battle fought almost entirely with aircraft. The United States led a decisive victory, thanks in large part to the intelligence collected by U.S. Navy code breakers around the world and especially those at Station Hypo in Pearl Harbor, who broke the Japanese naval code JN-25 giving U.S. forces advanced warning of Japanese fleet movements. These cryptologists worked diligently under Cmdr. Joseph Rochefort to effectively end the Japanese invasion in the Pacific.
Vice Adm. Mike Gilday, the commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command/U.S. 10th Fleet, began the ceremony with opening remarks about the importance of commemorating the Battle of Midway.
"As a Navy, how do you preserve what makes you strong, while evolving to meet changing demands?" Gilday asked the more than 250 Sailors, Soldiers and civilians in attendance.
"In 2000, Adm. Jay Johnson, was dealing with that very question. He recognized the importance of deliberately celebrating our Navy history and heritage, and in particular, honoring those who have served and sacrificed to make our Navy and nation what it is today," said Gilday. "His vision was that we needed to be a service that honored its past."
Gilday recounted Johnson's message to the fleet from 17 years ago.
After considerable deliberation, it is apparent that the two most significant events in Naval history are October 13, 1775, the birth of the U.S. Navy, and June 4, 1942, the Battle of Midway,' Johnson wrote in the 2000 NAVADMIN. The Battle of Midway one of the most decisive sea battles in world historywas won, not by superior numbers or daunting technology, but by the courage and tenacity of sailors who fought a vicious air and sea battle against overwhelming odds. Their victory helped win us the world we have today, and it is appropriate that we remember it and those who participated in it.'
Following a moment of silence from the crowd, Sailors from NIOC Maryland's choir performed Taps and the Navy Hymn, then audience members watched the 1952 black and white documentary Midway is East'. A historical recounting of the Battle of Midway by guest speaker, historian and author Tom Hone, Ph. D., followed the film.
The ceremony concluded with a panel discussion on knowledge superiority during the Battle of Midway, moderated by 10th Fleet historian, Capt. Bill Lussier, and hosted by Hone; Dave Rosenberg, Ph. D., senior researcher, Institute for Defense Analysis; Dave Hatch, Ph. D., historian, Center for Cryptologic History; and Pat Weadon, curator, National Cryptologic Museum.
The panel focused on cryptologic efforts during the Battle of Midway and how practices from 1942 have influenced and changed today's cyber warfare landscape.
"As the Battle of Midway exemplifies, there is an art and a science to the business of gaining knowledge superiority," Lussier began in a question to the panel. "Both components were critical and both had to be nurtured. How did the art of cryptology benefit the technical knowledge needed to decipher the Japanese plans for the invasion of Midway?"
"I think those who were successful in cryptologic work in WWII were those with good imaginations," Hatch responded. "Perhaps the one truism in cryptologic work is that nothing will be the same tomorrow as it is today. Those who could move with the changes and imagine how to direct their energy with the changes were those who were most successful. This is just as true today as it was during the Battle of Midway."
Lussier concluded the ceremony with a final challenge to the service members in attendance.
"Remember the heroism of those Sailors and Marines at the Battle of Midway who gave everything when their country asked for their service," Lussier said. "Be renewed in your commitment to excellence knowing that you serve in the footsteps of those who served so valiantly before you."
U.S. Fleet Cyber Command serves as the Navy component command to U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Cyber Command, and the Navy's Service Cryptologic Component commander under the National Security Agency/Central Security Service. Fleet Cyber Command also reports directly to the Chief of Naval Operations as an Echelon II command.
U.S. 10th Fleet is the operational arm of Fleet Cyber Command and executes its mission through a task force structure similar to other warfare commanders. In this role, C10F provides operational direction through its Maritime Operations Center located at Fort George Meade, Md., executing command and control over assigned forces in support of Navy or joint missions in cyber/networks, information operations, electronic warfare, cryptologic/signals intelligence and space.