Thursday, June 4, 2009

USS Bataan Commemorates Battle of Midway

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (June 3, 2009) Senior Chief Quartermaster David Tokarski looks through a sexton on the bridge of the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) during the ship's Battle of Midway remembrance. Tokarski is dressed in a World War II style uniform. Sailors and Marines watched Midway-themed movies and documentaries, and donned working khakis with tie and combination cover or utilities with Dixie cups. Bataan is deployed and conducting maritime security operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan Steinhour.)

Living History:

USS BATAAN, At Sea, June 4, 2009 -- The crew of the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) took a time out from at-sea operations June 3 to reflect on and celebrate a group of seafaring heroes and one of the country's most important naval victories -- the Battle of Midway.

Decked out in utilities with 'Dixie' cups and working khakis with black ties and combination covers, Bataan's crew attempted to recreate the look and battle rhythm of their shipmates in 1942.

Midway announcements were made on the ship's general announcing system throughout the day, and the Defense Media Activity-Anacostia's documentary, "Destination Point Luck – Voices From Midway," played continuously on Bataan's closed-circuit television station.

"The crew donned their old utilities and wash khakis to recreate some of the old photos in the Navy's archives," said Command Master Chief Brian Collier.

"It's the last time we're going to be wearing the wash khakis, at least until the dress khakis come out, and the crew embraced it well. It gave us a chance to have a lot of fun and to look back on our heritage and that great generation of our past."

Midway took place June 4–7, 1942 and is considered to be the turning point of the war in the Pacific. With the help of American code breakers, a carrier strike force, augmented by shore-based patrol bombers, decisively defeated an Imperial Japanese navy carrier task force. The Navy's actions in the Pacific prevented Japanese forces from capturing Midway and changed the course of the war.

While not a single member of the Bataan crew was alive during those heroic events, the celebration allowed them to remember a great victory and tremendous sacrifice.

"It kind of takes us back in time so we can live it, feel it," said Equipment Technician 2nd Class (AW) William Cepeda, Bataan's junior Sailor of the quarter. "I'm kind of young so I wasn't around, and I don't have any family that was in the military at that time either, so it's cool to see the events and the things that happened."

The Midway commemoration will be felt by more than just Bataan's crew.

"When I have Sailors and Marines come up to me asking for a copy of pictures, so they can send copies to their grandfather, that to me is a significant statement that they get it," said Collier. "They are out here just like the Sailors and Marines of yesterday. They are mission focused and ready to answer all bells to perform at the tip of the spear."

Battle of Midway celebrations will take place throughout the fleet, beginning June 4; Bataan's crew celebrated a day early due to the ship's operational schedule.

The U.S. Navy Memorial will host a commemoration of the Battle of Midway June 4 in Washington, D.C.

The ceremony will be broadcast live at 2 p.m. EDT on, the Pentagon Channel and the Direct-to-Sailor Network.

Bataan is on a regularly scheduled deployment conducting maritime security operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet Area of Operation.

Bataan is the fifth ship of the Navy's Wasp-class ships, was commissioned Sept. 20, 1997, and is the second U.S. Navy warship to bear the name.

(Report by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Christina Shaw, USS Bataan Public Affairs.)

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