In every battle there is a moment when the combatants, and the world, seem to catch their breath. It is a fleeting moment, lost in the blink of an eye. But in that same blink, everything changes. Such moments are borne of desperation, of courage, of plain dumb luck. But they are pivotal – for what was before is forever changed afterwards. – SJS (June 2007)

Three years ago I wrote that at the end of a series of posts (which are collected here)  that began on the 65th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, and culminated on the anniversary of Midway with some modern day observations and what we might take away. For even today, with all our technological sophistication there are still things we can learn at all levels, be it at the Fleet or in the cockpit or on the bridge.  One of those lessons is the role of the individual and seizing the initiative when everything else seems to be going to hell in a handbasket around you.  That was something impressed upon me as a young LTJG E-2C Mission Commander and I found resonance and inspiration from the JO’s and petty officer’s actions that pivotal day.

And sometimes it means pressing ahead into a situation from which you know there is no way out — but to do otherwise would result in a greater loss.

There aren’t too many of them left — the original Midway vets that is.  Same for the Doolittle Raiders.  Ditto Medal of Honor awardees from that era.   These modern day Samuel’s raised their Ebenezer in our darkest hours – and what was before was forever changed.

The job wasn’t finished yet though, and the way ahead was still perilous — Guadalcanal, Savo Island, Bloody Tarawa (can it ever be though of as just Tarawa?), Iwo Jima, Anzio, Normandy, Bastogne and the Meuse — Okinawa; all lay in the future.  But it was a future made possible by the fighting spirit of the Navy, Marines and Army Air Corps in a far flung theater whose battlefield was but a featureless, sun-dappled sea of blue.  Still, more would come and follow in their footsteps.  And you and I today carry their proud heritage forward.

The far horizon is difficult to discern these days and it may well indeed hide gathering storm clouds – from whence direction I can not say for certain.  But it would do us well to heed their lessons and remember their deeds when the warning flags are broken and we are called to battlestations once again.

– SJS, June 2010

2 Comments

  1. Bill the Shoe

    http://www.usnwc.edu/getattachment/612aa0c4-47a1-4107-afbb-17fa992adf59/Reflecting-on-Fuchida,-or–A-Tale-of-Three-Whopper

    Worth reading. Resulted in reading _Shattered Sword_, which incorporates an excellent analysis of IJN carrier operations.

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