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6/6/14

Richard Raymond's June Pome - Day Of Victory

Walter Lord’s classic account of the action at Midway, “Incredible Victory”, said it precisely. It was incredible, and hinged not only on the inspired detective work of LCDR Rochefort’s radio intelligence group, which gave ADM Nimitz a true picture of Japanese intentions, but RADM Raymond Spruance’s deft handling of his greatly outnumbered forces. Every advantage appeared to lie with Yamamoto’s powerful Combined Fleet, consisting of battleships, cruisers and destroyers, plus Nagumo’s Carrier Task Force, fleet-class carriers KagaAkagiSoryu and Hiryu, with their escorts, and backed by the invasion force of amphibious transports, with at least a division of embarked troops. It might have been an overwhelming Japanese victory, were it not for the heroic sacrifice of the three torpedo squadrons from YorktownHornet and Enterprise, which resulted in pulling the Japanese fighters down to low level, and allowed LCDR Wade McClusky’s dive bombers to attack unimpeded. In fifteen minutes, the first three enemy carriers, whose decks were jammed with planes being refueled and rearmed, were reduced to flaming hulks, and went to the bottom, being joined before sundown by Hiryu. Not only were the carriers lost, but the cream of their Naval Air Force pilots, a loss which could never be made good. For lack of air cover, Yamamoto was forced to withdraw. Though Yorktown was lost, the tide had turned in the Pacific, and from that point, the march to Tokyo had begun.

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