APRIL 29, 2015

Fourth Annual Battle of Midway Commemoration to recount the importance of this historic World War II Naval Battle

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PHOENIX – A group of Phoenix-based organizations, including the Battle of Midway Commemoration Committee, the Arizona Capitol Museum and the Arizona Capitol Museum Guild announced plans to present the 4th Annual Battle of Midway Commemoration on Friday, June 5, 2015, at the Historic Senate Chamber in the State Capitol Museum.

battle of midwayOn June 4, 1942, barely six months following the crippling surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, a supposedly superior force of Japanese naval units attacked the U.S. naval base at Midway Atoll, 1,300 miles northwest of Hawaii. The attack was a bid to capture the base and annihilate the remaining American naval units in the Pacific, thus paving the way for an invasion of the Hawaiian Islands.  The Japanese hoped that with this stroke, its rivalry with the United States in the Pacific would come to an end, with a negotiated peace settlement that saw the Japanese as the dominant power in the Pacific.  Instead, American forces ambushed the Japanese fleet on June 4, resulting in the sinking of four of Japan's front-line aircraft carriers which played a major role in Japan’s success thus far in Pacific expansion -- including the Pearl Harbor attack.  The Battle of Midway is considered by historians to be the turning point in the Pacific War with Japan, signaling the end to Japanese expansion and the beginning of a relentless drive to defeat the Japanese which concluded with the unconditional surrender of Japan's forces in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.

The June 5, 2015 commemoration coincides with the announcement by the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C. that the United States Navy will establish the Battle of Midway as one of two special annual commemorations, the other being the founding of the United States Navy on October 13, 1775.  In addition, 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and accordingly, this year's annual commemoration of the turning point in the Pacific War will offer significant overtones at a time of national observance.

Attendees at the June 5 commemoration at the Arizona Capitol Museum will hear presentations about the events leading up to and occurring during and after the historic battle.  Special appearances are planned by Jack Holder (93), a Pearl Harbor survivor and participant in the Midway battle who will recount his experiences; and retired Navy Rear Admiral Hugh Dennis Wisely, decorated Naval Aviator, former member of the Navy's Blue Angels aerial acrobatics team and Captain of the aircraft carrier, U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, who will speak to the importance of naval aviation and its future as a necessary ingredient in the Nation's defense.  The commemoration will also honor the memory of Ensign John C. Butler, of Liberty (Buckeye), Arizona, who flew as a member of Bombing Squadron 3 from the U.S.S. Yorktown and who died when his dive bomber was shot down during the battle.  For his gallantry, Butler was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the Navy's highest honor.  The Navy subsequently commissioned a destroyer escort bearing his name as a tribute to his accomplishments.  Marshall Trimble, noted American author, singer, professor and Arizona's official state historian, will preside over the event as Master of Ceremonies. 

Events such as these continue to educate the public about the significance of World War II and Arizona's role in bringing the conflict to a successful end, 70 years ago.  In 2013, the state unveiled Arizona's World War II Memorial, at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, which includes one 14-inch gun from the U.S.S. Arizona (sunk at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941) and one 16-inch gun from the U.S.S. Missouri (upon whose decks the Japanese signed the instrument of surrender in September, 1945, bringing World War II to a close). 

The 120-minute event will begin at 11 a.m., on Friday, June 5, 2015, on the third floor of the State Capitol Museum, at 1700 West Washington Street in Phoenix, Arizona.  Light refreshments will be served at the conclusion of the presentation.  Admission is free.  Seating will be limited.  Contact (602) 885-7038 for more information.

The Battle of Midway Commemoration Committee is an ad hoc group of organizations, including the Arizona Veterans Connection Magazine, the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps and the Arizona Capitol Museum Guild.  The Committee oversees the annual presentation of the Midway commemoration.  Its mission it is to provide for the public's continuing education about this important historic event in the Second World War and the state's relationship with it.

The Arizona Capitol Museum (http://www.azlibrary.gov/azcm), located under the copper dome in the Historic State Capitol, uses a balance of technology, hands-on activities, historical artifacts, and public programs to help visitors learn about and interact with the government of the 48th State. Visitors to the Arizona Capitol Museum can trace Arizona government from territorial times to statehood, and on to present day. They can learn how the Arizona Constitution continues to drive Arizona's state government and explore the Capitol and Wesley Bolin Plaza monuments.  Exhibits display a broad array of topics spanning Arizona's proud history, and include such exhibits as: “Your Vote, Your Voice, Your Government," an Election Center featuring the latest information about Arizona politics; a historic reconstruction of Arizona's first Governor's Office; the original Senate and House Chambers; a display of Arizona's state symbols; the Merci Train, containing gifts given to the State by the People of France, in gratitude for America's generosity after World War II; the “U.S.S. Arizona, Flagship of the Fleet,”  featuring the ship’s silver service; “Defense to Development” about Arizona's role in World War II and the state’s development thereafter; and many other unique presentations abut Arizona and its history.  The Museum is a unit of the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, a division of the Secretary of State.

The Arizona Capitol Museum Guild (www.azlibrary.gov/azcm/support-azcm), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, supports the Arizona Capitol Museum and affiliated activities. It does this through volunteerism, financial assistance, staff support, and community involvement. The Guild sponsors several museum activities, including, receptions, special events, volunteer activities, artifact conservation, education and exhibit programs.  The Guild assists the Arizona Capitol Museum in achieving its goals and objectives by creating and implementing strategies which focus on recruitment and membership retention; participation in fundraising as well as the development process for museum exhibits; and building and developing a stronger community outreach program for sustainable support.

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