►July 5, 1859 – Captain N.C. Brooks of the Hawaiian Bark Gambia discovers the Island. Islands were named “Middlebrook Islands“.
►January 28, 1869 – The Navy adopts the name Midway Islands, according to a report submitted to the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs.
►November 16, 1886 – The schooner General Siegel was shipwrecked at Midway during a storm.
►February 3, 1888 – The British bark Wandering Minstrel was shipwrecked in Wells Harbor, during a storm.
►January 17, 1899 – The USS Bennington took possession of Wake Island, with the intention of having it used as a cable station between Midway and Guam. This idea was dropped when it was found there was no natural fresh water to sustain the cable station staff.
►February 1899 – The project of a trans-Pacific cable has been much discussed recently, and President McKinley sounded the keynote for its construction in his message to Congress in February, 1899, in which he states that “Such communication should be established in such a way as to be wholly under the control of the United States, whether in time of peace or of war.” The construction of such a cable has been shown to be entirely practicable, and American manufacturers have shown themselves willing to undertake and guarantee the manufacture, laying, equipment, and operation of such a system of trans-Pacific cables.
ESTIMATED COST OF PROPOSED COLONIAL TELEGRAPH SYSTEM. CABLES IN THE PACIFIC. Trans-Pacific cable, San Francisco, via Hawaiian Islands, Midway Island, and Island of Guam to Luzon $12,000,000 / Inter-Island communication for the Hawaiian Group 150,000
Special Note: The Restorer and her role. The Restorer’s duty was mainly to look after the Commercial Pacific Cable, laid in 1902-03. This ran San Francisco-Honolulu-Midway-Guam-Manila, P.I.. Adjacent cables were sometimes worked upon. The new cable needed little work in the early years. In about the first 10 years, Restorer’s log showed 114 days at sea, and 3,750 days at anchor in harbor, in drydock, or at dockside. The first CPCC Master was Capt. Basil Combe, who formally took command of C.S. Restorer on Jan 1, 1905. Capt. Combe had 20 years of cable work behind him, with destiny giving him almost 20 more, all on C.S. Restorer. This ship had many long-term crew members. Another one was Bill Pragnell who joined the ship in Singapore in 1904 as a cable splicer and was with the ship for many years. The next long term crew member added was Jack Robb, Chief Steward, who joined the ship in late March 1905, and who formerly was Purser on C.S. Scotia.
►January 20, 1903 – Due to recurring complaints of Japanese squatters and poachers, President Theodore Roosevelt places the island under the control of the Navy. Executive Order 199-A places Midway Islands “under the jurisdiction and control of the Navy Department.”
►March 28, 1903 – Scheme uncovered by LCMDR Charles F. Pond by Japanese steamship company Toyo Kisen Kaisha (Oriental Steamship Company), to establish a signal station and signal operators on Midway as soon as cable communication is established there.
►April 20, 1903 – About 30 people from the Commercial Pacific Cable Company arrive on Midway to begin constructing the cable station. They first erect temporary houses and then construct five permanent station buildings using steel beam supports and reinforced concrete, which is considered an innovative use of the modern material. The buildings provide an office for the cable operator; a mess and recreation hall; and quarters for the staff, servants, and a superintendent. The basements are used for support functions, such as storing provisions and housing the laundry and machine shop.
►April 22, 1903 – Cable Operations Report. The departure from the Thames on 4/8/1903 of C.S. Anglia, and on 4/9/1902 of C.S. Colonia, with the Honolulu-Midway-Guam-Manila Cable.
►May 2, 1904 – A detachment of the 10th Marines, consisting of 21 U.S. Marines, under the command of 2nd Lt. Clarence S. Owens. USMC, arrive to secure Midway as a U.S. possession, protect the cable staff and albatross from Japanese bird poachers.
The USMC unofficially stated that the 4 year-tour was sent to “maintain order among unrulely Japanese employees of Pacific Cable Company.”
A Brief History of the 10th Marines – 1
A Brief History of the 10th Marines – 2
►May 25, 1903 – Will Midway make a Naval Base
►June 3, 1903 – U.S. Navy ejects Japanese poachers and squatters and appoints Commercial Pacific Cable Company as island custodians. The Japanese squatters and poachers were killing seabirds for feathers that were popular for women’s hats.
►June 6, 1903 – GUAM to MIDWAY section: C.S. Colonia spliced on to the Guam shore end and commenced her lay to Midway carrying some 3183 miles of cable.
►June 18, 1903 – The ships C.S. Anglia and C.S. Colonia complete installing the undersea telephone cable between Guam and Midway, having paid out 2992 miles and work commenced on laying the shore end. Considerable difficulty was met with owing to the shallow water which made the pull a very heavy task but with the help of Captain Rodman of the U. S. Survey ship Iroquois who lent thirty men the final splice was affected on 6/22/1903 making a total of 3000 miles paid out from Guam.
►July 3, 1903 – HONOLULU to MIDWAY section: Anglia anchored off Honolulu having expended some 1513 miles en route and by the next day had laid the shore end and spliced on. The cable was then handed over to Mr. Gaines at Honolulu for the official “round the world” messages. The total length of cable expended, including intermediate and shore ends was 1532 miles.
►July 4, 1903 – The cable, which stretches from San Francisco to Honolulu to Midway to Guam to the Philippines, carries the first ‘around-the-world message’ and wishes “a happy Independence Day to the United States, its territories and properties.” The message takes 9 minutes to be received.
►July 15, 1903 – Cable Operations Report. Completion of the Midway-Honolulu Section on 4/7/1903 was reported, and that the whole of the line between San Francisco and the Philippines was expected to be opened for traffic on 7/20/1903, instead of the 15th, when the Tariff reductions recently announced for China, Hongkong, Japan, Philippines and by the Eastern and Great Northern routes would take effect. The Engineer’s Certificate of the satisfactory completion of the cable was submitted, and Authority was given for payment of the instalment of £50,000 due under the Contract.
►July 25, 1903 – Undersea Cable open for traffic.
►November 4, 1903 – Cable Operations Report. A telegram reporting the loss of a schooner chartered to take provisions, etc. to Midway Island was reported, as was the dispatch of a Government Vessel with another supply of provisions, and to bring away shipwrecked crew.
Added note: A letter was read from Mr. G. G. Ward forwarding the soundings taken by U.S.S. Pathfinder, for the proposed Manila-Shanghai Cable. It was considered advisable for the CPCC to point out to the Government the necessity for more soundings in places where rapid alteration of levels are shown by present service. U.S.S. Pathfinder (1) was launched 7/12/1898, was powered by 4,500′ of canvas and a triple expansion steam engine of 1,173HP. This ship spent most of its life charting waters in and around the Philippines, until it was sunk by Japanese bombing in December of 1941.
►May 1904 – About 20 U.S. Marines arrive to secure Midway as a U.S. possession and protect the cable staff and albatross from poachers.
►July 4, 1904 – Midway Island’s first baseball game played. US Marines & Pacific Cable Company employees vs. Contractors. The game was called a draw after 9 innings, score 11 to 11…and yes, there were ladies present cheering on.
As an update – Since 1996, the USFWS has outlawed baseball on the island, claiming the game is not compatible with wildlife. The former Baseball Field has been demolished.
►August 9, 1904 – Life for the Marines of Midway Island – Honolulu Advertiser Article
►December 8, 1904 – An Executive Order extended the jurisdiction of the Lighthouse Service to the noncontiguous territory of the Midway Islands. (Weiss, p. 18).
►September 22, 1905 – The U.S. Lighthouse Service illuminates the first lighthouse on Midway. Note: The Navy stationed a 20-man Marine unit there carrying out a number of projects including the building of a lighthouse on Sand Island and placed mooring buoys for docking ships. These Marine sentries marked the first time the United States garrisoned Midway with defensive intentions but it would not be the last.
The lighthouse soon was obscured by the quickly growing ironwood trees planted by the Cable Company personnel as a windbreak.
Wanted: any information about how long the Lighthouse operated before its removal.
►May 13, 1906 – Dr. Miller, USN, died at 5:20am on Midway and was buried in an area now referred to as the ‘Doctor’s Cemetery‘. This was the first naval death recorded at Midway. Four of six individuals buried there were doctors.
►1908 – Marine detachment was ordered away from Midway Island.
►July 30, 1909 – Dr. George Walter Hawkins died at Midway. He died of Heart Failure. He is one of four doctors buried at The Doctor’s Cemetery.
►July 27, 1910 – Philip Vernon Tinker died at Midway. He passed away diving into shallow waters of the Midway Lagoon. He died of a broken neck. He was 18 years old and is buried in The Doctor’s Cemetery.
►1917 – The U.S. Weather Bureau establishes a station on Midway.
►November 21, 1918 – Repair of Cables Neglected During War. The Nov. 21, 1918, issue of the Seattle Times stated in a cable related article that only 7 Pacific cables out of 21, all neglected by war driven priorities, were in serviceable condition. The war years looked on the CPCC’s cable with a benevolent eye, but the early part of 1919 saw the ship off the southern climes catch up on years of neglect. Early in 1919 the Restorer was off to do repairs on the line near Midway, where they ran into another typhoon. The CPCC was so alarmed by the very serious weather reports from other ships in the area that they almost despaired of seeing the ship again. The tough ship did return though. In 1920 the ship was again off to Midway where more repairs were done. Mr. H. Butler, the Cable Superintendent at Midway, his wife, and their two small children, all marooned on Midway for an unbroken 4½ years, were on board Restorer when it headed for home. The Butlers then headed for a well-earned and happy six-month holiday in Ireland.
►October 10, 1920 – The first aircraft to take flight from Midway. A U.S. Navy Curtiss N-9 seaplane, brought to Midway disassembled aboard the Eagle 40 (USN PE-40). Once there the seaplane was reassembled and conducted an aerial photographic mission to determine if Midway could be used as a base for transpacific flights. Because of the Washington Naval Treaty (1921-22), forbidding the fortifying of Midway, it wouldn’t be until 1938 that a seaplane base was established.
►January 2, 1920 – 1920 Federal Census Schedule / Hawaii Territory, Honolulu County, Midway Island Enumeration District 135 / pages 1A – 1B sheet 251 Enumerated by George H. Petty, January 2, 1920 / Commercial Pacific Cable Co., Midway Island Cable Station.
NAME AGE JOB
Butler, Henry P. 41 Superintendent
Butler, Flora B. 30 Wife
Butler, Henry, A. 7 Son
Butler, Thomas P. 4 Son
Kealy, William J. 39 Supervisor
Kealy, Loretta F. 26 Wife
Kealy, Loretta E. 4½ Daughter
Kealy, Genevieve F. 6½ Daughter
McAllister, Frank C. 24 Operator
Puralay, William G. 24 Operator
Heane, Geoffrey V. 32 Operator
Harrison, Phillip F. 22 Operator
Varney, Walter 48 Engineer
McFarlane, William 58 Battery Man
Hills, William B. 17 Operator
Macauly, Henry B. 54 Physician
Armstrong, Ralph R. 21 Operator
Zillack, William 25 Operator
Woon, Jong 42 Cook
Sing, Lau 26 2nd Cook
Siley, Lau 42 Servant
Yen, Ho 38 Servant
Hung, Tom 43 Servant
Kee, Lau 45 Laborer
Woo, Lau 40 Launderer
Poo, Chung 45 Servant
Yon, Lau 40 Launderer
Yorokibi, Shiotan 33 Laborer
Sakai, Miyano 38 Fireman
Ichiya, Kuroda 31 Laborer
Fukamida, Kokochi 41 Laborer
NOTE: US Federal Census 1910 & 1920 recognizes MIDWAY ISLAND belonging to Hawaii Territory, Honolulu County.
►1921 – U.S. Navy commenced using Midway Islands as a rendezvous for naval vessels on the East-West Pacific runs. Washington Naval Treaty (1921 -22) forbade fortifying Midway through commercial enterprises were authorized.
►November 28, 1921 – Dr. Henry Anthony DeBournonville Macauley died at Midway, at the age of 63. His cause of death is unknown. He is buried at The Doctor’s Cemetery.
►February 13, 1922 – Mark Lamonen died on a ship near Midway, at the age of 32. He passed away while onboard the Cable Repair Ship ‘Restorer’. He is buried at The Doctor’s Cemetery.
Seaman Mark Lamonon’s birth date and location are shown on Lamonon’s WWI draft registration card. At the time of his registration (7 Aug 1917), he was unmarried, living in Honolulu, employed as a laborer by the Inter Island Steamship Company. He was listed as Malaysian, an alien, citizen of Japan. He did not claim exemption from US military service. He was described as short of medium build, with brown eyes and dark hair. Inscription on gravestone: “In Memory of Seaman Mark Lamonon Native of Marshall Islands Who died at Midway February 13, 1922, erected by the officers and crew of the Cable Ship Restorer.
►January 1, 1923 – Cable Company blasted an entrance for an undersea cable, between Sand and Eastern Islands, in the south reef.
►1924 – Midway Islands were investigated by Commander Rodgers of the USS Pelican, as a seaplane base. Later, in the same year, Midway Islands were used as a rendezvous by the USS Seagull and eight submarines.
►1934 –Japan denounced the Washington Treaty (1922). Naval armament race was on.
►April 17, 1935 – First Pam Am Hawaii Flight Changed the World
►April 12, 1935 – Pan American Airways sets up an air base for weekly Trans-Pacific Flying Clipper Seaplane service and constructs a hotel on Sand Island. Midway becomes a regular fuel stop on a trans-Pacific route, including Honolulu, Wake Island, Guam, and Manila.
►April 22, 1935 – VP-6F, along with VPs 1F, 4F, 7F, 8F, 9F and 10F, participated in Fleet Problem XVI off Midway Island. The intent of the exercise was to give elements of the fleet an opportunity to become familiar with Midway and adjacent waters while practicing landing operations. Both the Army and Coast Guard took part in the problem. The exercises were marred by a series of crashes, two from VP-6F resulting in 12 deaths, and numerous instances of aircraft being forced down by mechanical difficulties and sinking (no casualties). The tenders supporting the fleet were found to be so slow that they had to be sent ahead of the main body so as not to delay the exercises. Anchorages designated for seaplane mooring with recommendations of strategic value. (Note especially for Midway Island [pgs. 291-297]: capable of handling up to 60 VP-type seaplanes)
►May 1935 – Fleet maneuvers conducted off Midway. Advance base established and amphibious operations were carried out.
►May 9, 1935 –The Navy dispatches 46 Consolidated P2Y flying boats to Midway Island on a secret mission. The greatest flight of Navy aircraft (5 squadrons of 46 seaplanes) makes its historic run to Midway Island. One of the 46 planes crashed into the sea, when they had gone to another aircraft in distress. Six airmen were killed. The empire of Japan is concerned, but for the US, “mum’s the word” for this maneuver.
►November 22-29, 1935 – Pan American Airways’ China Clipper makes the first trans-Pacific airmail flight from San Francisco to Honolulu, Midway, Wake, Guam, and Manila.
►June 26, 1936 – Midway Islanders organize the “Gooney Club” in honor of friendly birds.
►May 19, 1938 – USS Oglala and USS Beaver arrived at Midway with men and materials, from the Hawaiian Dredging Company, to dredge a channel for seagoing ships. They dredged a new channel, through the southern reef, between Eastern and Sand Islands. They also construct harbor and seaplane runways in the lagoon.
►November 1938 – Iceberg sighted near Midway Island. The iceberg apparently from Alaska made its way to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. “Old Salts” insist mid-Pacific iceberg must be sand spit” — Reference: Honolulu Advertiser April 5, 1939 & April 7, 1939
►January 23, 1939 – 1st “Ham” radio operator to rig up his own set on Midway. David P. Van Gieson given permission by Maj. Peter E. Bremel sets up Midway’s short wave radio. Reference: Honolulu-Star Bulletin Jan. 23, 1939 p.9
►April 25, 1939 – Public Law No. 76-43 authorizes the Navy to establish, develop, or increase naval aviation facilities on Midway.
►May 9, 1935 – The Navy dispatches 46 Consolidated P2Y flying boats to Midway Island on a secret mission. The greatest flight of Navy aircraft (5 squadrons of 46 seaplanes) makes its historic run to Midway Island. This maneuver was but one of many actively played out during the 1935 Pacific “War Games”. Unfortunately, there was a tragic ending for one of the planes on May 9th. One of the 46 planes crashed into the sea, when they had gone to another aircraft in distress. Six airmen were killed. The empire of Japan is concerned, but for the US, “mum’s the word” for this maneuver.
►1940 – The Navy contracts with Albert Kahn of Detroit to prepare standardized plans for barracks, mess halls, and hangars for various bases. He also provides plans for the officers’ housing, shops, storage buildings, and theater on Midway. Kahn is considered to be one of the country’s foremost industrial designers and known for his use of steel, reinforced concrete, and natural light to create comfortable and functional interior spaces.
►March 1940 – Construction of a naval air station begins. Private contractors start constructing land runways on Eastern Island and other infrastructure on Sand Island in preparation for possible hostilities.
►March 4, 1940 – USS Swan, a mine sweeper type aircraft tender, entered Midway lagoon by the new channel in the south reef.
►March 27, 1940 – USS Sirius arrived with men and materials for the construction of a Naval Air Station. Arrival of Lt. D. B. Ventres, USN, Naval representative in charge of the project, automatically relieved Cable Company superintendent of naval custody of Midway Islands.
►June 1940 – Marine Garrison returned to Midway Islands. By February of 1941 the garrison, under command of Lt. Col. Pepper, was 850 strong.
►July 18, 1940 – Arrival of part of U.S. Fleet for a surprise visit brought the attention of splendid results of the Cable Company’s planting program over about 1/6 of Sand Island. Under the Pacific Naval Air Base program, Midway began to fulfill its destiny as a strategic base in the Pacific.
►September 29, 1940, Sunday – Midway Detachment, Third Defense Battalion, Fleet Marine Force (Major Harold C. Roberts, USMC) arrives on Midway Island to begin construction of defenses. The marines are transported by cargo ship Sirius (AK-15) and light minelayers Pruitt (DM-22), Sicard (DM-21), and Tracy (DM-19).
►1941 – The Commercial Pacific Cable Company’s last superintendent on Midway begins his tenure. He remains on Midway during World War II, operating the cable for the Navy.
►February 13, 1941, Thursday – Light cruisers Brooklyn (CL-40), Philadelphia (CL-41), and Savannah (CL-42) and stores issue ship Antares (AKS 3) arrive at Midway with the remainder of the 3d Defense Battalion (Lieutenant Colonel Robert H. Pepper, USMC).
►August 1, 1941 – U.S. Naval Air Station Midway is commissioned, under the command of Commander Cyrill T. Simard, U.S. Navy, is established on Eastern Island.
►September 24, 1941 – U.S. intercepts intelligence between Tokyo and the Japanese Consulate General in Honolulu, asking spies to report positions of U.S. ships at Pearl Harbor.
►October 17, 1941, Friday – Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet (Admiral Husband E. Kimmel) sends two submarines to Midway and two to Wake on “simulated war patrols”
►November 5, 1941 – Admiral Yamamoto orders the attack on Pearl Harbor.
►November 9, 1941 – Pan American Clipper arrived, in-route to Washington, with Japanese Ambassador Kurusu and his secretary Yuki. Departed November 12 for the Peace Conference.
►November 26, 1941 – The Japanese First Air Fleet leaves Japan’s Kurile Islands for Hawai’i. The fleet takes a route rarely used by merchant ships, and avoids radio transmissions to remain undetected.
►November 27, 1941, Thursday – Admiral Harold R. Stark, Chief of Naval Operations, sends “war warning” message to commanders of the Pacific and Asiatic Fleets. General George C. Marshall, Army Chief of Staff, sends a similar message to his Hawaiian and Philippine Department commanders.
►November 28, 1941, Friday – Carrier Enterprise (CV-6) sails for Wake Island in TF 8 (Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr.) to ferry USMC F4Fs (VMF 211) to the atoll. Occasioned by the “war warning” of the previous day, the deployment is part of eleventh-hour augmentation of defenses at outlying Pacific bases. Halsey approves “Battle Order No. 1” (28 November) that declares that Enterprise is operating “under war conditions.” “Steady nerves and stout hearts,” the carrier’s captain concludes, “are needed now.” Supporting PBY operations will be carried out from advanced bases at Wake and Midway.
►November 30, 1941 – Japanese Midway Neutralization Unit (Captain Kaname Konishi) consisting of destroyers Ushio and Sazanami sent to attack Midway, from Tokyo Bay.
►December 1, 1941 – Operation Z: Japanese Navy Destroyer Division 7 sailed from Tokyo, Japan sailed for Midway, soon to join the rest of the Midway Neutralization Unit.
►December 2, 1941, Tuesday – Submarine Trout (SS-202) arrives off Midway Island on simulated war patrol.
►December 3, 1941, Wednesday – Submarine Argonaut (SS-166) arrives off Midway Island on simulated war patrol.
►December 5, 1941, Friday – Carrier Lexington (CV-2) in TF 12 (Rear Admiral John H. Newton) sails for Midway to ferry USMC SB2Us (VMSB 231) to that atoll. Like Enterprise (CV-6)’s deployment to Wake, Lexington’s to Midway is in response to the “War Warning” of 27 November.
Japan assures the U.S. that her troop movements in French Indochina are only precautionary.
►December 6, 1941 – In Washington D.C., U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt makes a final appeal to the Emperor of Japan for peace. There is no reply. Late this same day, the U.S. code-breaking service begins intercepting a 14-part Japanese message and deciphers the first 13 parts. The Americans believe a Japanese attack is imminent, most likely somewhere in Southeast Asia.
►December 7, 1941, Sunday, 7:55am – ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR
Pearl Harbor is a U.S. naval base near Honolulu, Hawaii, that was the scene of a devastating surprise attack by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. Hundreds of Japanese fighter planes descended on the base, where they managed to destroy or damage nearly 20 American naval vessels, including eight battleships, and over 300 airplanes. More than 2,400 Americans died in the attack, including civilians, and another 1,000 people were wounded. The day after the assault, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan.
Unarmed U.S. Army-chartered steam schooner Cynthia Olson is shelled and sunk by Japanese submarine I 26 about 1,000 miles northwest of Diamond Head, Honolulu, T.H., 33°42’N, 145°29’W. She is the first U.S. merchantman to be sunk by a Japanese submarine in World War II. There are no survivors from the 33-man crew or the two Army passengers.
Japanese Type A midget submarine attempts to follow general stores issue ship Antares (AKS-3) into the entrance channel to Pearl Harbor; summoned to the scene by the auxiliary vessel, destroyer Ward (DD-139), on channel entrance patrol, with an assist from a PBY (VP 14), sinks the intruder with gunfire and depth charges. Word of the incident, however, works its way with almost glacial slowness up the chain of command.
Army radar station at Opana Point, Oahu, soon thereafter detects an unusually large “blip” approaching from the north, but the operator reporting the contact is told not to concern himself with the matter since a formation of USAAF B-17s is expected from the west coast of the United States. The army watch officer dismisses the report as “nothing unusual.” The “blip” is the first wave of the incoming enemy strike.
Consequently, “like a thunderclap from a clear sky” Japanese carrier attack planes (in both torpedo and high-level bombing roles) and bombers, supported by fighters, totaling 353 planes from naval striking force (Vice Admiral Nagumo Chuichi) attack in two waves, targeting ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, and nearby military airfields and installations. Japanese planes torpedo and sink battleships Oklahoma (BB-37) and West Virginia (BB-48), and auxiliary (gunnery training/target ship) Utah (AG-16). On board Oklahoma, Ensign Francis G. Flaherty, USNR, and Seaman First Class James R. Ward, as the ship is abandoned, hold flashlights to allow their shipmates to escape; on board West Virginia, her commanding officer, Captain Mervyn Bennion, directs his ship’s defense until struck down and mortally wounded by a fragment from a bomb that hits battleship Tennessee (BB-43) moored inboard; on board Utah, Austrian-born Chief Water Tender Peter Tomich remains at his post as the ship capsizes, securing the boilers and making sure his shipmates have escaped from the fireroom. Flaherty, Ward, Bennion, Tomich and Bennion’s falling in action sets in motion a chain of events that will result in Mess Attendant First Class Doris Miller becoming the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross. Miller, a brawny, broad-shouldered former high school football player, is recruited to carry the mortally wounded captain from the bridge. Their egress temporarily blocked by fires; however, the men are compelled to remain on the bridge. Miller mans a .50-caliber machine gun and later tells interviewers modestly that he believes he may have damaged two low-flying Japanese planes. Sadly, Miller will not survive the war; he will perish with escort carrier Liscome Bay (CVE-56) on 24 November 1943 off the Gilberts.
Japanese bombs also sink battleship Arizona (BB-39); the cataclysmic explosion of her forward magazine causes heavy casualties, among them Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, Commander Battleship Division 1, who thus becomes the first U.S. Navy flag officer to die in combat in World War II. Both he and Arizona’s commanding officer, Captain Franklin van Valkenburgh, are awarded Medals of Honor, posthumously. In addition, the ship’s senior surviving officer on board, Lieutenant Commander Samuel G. Fuqua, directs efforts to fight the raging fires and sees to the evacuation of casualties from the ship; he ultimately directs the abandonment of the doomed battleship and leaves in the last boat. He was awarded the Medal of Honor.
When Arizona explodes, she is moored inboard the repair ship Vestal (AR-4); the blast causes damage to the repair ship, which has already been hit by a bomb. Vestal’s captain, Commander Cassin Young earns the Medal of Honor by swimming back to his ship after being blown overboard by the explosion of Arizona’s magazines and directing her beaching on Aiea shoal to prevent further damage in the fires consuming Arizona.
Battleship California (BB-44) is hit by both bombs and torpedoes and sinks at her berth alongside Ford Island; during the battle, Ensign Herbert C. Jones, USNR, organizes and leads a party to provide ammunition to the ship’s 5-inch antiaircraft battery; he is mortally wounded by a bomb explosion. Gunner Jackson C. Pharris, leading an ordnance repair party, is stunned by concussion of a torpedo explosion early in the action but recovers to set up an ammunition supply train, by hand; he later enters flooding compartments to save shipmates. Chief Radioman Thomas J. Reeves assists in maintaining an ammunition supply party until overcomes by smoke inhalation and fires; Machinist’s Mate Robert R. Scott, although his station at an air compressor is flooding, remains at his post, declaring “This is my station, and I will stay and give them [the antiaircraft gun crews] air as long as the guns are going.” Jones, Pharris, Reeves and Scott all receive the Medal of Honor (Jones, Reeves and Scott posthumously).
Japanese bombs damage destroyers Cassin (DD-372) and Downes (DD-375), which are lying immobile in Drydock No. 1.
Minelayer Oglala (CM-4) is damaged by concussion from torpedo exploding in light cruiser Helena (CL-50) moored alongside and capsizes at her berth; harbor tug Sotoyomo (YT-9) is sunk in floating drydock YFD-2. Contrary to some secondary accounts, Utah (a converted battleship) is not attacked because she resembled an aircraft carrier, she is attacked because, in the excitement of the moment, she looked sufficiently like the capital ship she once had been. Of the other sunken ships, California, West Virginia, Oglala, and Sotoyomo are raised and repaired; Cassin and Downes are rebuilt around their surviving machinery; all are returned to service. Oklahoma, although raised after monumental effort, is never repaired, and ultimately sinks while under tow to the west coast to be broken up for scrap. The hulks of Arizona and Utah remain at Pearl as memorials.
Battleship Nevada (BB-36), the only capital ship to get underway during the attack, is damaged by bombs and a torpedo before she is beached. Two of her men are later awarded the Medal of Honor: Machinist Donald K. Ross for his service in the forward and after dynamo rooms and Chief Boatswain Edwin J. Hill (posthumously) for his work in enabling the ship to get underway and, later, in attempting to release the anchors during the attempt to beach the ship.
Battleships Pennsylvania (BB-38), Tennessee (BB-43), and Maryland (BB-46), light cruiser Honolulu (CL-48), and floating drydock YFD-2 are damaged by bombs; light cruisers Raleigh (CL-7) and Helena (CL-50) are damaged by torpedoes; destroyer Shaw (DD-373), by bombs, in floating drydock YFD-2; heavy cruiser New Orleans (CA-32), destroyers Helm (DD-388) and Hull (DD-350), destroyer tender Dobbin (AD-3), repair ship Rigel (AR-11), and seaplane tender Tangier (AV-8), are damaged by near-misses of bombs; seaplane tender Curtiss (AV-4) is damaged by crashing carrier bomber; garbage lighter YG-17 (alongside Nevada at the outset) is damaged by strafing and/or concussion of bombs.
Destroyer Monaghan (DD-354) rams, depth-charges, and sinks Type A midget submarine inside Pearl Harbor proper, during the attack. This particular Type A may have been the one whose periscope harbor tug YT-153 attempts to ram early in the attack.
Light minelayer Gamble (DM-15) mistakenly fires upon submarine Thresher (SS-200) off Oahu, 21°15’N, 159°01’W.
Thresher mistakes Gamble for destroyer Litchfield (DD-336) (the latter ship assigned to work with submarines in the Hawaiian operating area), the ship with which she is to rendezvous. Gamble, converted from a flush-deck, four-pipe destroyer, resembles Litchfield. Sadly, the delay occasioned by the mistaken identity proves fatal to a seriously injured sailor on board the submarine, who dies four hours before the boat finally reaches port on the 8th, of multiple injuries suffered on 6 December 1941 when heavy seas wash him against the signal deck rail.
Carrier Enterprise (CV-6) Air Group (CEAG, VB 6 and VS 6) search flight (Commander Howard L. Young, CEAG), in two-plane sections of SBDs, begins arriving off Oahu as the Japanese attack unfolds; some SBDs meet their doom at the hands of Japanese planes; one (VS 6) is shot down by friendly fire. Another SBD ends up on Kauai where its radio-gunner is drafted into the local Army defense force with his single .30-caliber machine gun. Almost all of the surviving planes, together with what observation and scouting planes from battleship (VO) and cruiser (VCS) detachments, as well as flying boats (VP) and utility aircraft (VJ) that survive the attack, take part in the desperate, hastily organized searches flown out of Ford Island to look for the Japanese carriers whence the surprise attack had come.
Navy Yard and Naval Station, Pearl Harbor; Naval Air Stations at Ford Island and Kaneohe Bay; Ewa Mooring Mast Field (Marine Corps air facility); Army airfields at Hickam, Wheeler, and Bellows; and Schofield Barracks suffer varying degrees of bomb and fragment damage. Japanese bombs and strafing destroy 188 Navy, Marine Corps, and USAAF planes. At NAS Kaneohe Bay, Aviation Chief Ordnance man John W. Finn mounts a machine gun on an instruction stand and returns the fire of strafing planes although wounded many times. Although ordered to leave his post to have his wounds treated, he returns to the squadron areas where, although in great pain, he oversees the rearming of returning PBYs. For his heroism, Finn is awarded the Medal of Honor.
Casualties amount to: killed or missing; Navy, 2,008; Marine Corps, 109; Army, 218; Civilian, 68; Wounded: Navy, 710; Marine Corps, 69; Army, 364; Civilian, 35. One particular family tragedy prompts concern in the Bureau of Navigation (later Bureau of Naval Personnel) on the matter of brothers serving in the same ship, a common peacetime practice in the U.S. Navy. Firemen First Class Malcolm J. Barber and LeRoy K. Barber, and Fireman Second Class Randolph H. Barber, are all lost when battleship Oklahoma (BB-37) capsizes. The Bureau considers it in the “individual family interest that brothers are not put on the same ship in war time, as the loss of such a ship may result in the loss of two or more members of the family, which might be avoided if brothers are separated.” The Bureau, however, stops short of specifically forbidding the practice. On 3 February 1942, it issues instructions concerning the impracticality of authorizing transfers of men directly from recruit training to ships in which relatives are serving and urges that brothers then serving together be advised of the undesirability of their continuing to do so. Authorizing commanding officers to approve requests for transfers to facilitate separation, the Bureau directs in July 1942 that commanding officers of ships not forward requests for brothers to serve in the same ship or station. This is too late, however, to prevent the five Sullivan brothers from serving in light cruiser Juneau (CL-52) (see 13 November 1942). Acts of heroism by sailors, marines, soldiers, and civilians (from telephone exchange operator to yard shop worker), in addition to those enumerated above, abound. Among the civilians who distinguish themselves this day is Tai Sing Loo, the yard photographer, who has a scheduled appointment to take a picture of the marine Main Gate guards. During the attack, he helps the marines of the Navy Yard fire department fight fires in dry dock number one and later, in the wake of the morning’s devastation, delivers food to famished leathernecks.
Japanese losses amount to fewer than 100 men, 29 planes of various types and four Type A midget submarines. A fifth Type A washes ashore off Bellows Field and is recovered; its commander (Ensign Sakamaki Kazuo) is captured, becoming U.S. prisoner of war number one.
Japanese Naval Aviation Pilot First Class Nishikaichi Shigenori, from the carrier Hiryu, crash-lands his Mitsubishi A6M2 Type 0 carrier fighter (ZERO) on the island of Niihau, T.H. He surrenders to the islanders who disarm him and confiscate his papers but, isolated as they are, know nothing of the attack on Pearl Harbor. “Peaceful and friendly,” Nishikaichi is not kept in custody but is allowed to roam the island unguarded (see 9, 12-14 December).
First night recovery of planes in World War II by the U.S. Navy occurs when Enterprise turns on searchlights to aid returning SBDs (VB 6 and VS 6) and TBDs (VT 6) that had been launched at dusk in an attempt to find Japanese ships reported off Oahu. Friendly fire, however, downs four of Enterprise’s six F4Fs (VF 6) (the strike group escort) that are directed to land at Ford Island. Other Enterprise SBDs make a night landing at Kaneohe Bay, miraculously avoiding automobiles and construction equipment parked on the ramp to prevent just such an occurrence.
Damage to the battle line proves extensive, but carriers Enterprise and Lexington (CV-2) are, providentially, not in port, having been deployed at the eleventh hour to reinforce advanced bases at Wake and Midway. Saratoga (CV-3) is at San Diego on this day, preparing to return to Oahu. The carriers will prove crucial in the coming months (see Chapter VI, February-May 1942). Convinced that he has proved fortunate to have suffered as trifling losses as he has, Vice Admiral Nagumo opts to set course for home, thus inadvertently sparing fuel tank farms, ship repair facilities, and the submarine base that will prove invaluable to support the U.S. Pacific Fleet as it rebuilds in the wake of the Pearl Harbor disaster.
►December 7, 1941, Sunday – About 9 a.m. Washington D.C. time, U.S. officials decode the last part of the Japanese message, stating that diplomatic relations with the U.S. are to be broken off. About an hour later, another Japanese message is intercepted. It instructs the Japanese embassy to break off talks with the U.S. at 1 p.m. Washington time. The U.S. War Department then sends out an alert to Hawaii military officials. Technical delays prevent the alert from arriving until noon Hawaii time, four hours after the attack has already begun. Almost at the same time, Japanese warplanes strike the Philippines and two U.S. islands: Wake and Guam, which are later occupied. The Japanese also invade Thailand and Malaya. Later that month, Japanese troops invade Burma and Hong Kong.
► December 7, 1941, 6:30 am – World War II began for Midway. A Marine Garrison received word of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. At 6:42 p.m. A Marine Sentry sighted a flashing light out at sea and alerted the garrison. Three hours later, the Japanese destroyers Sazanami and Ushio opened fire, damaging the newly built seaplane hangar on Sand Island. The roof burst into flames but the steel superstructure remained usable. Happily, everyone inside managed to escape. The only casualty was destroying a Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat that remained inside the hangar and knocking out the Pan American direction finder. By freak mischance, a 4.7-inch round went through a ventilation port in the power and communications building which was considered bomb proof. It was made of reinforced concrete 3-6 feet thick with four generators and two boilers on the first floor. The second floor housed the Command Center where Marine Corps First Lieutenant George Cannon had a machine gun command post and telephone switchboard on the concussion deck between two roofs. The Japanese retired at 10 p.m., leaving four Midway defenders dead and 10 wounded.
►December 7, 1941, Sunday – Midway Island was bombarded by the “Midway Neutralization Unit,” a Japanese raiding force of (estimated) two cruisers and two destroyers. Return fire, from defense batteries, struck the Japanese’s ships and forced retirement under a smoke screen. Some damage to facilities on Midway Island was sustained and the following were killed by the Japanese’s bombardment: 1st. Lt. George H. Cannon, USMC Ens. Donald J. Kraker, USNR Pfc. Elmer R. Morrell, USMC F 2/C Ralph E. Tuttle, USN 1st. Lt. George H. Cannon, USMC, became the war’s first Marine Corps recipient of the Medal of Honor.
The Midway seaplane hangar and the hospital were hit and burned. The hospital burned completely, the seaplane hangar was badly damaged. Reinforcements for Midway were rushed from Hawaii.
The Midway Neutralization Unit (Captain Kaname Konishi) consisting of destroyers Ushio and Sazanami; Marine shore batteries (6th Defense Battalion) return the fire, claiming damage to both ships. One of the submarines deployed on simulated war patrols off Midway, Trout (SS-202), makes no contact with the enemy ships; the other, Argonaut (SS-166), is unable to make a successful approach, and Ushio and Sazanami retire from the area. Subsequent bad weather will save Midway from a pounding by planes from the Pearl Harbor Attack Force as it returns to Japanese waters.
SPECIAL NOTE: Japanese declaration of war [N.B.: the so-called “Fourteen Point message” is not a declaration of war; it merely declares an impasse in the ongoing diplomatic negotiations. The Imperial Rescript declaring a state of war between the Japanese Empire and the United States is not issued until the next day, in Tokyo. pwc] reaches Washington, D.C., after word of the attack on Pearl Harbor has already been received in the nation’s capital.
►December 8, 1941 – The United States Congress declared war (Pub.L. 77–328, 55 Stat. 795) on the Empire of Japan in response to that country’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and declaration of war the prior day. The Joint Resolution Declaring that a state of war exists between the Imperial Government of Japan and the Government and the people of the United States and making provisions to prosecute the same was formulated an hour after the Infamy Speech of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Following the U.S. declaration, Japan’s allies, Germany, and Italy, declared war on the United States, bringing the United States fully into World War II.
►December 8, 1941 – Cable connection from Midway to the Philippines closed and did not reopen until the war was over.
►December 11, 1941, Thursday – United States declares war on Germany and Italy.
►December 17, 1941, Wednesday – Small reconnaissance seaplane from Japanese submarine I 7 reconnoiters Pearl Harbor.
USMC SB2Us (VMSB 231), led by a plane-guarding PBY (VP 21) (no ships are available to plane-guard the flight), arrive at Midway, completing the longest over-water massed flight (1,137 miles) by single-engine aircraft. The squadron had been embarked in Lexington (CV-2) when the outbreak of war cancelled the projected ferry mission on 7 December 1941.
►December 18, 1941, Thursday – President Roosevelt signs Executive Order No. 8984 that provides that Commander in Chief U.S. Fleet will take supreme command of the operating forces of all Navy fleets and coastal frontier commands, and be directly responsible to the President. Congress passes First War Powers Act.
►December 24, 1941, Wednesday – Seaplane tender Wright (AV-1) disembarks Marine reinforcements (Batteries “A” and “C,” 4th Defense Battalion) at Midway.
►December 25, 1941, Thursday – Carrier Saratoga (CV-3) diverted from the attempt to relieve Wake Island, flies off USMC F2As (VMF 221) to Midway. These will be the first fighter aircraft based there.
►December 26, 1941, Friday – Seaplane tender Tangier (AV-8), diverted from the attempt to relieve Wake Island, disembarks Battery “B,” 4th Defense Battalion and ground echelon of VMF 221 at Midway to augment that garrison’s defenses.
►December 31, 1941, Wednesday – Admiral Chester W. Nimitz assumes command of Pacific Fleet in ceremonies on board submarine Grayling (SS-209) at Pearl Harbor.
Japanese submarines shell Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii.
In 1942, While attending Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA, Madeline Codina Huebner was recruited into a cryptology class with the promise of three college credits and a position in the Naval Reserves. After passing the course, she took the fast-track 60-day training course to become an ensign in the Reserves. She and other WAVES “kept odd hours in closed rooms and were told not to discuss our work with others.”
►1942 – While attending Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA, Madeline Codina Huebner was recruited into a cryptology class with the promise of three college credits and a position in the Naval Reserves. After passing the course, she took the fast-track 60-day training course to become an ensign in the Reserves. She and other WAVES “kept odd hours in closed rooms and were told not to discuss our work with others.”
Her unit received a commendation for breaking a Japanese communications code before the Battle of Midway, which allowed the U.S. Navy to ambush the Japanese Navy. She achieved the rank of Lt. Commander. Madeline passed away in December of 2011 and is interred at the Arlington National Cemetery.
►January 21, 1942 until February 8, 1942 – Offshore Japanese submarine I-69 reconnoiters and patrols the Midway Island area.
►January 25, 1942 – Japanese submarine I-73 shells Midway Island, causing little damage and no loss of life.
►January 27, 1942, Tuesday – Submarine Gudgeon (SS-211) torpedoes and sinks Japanese submarine I-73, 240 miles west of Midway, 28°24’N, 178°35’E.
►February 8, 1942, Sunday – Japanese submarine I-69, which has been reconnoitering the atoll since 21 January, shells Midway.
►February 10, 1942, Tuesday – Japanese submarine I-69 shells Midway but is immediately bombed and damaged by USMC F2As (VMF 221).
►March 1942 – March, Japanese plane reporting weather conditions near Midway, mentioned “AF,” suggesting strongly that the designator referred to Midway.
►March 10, 1942 – As part of a second K-Operation, H6K Mavis, piloted by Lieutenant Hashizume while attempting to photograph Midway Island over the target, shot down by a USMC F2A Buffalo.
►March 10, 1942, Tuesday – USMC F2As (VMF 221) from Midway shoot down Japanese reconnaissance flying boat (Yokosuka Kokutai) attempting to reconnoiter the atoll.
►April 1942 — Led by Lieutenant Commander Joseph Rochefort, the team of cryptanalysts and linguists made up the U.S. Navy’s Combat Intelligence Unit (better known as Station Hypo), had gotten so good at breaking Japan’s main operational code, which they dubbed JN-25b, that they were able to intercept, decrypt and translate parts of Japan’s radio messages within hours of when they were sent. / Unable to convince his superiors or Washington, his findings or mounting concerns were side-stepped and communicated directly to Admiral Nimitz.
►April 7, 1942 – The cable connecting Midway and Guam was severed to prevent any “subversive communication” as Japan gained strength in the Pacific.
►April 18, 1942 – “The Doolittle Raid”, also known as the Tokyo Raid, was an air raid on the Japanese capital Tokyo and other places on Honshu. It was the first air operation to strike the Japanese archipelago. Although the raid caused comparatively minor damage, it demonstrated that the Japanese mainland was vulnerable to American air attacks. It served as retaliation for the 7 December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and provided an important boost to American morale. The raid was planned by, led by, and named after Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle (later a Lieutenant General in the US Army Air Forces and the US Air Force Reserve). Under the final plan, 16 B-25B Mitchell medium bombers, each with a crew of five, were launched from the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet, in the Pacific Ocean, off Japan. There were no fighter escorts. After bombing the military and industrial targets, the crews were to continue westward to land in China. On the ground the raid killed about 50 people and injured 400. Damage to Japanese military and industrial targets was slight, but the raid had major psychological effects. In the United States, it raised morale. In Japan, it raised fear and doubt about the ability of military leaders to defend the home islands, but the bombing and strafing of civilians steeled Japanese resolve to gain retribution – this was exploited for propaganda purposes. The raid also pushed forward Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s plans to attack Midway Island in the Central Pacific – an attack that turned into a decisive defeat of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) by the US Navy in the Battle of Midway. The consequences of the Doolittle Raid were most severely felt in China, where Japanese reprisals caused the deaths of 250,000 civilians and 70,000 soldiers. Of the 16 USAAF crews involved, 14 complete crews of five returned to the United States or to US forces elsewhere – one crew was killed in action. Eight US aviators were captured by Japanese forces in Eastern China and three of these were later executed. All but one of the B-25s were destroyed in crashes, while the 16th landed at Vladivostok, in the Soviet Union. Because the Soviet Union was not officially at war with Japan, it was required, under international law, to intern the crew during the war, and their B-25 was confiscated. However, within a year, the crew was secretly allowed to leave the Soviet Union, under the guise of an escape – they returned to the United States, or to US units elsewhere, by way of Allied-occupied Iran and North Africa.
►May, 1942 — IJN radio traffic, intercepted suggested that Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the mastermind behind the Pearl Harbor attack, was preparing a major invasion, involving four Japanese aircraft carriers along with many other ships, at a location designated with the initials “AF.”
►May 1, 1942 – Chester Nimitz departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii and later in the day arrived at Midway Island.
►May 2, 1942, Saturday – Admiral Chester W. Nimitz visits Midway to informally inspect defenses and present decorations. He will leave the following day.
►May 3,1942, Sunday – Chester Nimitz departed Midway Atoll and returned to Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii, with the direct order to give anything available to beef up Midway’s defenses.
►May 3, 1942, Sunday – Light cruiser Nashville (CL-43) departs Pearl Harbor under orders to fuel at Midway and then proceed on a foray into the Japanese fishing grounds off the Kamchatka Peninsula. Submarines S-34 (SS-139) and S-35 (SS-140) are to operate in support.
►May 5, 1942, Tuesday -Japanese Imperial General Staff orders the Combined Fleet to assist in Army operations against Midway and the Aleutian Islands, Alaska.
►May 5, 1942, Tuesday – Countdown to the Battle of Midway: Nimitz awards pilot for defending Midway during inspection visit May 2-3, 1942.
►May 8, 1942, Friday – Light cruiser Nashville (CL-43) is damaged when she runs aground at Midway Island; she must return to Pearl Harbor for repairs. Her raiding cruise to Kamchatka is postponed.
►May – Mid-month, 1942 – Joe Rocheford and his team discuss how to validate “AF” as Midway. During this time Jasper Holmes’ familairity with Midway’s freshwater resupply and processing/desalination system, suggests to Rocheford sending a fake message via underwater cable to Midway, instructing personnel there to radio Pearl Harbor that the salt-water evaporators on the base had broken down.”
►May 19, 1942, Tuesday – Light cruiser Nashville (CL-43) sails independently from Midway, bound for the western Aleutians.
►May 20, 1942 — the trap is set.
►May 21, 1942 – Two weeks before the Battle of Midway found the defenders of Midway – 3,632 strong – had just two weeks to prepare for the invasion (Admiral Nimtz knew was coming). Some 120 planes jammed Eastern Island, 11 PT boats moved into the lagoon, 1,500 booby traps were set up on the beaches, barbed wire enmeshed the islands, and sandbags were piled everywhere. The whole garrison went underground, with the Navy and Marine command posts in dugouts in the middle of Sand Island. Gun emplacements lined the beaches. Molotov cocktails, made from old whiskey bottles, were stockpiled. By the end of May, everything that could be done was done.
►May 22, 1942 — Response by the IJN was picked up by Melbourne station. A Japanese message was intercepted that reported “AF” was running out of fresh drinking water.
►May 22, 1942 – A sailor accidentally set off a demolition charge under Midway’s gasoline supply. The explosion destroyed 400,000 gallons of aviation fuel, and damaged the distribution system, forcing the defenders to refuel planes by hand from 55-gallon drums.
►May 25, 1942, Monday – Light cruiser St. Louis (CL-49) arrives at Midway and disembarks Companies “C” and “D,” 2d Marine Raider Battalion, and 37-millimeter gun battery of the 3d Defense Battalion.
►May 26, 1942, Tuesday – Aircraft ferry Kitty Hawk (AKV-1) arrives at Midway with reinforcements for MAG 22, as well as the 3-inch antiaircraft group (3d Defense Battalion) and a light tank platoon earmarked for a mobile reserve.
►May 27 1942 – Operation “MI” – The Invasion of Midway Island:
Hashirajima. In the afternoon, Vice Admiral (Admiral, posthumously) Nagumo Chuichi’s (former CO of YAMASHIRO) First Air Fleet Striking Force (“Kido Butai”) CarDiv 1’s AKAGI and KAGA and CarDiv 2’s HIRYU and SORYU departed the fleet anchorage.
►May 28, 1942, Thursday – Japanese First Fleet, Main Body (Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku in battleship Yamato) allocated to the Midway operation sorties from home waters. The Second Fleet, Escort Force (Rear Admiral Tanaka Raizo), whose composition includes 15 transports, sails from Saipan; Second Fleet, Occupation Support force (Rear Admiral Kurita Takeo) sorties from Guam.
TF 16 (Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance), formed around carriers Enterprise (CV-6) and Hornet (CV-8), departed Pearl Harbor to take up position northeast of Midway.
►May 29, 1942, Friday – Hashirajima – The First Fleet’s Main Body consisting of BatDiv 1’s YAMATO, NAGATO and MUTSU departs with Supply Group No. 1’s oilers NARUTO and TOEI MARU and DesRon 3’s light cruiser SENDAI with nine destroyers. Seaplane/submarine tenders CHIYODA and NISSHIN and light carrier HOSHO are in the Main Body’s Special Force as reserve under the command of Captain (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Harada Kaku. The Main Body remains 300 miles behind Nagumo’s Striking Force.
CHIYODA: carries eight Type A midget submarines (HA-28, HA-29, HA-31, HA-32, HA-33, HA-34 and two others), about 150 men of the 12th Construction Battalion and 16 crewmen. NISSHIN carries torpedo boats No. 4 and No. 5. The Midway Invasion plan calls for the midget submarines to be stationed at Kure Island about 56 miles WNW of Midway. Lt (j.g.) Otozaka Shoichi, a member of the second midget training course, leads the Kure Island midget submarine unit.
The plan calls for the midget submarines to be landed on Kure Island on the afternoon of 6 June 1942. If Kure Island is found to be fortified by the Americans, Captain Harada is to form a Rikusentai (Naval Landing Force) of CHIYODA’s crew to occupy the island. Kure Island is then to also operate as a seaplane base for use against Midway. Later in June, four additional midget submarines are to be landed on the island.
Seaplane tender (destroyer) Ballard (AVD-10) arrives at Midway along with the eleven motor torpedo boats from Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron One (Lieutenant Clinton McKellar Jr.); the latter are assigned to local defense forces of Midway (Captain Cyril T. Simard).
►May – Late in the month, 1942 – Admiral Nimitz communicates to Midway’s Commanding Officer that Midway will be given anything they require to prepare for an assault / predicted for June 2, 1942.
►June, 1942 – A single B-17 piloted by Major George E. Gober. from the 5th Bomb Group (5th BG), 31st Bomb Squadron (31st BS) flies a solo reconnaissance of Wake Island and made two runs over the island before being intercepted by Japanese fighters and claimed four shot down and one probable during a 40 minute combat. Although slightly damage, this B-17 returned safely to land at Midway Air Field.
3 LB-30s bomb installations on Wake during the night of 26/27 Jun and is staged through Midway.
►June 2, 1942, Tuesday – TF 17 (Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher) and TF 16 (Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance) rendezvous about 350 miles northeast of Midway; Rear Admiral Fletcher is officer in tactical command of a force that consists of three carriers, seven heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, 16 destroyers, and two oilers. After fueling, the task force will detach the oilers and prepare for battle. As part of the pre-battle disposition, 25 fleet submarines (Rear Admiral Robert H. English) are deployed around Midway.
►June 3, 1942, Wednesday – In the preliminaries for the Battle of Midway, Midway-based aircraft locate and attack Japanese transports in the Second Fleet Escort Force about 600 miles west of Midway Island. USAAF B-17s inflict no damage. Four PBYs set out to attack the approaching Occupation Force. Japanese forces bearing down on Midway are under the personal direction of Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku, Commander in Chief Combined Fleet, who wears his flag in battleship Yamato.
MEANWHILE: As part of the overall Midway plan, Japanese Second Strike Force (Rear Admiral Kakuta Kikuji) bombs Dutch Harbor, Alaska; planes from carriers Ryujo and Junyo carry out the attack. In an event whose importance only becomes clear later, one Mitsubishi A6M2 Type 0 carrier fighter from Ryujo’s air group, most likely damaged by antiaircraft fire over Dutch Harbor, makes an emergency landing on Akutan Island. The pilot, however, is fooled by the flat surface upon which he is landing; it turns out to be a bog and the Zero flips over, killing the pilot (see 10 July).
►June 4-6, 1942 – Early on June 4, aircraft from four Japanese aircraft carriers, which had attacked Pearl Harbor 6 months earlier, attack and severely damage the base on Midway. After their initial attacks, the Japanese aircraft head back to their carriers to rearm and refuel, and while the aircraft are returning, the Japanese navy is surprised by U.S. naval forces in the area. Aircraft from the USS Enterprise, USS Hornet, and USS Yorktown attack the Japanese fleet. Three Japanese carriers are hit, set ablaze, and abandoned. A fourth Japanese carrier, the Hiryu, responds with two waves of attacks—both times bombing the USS Yorktown, leaving her severely damaged but still afloat. That afternoon, a USS Yorktown scout plane locates the Hiryu, and the USS Enterprise sends dive bombers to attack. The attack leaves the Hiryu burning and without the ability to launch aircraft. Over the next 2 days, the U.S. Navy forces the Japanese to abandon the battle and retreat to Japan. The Japanese lose approximately 4,800 men, four carriers, one cruiser, and hundreds of aircraft, while the United States loses about 307 men, one carrier, one destroyer, and over 100 aircraft. The Battle of Midway is considered the decisive battle of the war in the Pacific. After Midway, the Americans and their allies took the offensive in the Pacific arena.
►June 4, 1942 –The Battle of Midway Begins
0430, Nagumo launches a strike against Midway.
1025, as carriers AKAGI, KAGA and SORYU are preparing to launch strike against American carriers, they are attacked by “Dauntless” SBD dive-bombers from USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6) and YORKTOWN (CV-5) and all are set afire.
1035, HIRYU is attacked unsuccessfully by Douglas TBD “Devastator” torpedo bombers of VT-3 from YORKTOWN.
1054 and 1245, HIRYU launches strikes that heavily damage YORKTOWN.
1703, while preparing to launch yet another strike, HIRYU suffers hits by four SBDs from ENTERPRISE and YORKTOWN and is set afire.
1916, SORYU sinks by the stern followed at 1925 by KAGA that also sinks stern first.
►June 5, 1942 – Battle of Midway continues as TF 16 (Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance) pursues Japanese fleet, now without its central core of carriers, westward, while efforts proceed to try and salvage the crippled carrier Yorktown (CV-5). Motor torpedo boats from Midway fail to locate “burning Japanese carrier” located by Midway-based planes.
Japanese carrier Akagi, damaged on 4 June, is scuttled by destroyers Nowaki, Arashi, and Hagikaze, 30°30’N, 179°08’W; carrier Hiryu, likewise damaged on 4 June, is scuttled by destroyers Kazegumo and Yugumo, 31°38’N, 178°51’W. Heavy cruisers Mogami and Mikuma are damaged in collision while turning to avoid shadowing submarine Tambor (SS-198), while retiring from Midway (see 6 June).
0255, the C-in-C, Combined Fleet, Admiral (Fleet Admiral, posthumously) Yamamoto Isoroku (former CO of AKAGI) sends a signal from flagship YAMATO that cancels the invasion of Midway. Captain Harada receives the signal and orders CHIYODA, NISSHIN and HOSHO to set course westward.
0510, HIRYU is scuttled by an IJN destroyer.
0520, the burning hulk of AKAGI is scuttled by torpedoes from IJN destroyers and sinks bow first. The Main Body joins up with the remnants of the retiring Striking Force. MUTSU takes aboard about one-half of the survivors from AKAGI, KAGA, SORYU and HIRYU picked up earlier by DesRon 10’s destroyers.
►June 6, 1942, Saturday – Battle of Midway concludes as planes from carriers Enterprise (CV-6) and Hornet (CV-8) attack retiring Japanese force. SBDs bomb and sink heavy cruiser Mikuma (30°00’N, 173°00’E); near-misses damage destroyers Asashio and Arashio. At Admiral Spruance’s expressed orders (because of the destruction of three torpedo squadrons on 4 June), TBDs (VT 6) that accompany the strike do not attack because of the antiaircraft fire from the Japanese ships. After recovering planes, TF 16 changes course to eastward to refuel and breaks contact with the enemy.
Meanwhile, Japanese submarine I-168 interrupts salvage operations on Yorktown (CV-5), which is under tow of the tug (ex-minesweeper) Vireo (AT-144) and screened by destroyers, torpedoing Yorktown and torpedoing and sinking destroyer Hammann (DD-412) while she lies alongside the carrier (30°36’N, 176°34’W). Screening destroyers depth-charge I-168, but the Japanese boat, although damaged, escapes destruction.
The Battle of Midway, one of the most decisive battles in naval history, marks the turning point of the Pacific War. In the wake of the battle, efforts to locate downed aviators persist over the ensuing days.
0410, a lookout of Cdr Tanabe Yahachi’s I-168’s spots YORKTOWN 12 miles away. For nine hours, Tanabe skillfully makes his approach.
1331, he fires five torpedoes. Two strike the already damaged YORKTOWN, but she still does not sink.
►June 7, 1942 – LB-30 Liberator AL589 piloted by Major General Clarence L Tinker, Commanding Officer (C. O.) 7th Air Force is lost leading a mission from Midway for a predawn bombing mission against Wake.
►June 7, 1942 – 0458, YORKTOWN rolls over to port and sinks in about 18,000 feet of water.
►June 7, 1942 – The Battle of Midway Ends – One of the most decisive U.S. victories in its war against Japan—comes to an end. In the four-day sea and air battle, the outnumbered U.S. Pacific Fleet succeeded in destroying four Japanese aircraft carriers with the loss of only one of its own, the Yorktown, thus reversing the tide against the previously invincible Japanese navy.
In six months of offensives, the Japanese had triumphed in lands throughout the Pacific, including Malaysia, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines, and numerous island groups. The United States, however, was a growing threat, and Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto sought to destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet before it was large enough to outmatch his own. A thousand miles northwest of Honolulu, the strategic island of Midway became the focus of his scheme to smash U.S. resistance to Japan’s imperial designs. Yamamoto’s plan consisted of a feint toward Alaska followed by an invasion of Midway by a Japanese strike force. When the U.S. Pacific Fleet arrived at Midway to respond to the invasion, it would be destroyed by the superior Japanese fleet waiting unseen to the west. If successful, the plan would eliminate the U.S. Pacific Fleet and provide a forward outpost from which the Japanese could eliminate any future American threat in the Central Pacific.
At the Battle of Midway, Japan lost four carriers, a cruiser, and 292 aircraft, and suffered 2,500 casualties. The U.S. lost the Yorktown, the destroyer USS Hammann, 145 aircraft, and suffered 307 casualties. Japan’s losses hobbled its naval might–bringing Japanese and American sea power to approximate parity–and marked the turning point in the Pacific theater of World War II. In August 1942, the great U.S. counteroffensive began at Guadalcanal and did not cease until Japan’s surrender three years later.
►June 8, 1942, Monday – Tug Vireo (AT-144) is damaged by grounding, Midway.
►June 9, 1942, Tuesday – Submarine Trout (SS-202) picks up two survivors from sunken Japanese heavy cruiser Mikuma.
►June 10, 1942, Wednesday – Carrier Saratoga (CV-3) in TF 11 (Rear Admiral Aubrey W. Fitch) makes rendezvous with TF 16 and transfers planes to bring carriers Enterprise (CV-6) and Hornet (CV-8) up to strength.
►June 14, 1942 – CHIYODA and her embarked midget submarines return to Hashirajima with the Main Body.
 Kure Island, better known as Ocean Island, is about 6 miles in diameter and is the northernmost coral atoll in the world at 28-25N. It lies 1,200 miles NW of Honolulu and is the oldest and westernmost exposure of the Hawaiian Islands chain of volcanoes.
 Author/historian Kimata Jiro notes the midget submarines’ mission was to attack any future US invasion force en route to Midway. Kimata adds the idea to use the midget submarines as a defensive weapon was a complete reversal from their original tactical purpose.
 CHIYODA later delivers midget submarines HA-28, HA-29, HA-31, HA-32, HA-33 and HA-34 to Kiska, Aleutians.
►June 19, 1942 – The first Japanese combatants from the Battle of Midway to set foot on Midway Island. Although not quite the way they wanted.
Pictured here: Japanese prisoners of war under guard on Midway, following their rescue from an open lifeboat by USS Ballard (AVD-10), on June 19, 1942. They were survivors of the sunken aircraft IJN carrier Hiryu. After being held for a few days on Midway, they were sent on to Pearl Harbor on June 23, aboard USS Sirius (AK-15).
►June 19, 1942, Friday – Seaplane tender (destroyer) Ballard (AVD-10), directed to the scene by a PBY (VP 11), rescues 35 survivors (one of whom dies shortly after rescue) from Japanese carrier Hiryu that had been scuttled by destroyers Kazegumo and Yugumo on 5 June. They had been members of the engineering department, left below for dead in the abandonment of the ship.
►June 21, 1942, Sunday – PBY (VP 24) recovers two-man crew from Enterprise (CV-6) TBD (VT 6) 360 miles north of Midway. Their plane had to land in the water on 4 June; these are the last survivors of the Battle of Midway to be recovered.
►June 25, 1942, Thursday – Carrier Saratoga (CV-3) ferries 25 USAAF P-40s (73d Fighter Squadron) to Midway to provide fighter defense for the atoll, after the heavy losses suffered by VMF 221 during the Battle of Midway on 4 June. Saratoga also brings in 18 SBDs to bring VMSB 241 (also badly battered at Midway) up to strength.
SPECIAL NOTE: President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill conclude conference in Washington; decision is reached for combined U.S.-British research and development of the atomic bomb.
►June 30, 1942, Tuesday – XPBS-1 transporting Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet, and his staff to San Francisco crashes upon landing off Alameda, California. Nimitz suffers scratches and abrasions in the mishap but remains topside on the wreckage to direct rescue operations, refusing to leave that post until the wrecked flying boat has been searched for survivors.
GENERAL ACCOUNTING (Pacific Assets): Naval vessels on hand (all types of ships and craft) –5,612. Personnel: Navy–640,570; Marine Corps–143,528; Coast Guard–58,998. Total personnel–843,096.
►July 13, 1942, Monday – Japanese Combined Fleet is reorganized in the wake of the disastrous defeat suffered at Midway.
►July 15, 1942, Wednesday – The submarine base at Midway is commissioned. The base was of great strategic importance in the entire Pacific arena and of operational importance to submarines based at Pearl Harbor.
►July 17, 1942 – Because of their losses during the Battle of Midway, it is announced Japan’s naval forces have lost its offensive strategic goals.
*What wasn’t known was that Japan’s naval forces were reorganizing and another plan for occupying Midway was being considered.
Additional Info from The Honolulu Advertiser
►July 27, Mon, 1942 – Light cruiser Boise (CL-47) departs Pearl Harbor to proceed, via Midway, toward the Japanese home islands to emit enough radio traffic to create the impression of an approaching American task force, as well as to locate and destroy small patrol vessels operating off Honshu.
►July 29, 1942 – Naval Operating Base, Midway Islands, was established, by order of the Secretary of the Navy.
►July 31, 1942 – One B-17 from Midway fly’s photo reconnaissance of Wake. The B-17 is Intercepted by 6 fighters; in the ensuing fight US gunners claim 4 fighters destroyed.
►August 5, 1942, Wednesday – Light cruiser Boise (CL-47), in the course of her deception mission, launches two SOCs to search the area. Despite repeated efforts to do so, however, the planes do not find the ship upon their return. Radio silence is broken, thus compromising the operation, and the ship returns to Pearl Harbor, but the Japanese believe that a major U.S. task force is close to the homeland.
►September 9, 1942, Wednesday – Small reconnaissance seaplane from Japanese submarine I-25 drops incendiary bombs on forest near Mount Emily, ten miles northeast of Brookings, Oregon, in an attempt to ignite forest fires. It is the first time a Japanese aircraft has bombed the continental United States during World War II. The bombing is reported by a forest ranger.
►September 29, 1942, Tuesday – Small reconnaissance seaplane from Japanese submarine I-25 drops incendiary bombs on a forest in southern coastal Oregon–the second and last time a Japanese aircraft will bomb the continental United States during World War II in an attempt to ignite forest fires.
►October 31, 1942, Saturday – While en route to from French Frigate Shoals to Midway, district patrol craft YP-345 is lost without trace to unknown causes, about 80 miles northeast of Laysan Island.
►December 22, 1942 – At 4:30pm twenty-six B-24s from 307th Bombardment Group (307th BG) took off from Midway Airfield and climbed to 10,000′ for a night bombing mission against Wake Island. The bombers include B-24D “Bundles For Japan” 41-23969, B-24D “The Bad Penny” 41-23899 and B-24D “Flying Gator” 41-23898. After crossing the international dateline, the bombers arrived over the target on December 23, 1942 from midnight until 12:40am, the B-24s bombed one of nine targets from 4,000′ making a single bomb run. The B-24s were armed with five 500-pound general purpose bombs, with some fused with 1/10 second delay fuses for specific targets, the rest with instantaneous fuses. The Japanese appeared to be caught off guard and did not offer a coordinated defense, with anti-aircraft fire and search lights not beginning until the raid began and described as light and mostly from machine guns with some heavy anti-aircraft guns. Search lights did not seem to be coordinated with anti-aircraft fire and caught only a quarter of the formation in their beams. Four enemy aircraft were believed to be in the air but did not intercept. Afterwards, the formation climbed to 10,000′ and flew westward crossing the international dateline and arrived over Wake Island after midnight on December 23, 1942, with clear visibility. The B-24s bomb nine different targets between midnight until 12:40am. The defending Japanese seemed to be caught off guard and did not offer a coordinated defense and anti-aircraft fire and search lights did not commence until the raid began and were described as light and mostly from machine guns with some 20mm anti-aircraft fire and heavy anti-aircraft fire. Search lights did not seem to be coordinated with anti-aircraft fire and caught only a quarter of the formation in their beams. Four enemy aircraft were believed to be in the air but did not intercept. Returning, the formation climbed to 10,000′ and crossed the international dateline then returned to land at Midway Airfield on.
►December 23, 1943 – Between 5:50am to 7:30am. None of the bombers sustained serious damage (aside from two with superficial damage) or injuries to crews. In total, this mission spanned over 4,300 nautical miles and reported in the press as a “Christmas Eve” raid.
►January 1, 1943 – Sand Island landing field, composing of three landing strips, was completed and ready for use.
►May 15, 1943, Saturday – Seven B-24’s from Midway bomb Wake; 4 others abort and 7 others fail to find the target. 22 fighters intercept the formation; the B-24’s claim 4 shot down; 1 B-24 is lost.
►May 15, 1943, Saturday – TRIDENT Conference begins, with President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, and the Combined Chiefs of Staff meeting in Washington, D.C
►May 27, 1943, Thursday – Submarine Runner (SS-275) departs Midway for her third war patrol. She is never heard from again.
►July 24, 1943 – Eight B-24’s from Midway attack Wake Island, bombing oil storage, barracks, and a gun emplacement. 20-30 Zekes attack the formation; 9 fighters are claimed destroyed; 1 B-24 is lost in a collision with a falling Japanese fighter.
►July 26, 1943 -The last mission against Wake from Midway. Eight B-24’s from Midway bomb targets including oil storage area. 20+ fighters (including an aircraft identified as a FW-190) intercept the formation. The B-24’s claim 11 of the fighters shot down.
►August 20, 1943, Friday – Submarine Pompano (SS-181) departs Midway on her seventh war patrol. She is never heard from again.
►January 3, 1944, Monday – Submarine Scorpion (SS-278) departs Midway for her fourth war patrol. She will rendezvous with Herring (SS-233) on 5 January, but will never be seen again.
►October 28, 1944, Saturday – A U.S. submarine made a fueling stop at Midway Atoll in the Pacific, then headed west and was never seen again. Ten days later, an underwater explosion occurred off Japan’s Hokkaido Island near a mine barrier. Those two events have long been thought related, but without physical evidence, there was no way to know for sure.
UPDATE – Apr. 15, 2023 – Yahoo New Article – After 79 years, the story of the Groton-built USS Albacore finally has an ending. The wreckage found last year near the blast site has been identified by the Navy as the missing submarine. That development, announced in February, completes the biography of a vessel that had stunning success in World War II. The news also adds a detail to Electric Boat’s wartime history and brings conclusion for the families of the 85 men lost.
►January 8 – 21 February 21, 1944 – Chanticleer-class submarine rescue vessel MACAW (ASR-11) grounded at entrance to Midway channel, while attempting to rescue submarine USS Flier (SS-250) which had grounded on the coral reef. USS Clamp (ARS-33), arriving 24 January, placed a crew on board Macaw after Flier was freed from the reef. Three separate attempts were made to refloat Macaw and pull her off, all without success and sank. During the sinking her commanding officer, Paul Burton, and four crewmen died after abandoning ship. Later, crew from the USS Shackle (ARS-9) worked on the site through 9 September 1944. A total of 1,086 diving hours were spent salvaging equipment and materials and placing demolition charges. More than two and one-half tons of explosives were used.
►January 16, 1944, Sunday – Submarine Flier (SS-250) runs aground and is damaged as she transits channel at Midway Island; submarine rescue vessel Macaw (ASR-11) becomes stranded as she attempts to assist the stranded fleet boat.
►January 22, 1944, Saturday – At Midway, efforts to refloat submarine Flier (SS-250) succeed, and she is taken in tow by submarine rescue vessel Florikan (ASR-9); submarine rescue vessel Macaw (ASR-11), however, remains stranded.
►January 30, 1944, Sunday – PB2Ys (VP 13, VP 102) from Midway Island carry out nocturnal bombing raid on Wake Island to neutralize Japanese airfield installations there that could threaten the imminent Marshalls operations. Motor torpedo boats Gyoraitei No.5 and Gyoraitei No.6 are sunk during the raid. The strike marks the first time that Coronados are used as bombers, and strikes are repeated on the nights of 4, 8, and 9 February.
►February 4, 1944, Friday – To affect the neutralization of Wake during the Marshalls operation, two squadrons of Coronados from Midway made the second of four night bombing attacks on Wake, a 2,000-mile round trip.
►February 8, 1944, Tuesday – To affect the neutralization of Wake during the Marshalls operation, two squadrons of Coronados from Midway made the third of four night bombing attacks on Wake, a 2,000-mile round trip.
►February 9, 1944, Wednesday – To affect the neutralization of Wake during the Marshalls operation, two squadrons of Coronados from Midway made the fourth of four night bombing attacks on Wake, a 2,000-mile round trip.
►February 12, 1944, Saturday – Submarine rescue vessel Macaw (ASR-11), stranded at entrance to Midway Channel since 16 January, slips off the reef and [begin to sink, going under following day].
►February 21 – June 1944 – John Herschel Glenn Jr. (July 18, 1921 – December 8, 2016), was an American aviator in the United States Marine Corps, engineer, astronaut, businessman, and politician. He was the third American in space, and the first American to orbit the Earth, circling it three times in 1962. Following his retirement from NASA, he served from 1974 to 1999 as a Democratic United States Senator from Ohio; in 1998, he flew into space again at age 77.
When the United States entered World War II, Glenn quit college to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was not called to duty by the Army, and enlisted as a U.S. Navy aviation cadet in March 1942. Glenn attended the University of Iowa in Iowa City for pre-flight training and made his first solo flight in a military aircraft at Naval Air Station Olathe in Kansas, where he went for primary training. During advanced training at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in Texas, he accepted an offer to transfer to the U.S. Marine Corps. Having completed his flight training in March 1943, Glenn was commissioned as a second lieutenant. After advanced training at Camp Kearny, California, he was assigned to Marine Squadron VMJ-353, which flew R4D transport planes from there. The fighter squadron VMO-155 was also at Camp Kearny flying the Grumman F4F Wildcat. Glenn approached the squadron’s commander, Major J. P. Haines, who suggested that he could put in for a transfer. This was approved, and Glenn was posted to VMO-155 on July 2, 1943, two days before the squadron moved to Marine Corps Air Station El Centro in California. The Wildcat was obsolete by this time, and VMO-155 re-equipped with the F4U Corsair in September 1943. He was promoted to first lieutenant in October 1943, and shipped out to Hawaii in January 1944.
VMO-155 became part of the garrison on Midway Atoll on February 21 – June 1944. Then moved to the Marshall Islands in June 1944 and flew 57 combat missions in the area. He received two Distinguished Flying Crosses and ten Air Medals.
►August 1944 – After the Battle of Midway, extensions to Sand Island’s landing strips were completed, and large land-plane activity shifted from Eastern Island to Sand Island. Sand Island. The airfield becomes an important stopover for aircraft transiting to the war zone as it pushes further east.
►September 16, 1944 – A sand stabilization program was set up. Planting of shrubs, grass and trees commenced.
►September 23, 1944, Saturday – Submarine Escolar (SS-294) departs Midway for first war patrol.
►20 December 20, 1944, Wednesday – Dragonet, on her maiden war patrol, eventually managed to clear the reef, and after a passage fraught with difficulty (including, at one point, a 63-degree port list), reached Midway.
►December 26, 1944, Tuesday – Submarine Swordfish (SS-193) departs Midway for thirteenth war patrol. Contact is made with Swordfish on 3 January 1945, but she is never seen again.
►October 1944 – Naval Air Transport Service was set up on Sand Island.
►November 12, 1944 – USO comes to Midway
Featuring Betty Hutton
reference: [communication from Andrew W. Stohrer to Bernice “Bunny” Stohrer (wife), November 12, 1944]
picture from the book: “Storm of Eagles: The Greatest Aviation Photographs of World War II” by John Dibbs, Kent Ramsey, Robert “Cricket” Renner (pg. 206)
►1945 – During this period, air activity on Eastern Island began to slow down and a gradual shift to Sand Island took place. During the period, subsequent to July 29, 1942, the Submarine Base came to its peak of utility.
►August 14, 1945, Tuesday – Japan surrendered and later signed the formal surrender document on September 2, 1945. The ceremony was performed in Tokyo Bay, Japan, aboard the battleship USS Missouri. World War II officially ended. Consequently, flight activity on Eastern Island began to slow down and a gradual airbase shift to Sand Island took place.
►September 2, 1945, Sunday -Japanese surrender documents are signed on board battleship Missouri (BB-63) at anchor in Tokyo Bay. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur signs for the Allied Powers; Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz signs for the U.S.
►October 7, 1945, Sunday – Midway began demobilization. Buildings were nailed up. Eastern Island was abandoned.
Troop and facilities demobilization began on Midway. The islands were placed in “caretaker status,” requiring less than 300 men stationed there for Sand Island base maintenance and potential air and sea rescues. Unused buildings were boarded up. Eastern Island facilities were abandoned soon thereafter.
►August 13, 1946 – The first male child was born on Midway Island. Richard Thor Holmes was born to Mrs. Elaine D. Holmes and Lt. Col. M.D. Holmes, USMC, the Commanding Officer of the Marine Barracks, Midway Island.
►September 17, 1946 – The first female child was born on Midway Island. Jennifer Kathleen Ayers was born to Mrs. Majorie Mae Ayers and Aviation Chief Ordnance-man Gordan K. Ayers, attached to the U.S. Naval Air Station, Midway Island.
►1946 – The cables were developing serious faults. Over a million dollars was spent on repairs, but the company was unable to maintain a viable service.
►January 1, 1947 – July 29, 1947 – New cable laying project Honolulu -Midway-Philippines.
►March 1947 – C.S. Restorer left Honolulu for Midway, fighting a really vicious typhoon all the way. Being very young then, this writer involved some risk and took some spectacular pictures of the Restorer making like a destroyer in a grade B Hollywood patriotic type movie. There were times when the foredeck was under solid water. Later, in a very cautious venture to the stern railing, both propellers were seen completely out of the water, and then racing at which times the main engine governors locked. They had to be hammered to get them to release. When the stern came down very hard, the force of the propellers hitting the water would sometimes cause the engines to turn briefly in the opposite direction. The ship was both plunging and rolling very badly. Once, it rolled from 37 deg. on one side to 37 deg. on the other side. Due to the terrible pounding, some linkage in the steam powered steering gear broke, and the ship had to be steered by the big manual wheel in the stern until repairs were made. Both main engines broke down separately with bearing problems caused by the pounding they were taking. Some 800 miles away in the same typhoon, a wartime built T2 tanker broke up and sank, but Restorer eventually made it to Midway to do some cable work. While at Midway, Restorer was written up in two issues of The Midway Mirror – Sage of the Islands, a locally produced paper.
Before leaving Midway, Restorer had to buy Bunker A Navy Fuel to replenish its tanks greatly diminished after fighting the typhoon. Trouble with the water evaporator required us to buy distilled water from the U. S. Navy. The single riveted coal bunkers were no problem when converted to Bunker C Fuel but leaked ‘like a sieve’ with Bunker A Fuel, and we were constantly wiping up the leakage.
►May 29, 1947 – The first child, in recorded history, graduated from Elementary School on Midway Island, her name was Nellie Leo Ganci.
►September 1947 – Pan American Airways discontinues its operations on Midway. The Civil Aeronautics Authority takes over the maintenance and operation of airport facilities at Midway, Wake Island, and Guam, and the facilities become part of the federal airways and links in the air routes over the Pacific. https://www.midway-island.com/history/pan-american-airlines/
►May 1, 1950 – The Civil Aeronautics Authority ceases airport operations on Midway because of the Navy’s decision to withdraw from the island.
►May 30, 1950 – Fire destroys Dispensary Building on Midway.
►June 6, 1950 – Midway Naval Air Station was deactivated. Twenty Pan Am employees, plus a few Pacific Commercial Cable Company workers, remained to “guard the islands’ deserted buildings.”
►June 7, 1950 – Midway Naval Air Station & Midway Naval Operating Base, are formally inactivated and placed into caretaker status.
►August 1, 1950 – Dr. Edward Kilbourne Tullidge died at Midway, at the age of 60. He is buried in The Doctor’s Cemetery. Dr Edawrd Kilbourne Tullidge MD (headstone incorrectly marked Dr B K Tullidge MD) / was born in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, studied in London, engaged in Red Cross Work in 1916, also spent time in Mexico practicing medicine for several years. He spent time working as physician (ship surgeon) on various ships, although he was not Navy, married Vera Murray Campbell in 1946, and passed in 1950. Cause of death unknown
Note: His death in August 1950, occurred during a period when the Naval base was closed down after World War II. All Navy personnel were supposed to have been off the island by June. It is possible that he stayed longer to provide medical support to the Cable Company staff.
►August 1, 1950 – Seemingly overnight, Midway was reactivated in support of Korean War airlift operations as an aircraft refueling and servicing base. Oil, airplane fuel and other provisions were stockpiled at Midway to keep its generators and facilities functioning, and buildings were reopened and remodeled. An office building was renovated as a 62-bed “air evacuation holding ward hospital.” As the “war” progressed, thousands of troops on ships and planes stopped at Midway for refueling and emergency repairs. (NAS) Naval Air Station is ordered by Navy to reactivate its operations on Midway.
►September 10, 1950 – Navy Douglas R5D-3 “Skymaster” crashes into the sea off of Midway, 7 crewmen rescued.
►1951 – The Federal Communications Commission issues an order authorizing permanent discontinuance of all operations of the Commercial Pacific Cable Company’s route between San Francisco and Manila.
►December 4, 1951 – Liquidation of CPCC (Indemnification Agreement), the CPCC was dissolved as a corporation.
►December 31, 1952 – The Pacific Commercial Cable Company ceased operations on Midway and turned over all its buildings and equipment to the US Navy.
►April 1953 – The Navy deactivates the Naval Air Station on Midway as hostilities in Korea decrease.
►July 1953 – The Navy reactivates the naval air station on Midway in reaction to Soviet bombers flying across the Pacific, sparking the era of “Cold War” hostilities. To protect the United States and keep track of the Soviet planes, construction begins on the Distant Early Warning Line—a network of radar picket ships to give a distant early warning of aircraft or missile attack on North America.
►September 1954 – John Ford, who at the request of the US Navy had filmed documentary footage during the Battle of Midway, returned to Sand Island for the filming of Mister Roberts. The light cargo ship USS Hewell sailed from Honolulu and moored at the naval base to double for the fictional USS Reluctant. Many of the film’s exteriors were shot aboard the Hewell and off Midway’s harbor.
►August 28, 1955 – The first twins, in recorded history, were born on Midway Island. Parents were Mrs. Polly Worsley and John Worsley.
►1957 – A major building program was begun to create a Pacific airborne early warning base.
►1957 – A $40 million construction program begins as Midway becomes a home for the Pacific Airborne Early Warning portion of the Distant Early Warning Line (DEW), known as the Pacific Barrier or DEW Line. Navy construction units (Seabees) complete an 8,000-foot runway for the heavy aircraft landing on Midway and build an aircraft hangar large enough to hold six aircraft. During this construction, the Hawaiian Dredging Company completes new housing, reconditions the station theater, and builds a new chapel in a modern “A” frame design. Construction work employed over a thousand men. The channel between Eastern and Sand Islands was deepened to allow the largest US tankers to enter.
►October 7, 1957 – The Midway Station Theater was reopened, after being reconditioned by MCB #9.
►May 1958 – The Hawaiian Dredging Company completed a new hangar, school, chapel, housing and barracks on Sand Island. Midway’s population grew, maintaining a populace of about 2,800 working on DEW Line programs. On Eastern Island, 100 or fewer people were stationed with the Naval Security Group with their own barracks, mess hall and recreation facilities. Systems installed on Eastern Island by 1960 included a “missile impact location system” and other radar devices.
►May 14, 1958 – Ceremonies were held for the opening of the new Midway Chapel.
►June 6, 1958 – The Midway Memorial Chapel is named in honor of the American servicemen who lost their lives during the Battle of Midway, which was a significant naval battle fought between the United States and Japan during World War II. The battle took place from June 4-7, 1942, and is widely considered to be one of the most important battles of the war. The chapel was built as a memorial to the men who fought and died in the battle and was dedicated on June 6, 1958.
►July 1958 – The first flight from Midway, of the Airborne Early Warning Carrier, was made this month. Midway became the refueling and jumping off point for squadrons of 3,000-mile-long round-the-clock patrols of Super Constellation Lockheed EC-121 Warning Star airplanes. Their objective was to extend early warning coverage from land-based antenna arrays and radar picket ships to detect surprise Soviet bomber and missile attacks. The flights continued through 1965. Warning Stars were nicknamed “Willie Victors” by naval aircrews, based on a slang version of the phonetic alphabet and the naval version of the aircraft’s pre-1962 designation of WV-1, WV-2 or WV-3.
►July 22, 1958 – Hawaiian Dredging Completes major construction at Midway.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin News Article
►March 1959 – Midway’s first TV station, KEIK-TV, started broadcasting. It was the first of its kind in the world. Called STAR (simplified television and radio), a one-man operated station.
►March 18, 1959 – The Hawaiian Statehood Act is passed and, on August 21, 1959, Hawaii becomes the 50th state. The law excludes Midway from the state of Hawaii’s territory.
►April 11, 1959 – Near Midway Island, an Albatross strikes submariner David R. Lauro from his lookout perch aboard the submarine USS Sea Devil (SS-400) to Davy Jones’ Locker. A search by the submarine, a cruiser ship and several aircraft were not able to locate him. He was only 23-years old.
►June 3, 1959 – Douglas Carson and Howard Sakahara were the first students to graduate from Midway George Cannon High School.
►July 4, 1959 – The new 49-star flag (with Alaska admitted to the Union on January 3, 1959) was raised over Midway for the first time. Midway residents celebrated its 1859 discovery centennial.
►August 21, 1959 – Hawaii became the 50th US state. Politically, since Midway was already claimed by the US, it did not become part of the State of Hawaii and remained a US territory.
[Midway Atoll in the Pacific Ocean is a United States unorganized, unincorporated insular area administered by the US Navy (Executive Order 199-A on January 20, 1903). The Secretary of the Navy designated the Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet (CINCPAC) to act as its administrative authority.
A passport is required to enter the United States from Midway (including US citizens).
►January 22, 1961 – A WV-2 (Willy Victor) aircraft was returning to Midway Island, having just completed a Distant Early Warning (DEW) Mission. In the final stage of touching down at Midway, the aircraft came into contact with a small pile of coral on the approach end of the runway. After a hard landing, the aircraft veered to one side of the runway. It then hit a crash truck that was routinely parked to the side of the runway in the event of an emergency and broke apart. A fire then started, killing six crewmen aboard the aircraft and three Navy men on the crash truck.
►June 1960 – First Fish and Wildlife Conservation Management Program implemented.
►July 9, 1962 –The U.S. Launched a NUKE Into Space 60 Years Ago
By Andrei Tapalaga
►September 4, 1962 – Executive Order 11048 makes the Secretary of the Navy responsible for the civil administration of Midway and vests all executive and legislative authority necessary for that administration, and certain judicial authority, in the Secretary.
►October 3rd, 1962 – Midway hosts another Astronaut and his space capsule.
Walter “Wally” Marty Schirra Jr. October 3rd, 1962 – Mercury Atlas 8 (MA-8, also Sigma 7) was the third manned orbital flight of the Mercury program. The pilot was Walter M. Schirra, Jr. The capsule reentered after completing six orbits, landing 440 km northeast of Midway Island in the Pacific Ocean, about 8.2 km from the prime recovery ship, aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge (CVS-33) “Mighty Kay,”. The duration of the flight was 9 hours 13 minutes and 11 seconds during which Schirra travelled over 230,000 km. The Capsule was transferred to a tugboat USS Topenebee (YTB-373) to Midway Island then was loaded on for its return transit to Cape Canaveral aboard a Lockheed C-130 Hercules.
►August 24, 1963 – AT&T to provide MIDWAY ISLAND direct dialing.
►1955-1965 – Midway plays host to squadrons of Super Constellation “Willy Victor” radar aircraft and crews that played the role of the eyes and ears of the Nation forming the Distant Early Warning line in coordination with radar picket ships.
►1965 – With the use of “spy” satellites for Soviet surveillance, Warning Star flights from Midway halted. Sand Island population was reduced to 1,700 to maintain the antenna array. US combat units were deployed to Vietnam. Some 58,220 US service men died in the conflict. The bodies of many casualties were repatriated to the US mainland through Midway during the “war.”
►1968 – Midway is one of the main aircraft and ship refueling stations during the Vietnam War. It also accommodates classified missions and the storage and assembly of advanced underwater weapons and the Sound Surveillance System (Project Caesar), which includes miles of undersea cables with hydrophones to pick up the sounds of submarines.
►January 13, 1969 – Naval Facility Midway (NAVFAC) was commissioned. The NAVFAC was used in support of the Navy’s Undersea Sound Surveillance Program – SOSUS.
►December 14, 1968 –The plane carrying Bob Hope’s Christmas show was in-route to Vietnam or returning back from I’m not quite sure, stopped for a few hours on Midway Island. Capt. Yesenky, the commanding officer, asked Mr. Hope if he’d consider doing something for the sailors and families on Midway, even though nothing had been scheduled. Bob Hope easily could have blown him off: No one but the captain knew of the request, the potential audience was only a couple of hundred at best, and his show people were in the middle of a very long and tiring flight, they were all sleeping when they landed on Midway. In this photo, Bob Hope is speaking with Miss World.
Instead, Mr. Hope and his group put on the best show they could in the time available, including a singing number by Ann-Margret. A deep and everlasting gratitude for the courtesy and enthusiasm Bob Hope displayed to a tiny audience in the front of the main hanger. He’s a true professional and a real showman, with respect for any audience, no matter how small. Thanks for the memory
►June 8, 1969 – June 8, 1969 – President Nixon and South Vietnam President Thieu conduct secret meetings at Midway, in The Midway House (the Officer-in-Charge House, property number 414). Nixon announced that 25,000 U.S. troops would be withdrawn by the end of August. The two parties emphasized that South Vietnamese forces would replace U.S. forces. Along with this announcement of the first U.S. troop withdrawal, Nixon discussed what would become known as “Vietnamization.” Under this new policy, Nixon intended to initiate steps to increase the combat capability of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces so that the South Vietnamese would eventually be able to assume full responsibility for the war.
►May 1970 – Last flight of the Airborne Early Warning Squadron.
►March 1971 – Eastern Island vacated by all personnel and designated a wildlife habitat.
►October, 1973 – The Gooney Statue project was completed by Lt. Cmdr. Dr. Robert C. Cook, an oral surgeon on Midway. He carved it during his time on the island, in 1972. It was carved from a solid Mahogany wood piece that washed up onto the shores of Midway. He also carved a large ‘Aloha’ sign that was placed at the NAF Hangar, to welcome everyone to the island. Neither carvings were maintained, by FWS, and both are now gone.
►March 24, 1978 – FCC issues new call signs for amateur radio operators: (KH4) Midway Island
►October 1978 – Naval Air Station Midway re-designated Naval Air Facility and dependents begin to depart the island. As many as 4,000 personnel and dependents were stationed here at the height of the Cold and Vietnam Wars.
►March 1982 – Base Services, Inc. is awarded a Base Operating Support (BOS) contract and assumes all operations and maintenance of the island.
►September 30, 1983 – NAVFAC Midway was decommissioned, after 24 years of service, in support of the Navy’s Undersea Sound Surveillance Program – SOSUS.
►March 22, 1986 – USS Secota (YTB-415) sank, in deep waters, just off the shore of Midway Island. The Secota tug boat had just completed a personnel transfer with the submarine USS Georgia when Secota lost power and collided with Georgia. Secota lost power before it was clear, causing an impact with the sub’s stern dive planes, where the tug got hung up. Secota sank; ten crewman were rescued, but two crew trapped in the engine room drowned. While the media reported that the Georgia was undamaged, a report sent by the Commanding Officer of the Georgia indicates that after returning the surviving crew members to Hawaii, Georgia underwent emergency repairs for minor damage sustained in the collision.
►1986 -The National Park Service initiates a study of Midway’s heritage resources to determine if any of the World War II-era properties are eligible for designation as a National Historic Landmark. The study identifies nine eligible defensive structures on Sand Island and none on Eastern Island.
►May 1987 -Six ammunition magazines, a pillbox (a defensive structure built on or near the beach), and two gun emplacements on the west side of Sand Island are, as a group, designated a National Historic Landmark and placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
►April 22, 1988 – Midway was designated as an “Overlay National Wildlife Refuge”. This designation created a dual purpose use between the US Navy and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
►April 25, 1991 – Undersea cable services terminated. A new Satellite Earth Station was activated for telephone and data communications.
►September 30, 1993 – Naval Air Facility Midway is “operationally closed” and the Navy initiates plans for environmental cleanup of the Island.
►July 1, 1993 – The Naval Air Facility on Midway is recommended for closure under the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990 (Pub. L. No. 101-510, Tit. XXIX).
►1993 and 1994 – The Navy conducts cultural resources surveys to identify buildings, structures, objects, and sites on both Sand and Eastern Islands that might be eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. The Navy determines that 78 properties are eligible, including 9 properties that were designated as a National Historic Landmark.
►October 31, 1996 – President Clinton signs Executive Order 13022 transferring jurisdiction of Midway Island from the U.S. Navy to the Department of the Interior. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages Midway Island National Wildlife Refuge to maintain and restore its natural biological diversity, provide conservation and management of the wildlife and habitats within refuge boundaries, provide opportunities for scientific research and environmental education, maintain the Island’s historical significance, and provide compatible wildlife-oriented activities to the visiting public.
►August 1995 – The Battle of Midway Memorial was erected and dedicated on Sand Island.
►August 2, 1996 – FWS enters into a cooperative agreement with the Midway Phoenix Corporation for support of a public visitation program.
►August 1996 – Midway opened for public visitation, via Midway Phoenix Corporation management.
►February 5, 1996 – FWS, the Navy, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation enter into a programmatic agreement, as authorized by the regulations implementing section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, regarding historic preservation issues on Midway. The agreement addresses the transfer of historic properties identified on Midway in 1996 and how FWS was to treat the properties afterward.
►1996 – Midway Phoenix Corporation (of Cartersville, Georgia) entered a cooperative agreement with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to open Midway Atoll for public visitation. Wildlife watching, fishing, scuba diving and military history tours were featured in its ambitious tourism offering. In addition, Midway Phoenix would provide electric power, maintain buildings, service the airport and runways, and fuel planes and ships from time to time. Midway Phoenix invested millions of dollars into upgrading “Charlie Barracks” into hotel rooms, renovated offices, repaved roads, and constructed the Captain Brooks beach pavilion (bar) and Clipper House restaurant/dining room.
►1997 –The first systematic marine invertebrate survey is conducted and documents 316 invertebrate species, 250 of which had not been previously recorded at Midway.
►April 3, 1997 – Secretary of the Navy, John Dalton, presents the “Key to Midway” (in the shape of a Laysan Albatross) to Interior Assistant Secretary Bonnie Cohen. In his speech, Secretary Dalton celebrated “trading guns for goonies” on Midway Island.
►June 30, 1997 – The last U.S. Navy personnel stationed on Midway Island depart.
►October 8, 1997 – Midway Phoenix Corp. (MPC) donates $120,000 to help support Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.
►1998 – FWS and the Oceanic Society sponsor the first two Elderhostel historic preservation projects. Working under the supervision of a historic preservation specialist, volunteers clean and preserve the 3-inch antiaircraft gun on Eastern Island, clean and stabilize Battery C, and remove paint from the 5-inch guns in the memorial park. FWS funds roof and soffit repairs on eight officers’ quarters and the Officer-in-Charge house. FWS receives a National Park Service grant for $6,000 to develop a plan for restoring the Armco huts, power plant, and cable station.
►March 19, 1998 – Midway Phoenix contracts Aloha Airlines to fly chartered 737 flights from Oahu to Midway for visitor and logistical support. First flight was scheduled for April 29, 1998.
►April 29, 1998 – Aloha Airlines began weekly tourist flights via a Boeing 737 to Midway.
►July 17, 1988 – Ground-nesting birds can’t hold their own amid rats, dogs, cats (and mice)
Honolulu Advertiser newspaper article, by Jan Bruggencate
►October 12, 1998 – Honolulu Star Advertiser article
Midway’s Visitor Program
By Jan TedBruggencaete
►1999 – FWS and the Oceanic Society sponsor three Elderhostel historic preservation projects. Work includes restoring the theater windows and completing a condition assessment, cleaning and stabilizing Battery A, preserving the 5-inch guns, completing a condition assessment of the cable station, inventorying changes to the buildings, drafting new architectural floor plans, and organizing a library of historic resources.
►June 4, 1999 – Navy Admiral Jay L. Johnson declares June 4, 1942 (The Battle of Midway) as one of the two most significant dates in naval history, stating this date will henceforth be celebrated annually as the centerpiece of our heritage.
►July 16, 1999 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge Historic Preservation Plan as part of its
responsibilities for the long-term management of historic properties on
Midway Atoll. This plan defines a program to integrate historic
preservation planning with the wildlife conservation mission of the
►August 31, 1999 – Monk Seal Death on Midway – The USFWS staff gave Valium to a seal – then dispensed a second does which then killed the seal. Midway residents stated, “I’ve witnessed this same behavior by FWS at Midway, many times. While living there, they overdosed a Hawaiian Monk Seal with Valium. Their goal was to first capture the seal with a net, then give it Valium to sedate the animal. They didn’t think it was enough, so they gave it another dose. The additional Valium killed the seal.” The USFWS Newsletter stated the seal died of a heart attack. The truth of this event was later discovered when the USFWS brought a food order to our Galley – which was written on a piece of recycled paper. On the back of their food order was the real story of how the seal was died. Our Midway doctor was there and witnessed the entire event.”
►2000-2001 – FWS receives a Save America’s Treasures grant for $308,681 from the National Park Service. The grant provides funds for termite prevention of the officers’ housing, Officer-in-Charge house, theater, and several shop buildings; re-roofing of a cable station building (property number 643; mess hall); and restoration of an ARMCO hut.
►September 13, 2000 – In response to a mandate in the fiscal year 2000 appropriations act, the Secretary of the Interior signs Secretarial Order 3217 designating the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge as the Battle of Midway National Memorial “so that the heroic courage and sacrifice of those who fought against overwhelming odds to win an incredible victory will never be forgotten.” Lands and waters of Midway were designated as a Battle of Midway National Memorial.
►December 4, 2000 – Executive Order 13178 establishes the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve. The reserve encircles the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, except for Midway; however, it directs the Secretary of the Interior to follow the order’s management principles in managing the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge to the extent consistent with applicable laws.
►January 2002 – Midway was closed to visitors due to Cooperative Agreement disputes between Midway Phoenix Corporation and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
►January 7, 2002 – The fiscal year 2000 appropriations act requires the Secretary of the Interior to consult on a regular basis with organizations with an interest in Midway, including the International Midway Memorial Foundation, on the management of the national memorial. The Secretary of the Interior establishes the Battle of Midway National Memorial Advisory Committee to develop a strategy for a public dedication of the memorial, identify and plan for appropriate exhibits to commemorate this important event, and offer recommendations on improving visitor services.
►March 6, 2002 – The Midway Phoenix Corporation and FWS enter into a settlement agreement to terminate their cooperative agreement.
►May 1, 2002 – Midway Phoenix Corporation make their final exit from the island, citing cooperation issues with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
►May 1, 2002 – GEO-Engineers took over as a temporary contractor to maintain continuity of operations on the island. The GEO Engineering employees arrived on the same plane as the MPC used to make their exit from the island. There was no cross-training with the GEO employees.
►May 6, 2002 – Assistant Secretary of Interior, Craig Manson, states “The Department of the Interior is fully committed to restoring public access to Midway“.
►June 4-7, 2002 – Veterans commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the historic Battle of Midway on Sand Island.
►December 2002 -The FWS host as many as 20+ Bird-Counters.
►February 1, 2003 – As much as 100,000 gallons of JP-5 jet fuel were spilled from a pipeline at the Midway fuel farm. Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Response Team, the U.S. Coast Guard and Geo Engineers responded. The Service received $4.5 million in emergency supplemental funds for the fuel spill cleanup effort.
►February 26, 2003 – H.R. 924 is introduced in the House of Representatives, which, if enacted, would require the Secretary of the Interior to designate an agency within the department to replace FWS as administrator of Midway. Congress does not pass H.R. 924.
►May 7, 2003 – A contract was awarded to Chugach, a wholly owned subsidiary of Chugach Alaska Corporation, to provide operations and maintenance services at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
►July 3, 2003 – A military C-130 makes an emergency landing because an engine is out.
►December 9, 2003 – A Feasibility Study was prepared by the IMMF and presented to Assistant Secretary of Interior, Judge Craig Manson, who rejected the recommendation. This Feasibility Study was prepared at no cost to the government. The purpose of the study was to determine if an Affordable Visitor Program was financially feasible at Midway.
►December 2003 – The FWS host as many as 20+ Bird-Counters. Island remains closed to all other visitors.
►January 6, 2004 – A civilian Boeing 777 makes an emergency landing because of left engine issues.
►October 13, 2004 – Laysan ducks were introduced on Midway. FWS transports 20 endangered Laysan ducks to Midway from their home at Laysan Island in the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The birds adapt well to the seeps created on Sand Island and surprised biologists by breeding during their first year, with 12 ducklings successfully fledging. An additional 22 ducks are transported to Midway in 2005, most of which are introduced to Eastern Island. By the end of 2006, more than 100 Laysan ducks are living on Midway.
►November 22, 2004 – FWS closed all airport operations.
►December 2004 -The FWS host as many as 20+ Bird-Counters. Island remains closed to all other visitors.
►April 12, 2005 – FWS spent $30,000 for a ‘Feasibility Study’, to determine if a Visitor Program were feasible at Midway. The study provided proof and offered examples of how a Visitor Program would work via an alternate Cooperative Agreement with a new Cooperative Contractor. The FWS elected to ignore the recommendations of that report and did not select an alternate Cooperator to run a Visitor Program at Midway, as they said they were going to do, since 2002.
►May 26, 2005 – An oversight hearing entitled “Public Access Within The National Wildlife Refuge System” was held before the Subcommittee on Fisheries and Oceans, House Committee on Resources. Witnesses include the Chairman of the International Midway Memorial Foundation, who requests that the committee consider designating an agency other that FWS to manage Midway.
►July 21, 2005 – A 3-year-old boy was injured and flown to Hawaii by the Coast Guard.
►September 30, 2005 – Review of Costs of the Airfield on Midway Island – Office of Inspector General
►December 2005 – The FWS host as many as 20+ Bird-Counters. Island remains closed to all other visitors.
►January 14, 2006 – A kayaker drowned at Midway on Saturday 1/14/06, at about 12:30pm – Midway time. He was a Chugach Thai employee, an electrician, who had only been on the island for a couple of weeks. He was in a one-person kayak with three others preparing on shore to go with him. The accident occurred right off-shore, in about chest-deep water. Apparently, the kayak tipped over and the others did not notice what sort of trouble he was in, until it was too late. The kayaker became entangled in the straps that are supposed to be used for a seat back-support. It was reported that he tied the straps around his waist, like a seat-belt.
►June 15, 2006 – President George Bush established Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, including including ten islands and atolls of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Midway Atoll NWR and the Battle of Midway National Memorial are inclusive of the Marine National Monument. Proclamation 8031 designates the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument. The monument is one of the largest fully protected marine managed areas in the world. The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is a World Heritage listed U.S. National Monument encompassing 583,000 square miles of ocean waters, including ten islands and atolls of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Wikipedia
►December 2006 – The FWS host as many as 20+ Bird-Counters. Island remains closed to all other visitors.
►March 1, 2007 – The First Lady (Laura Bush) visits Midway in recognition of the newly designated Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and to increase public awareness of its exceptional marine ecosystem. On March 2, 2007, in a ceremony in Honolulu, accompanied by the Governor of Hawaii and native Hawaiian elders, she announces the new native Hawaiian name of the marine monument. While on Midway, she stayed at the Midway House, the former commanding officer’s residence and current home of the refuge manager.
►June 4, 2007 – Veterans commemorate the 65th Anniversary of the historic Battle of Midway on Sand Island.
►December 2007 – The FWS host as many as 20+ Bird-Counters.
►2008 – FWS contracts for a condition assessment of the cable station. Because of their deteriorated condition, a decision was made to salvage and dismantle three of the four two-story buildings and save one. FWS contracts to salvage the windows, doors, and other fixtures of the cable station.
►January – 2008 – After a six-year lapse, tourism reopened on Midway in very small, limited groups -paying about $7000 for their flights to Midway.
►March – 2008 – Limited public access to the island was restored, in very small groups -paying about $7000 for their flights to Midway.
►2008 – Visitor Program open to smaller tourist and student groups – about 250 to 325 total visitors for this year – Max capacity – 30 per week / Airplane max capacity – 18 passengers per flight – with each visitor paying about $7000 per visit.
►December 2008 – The FWS host as many as 20+ Bird-Counters.
►2009 – Visitor Program open to smaller tourist and student groups – about 250 to 325 total visitors for this year – Max capacity – 30 per week / Airplane max capacity – 18 passengers per flight – with each visitor paying about $7000 per visit.
►2009 – FWS’s Cultural Resources Team travels to Midway with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to record the terrestrial elements associated with the Battle of Midway for the American Battlefield Grant. Consultation is completed for the cable station and a memorandum of agreement is signed with stipulations that mitigate for the loss of three buildings. Engineering and historic preservation firms assess the condition of the seaplane hangar and present the results in two different studies. They begin the process of developing appropriate plans and costs for rehabilitating the seaplane hangar.
►July 8, 2009 – A military F-18 conducts an emergency landing because an engine is out.
►October 2009 – Ham Radio Operators Activate Midway Island as K4M
►December 2009 – The FWS host as many as 20+ Bird-Counters.
►2010 – Visitor Program open to smaller tourist and student groups – about 250 to 325 total visitors for this year – Max capacity – 30 per week / Airplane max capacity – 18 passengers per flight – with each visitor paying more than $7000 per visit.
►June 04, 2010, Friday – Historic Seaplane Hangar at Midway will be restored
Honolulu Star-Bulletin – Newspaper Article, by Audrey McAvory
►July 30, 2010 – Delegates to the United Nations’ Educational Scientific and Cultural Organizations 34th World Heritage Convention agree to inscribe Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument as one of 28 mixed (natural and cultural) World Heritage Sites.
►December 2010 – FWS revises its Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge Historic Preservation Plan 1999 and reissues it in December 2010. Officer 2-Story Houses were rehabilitated. These homes are eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. FWS collected $2.84 million from an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant to Rehabilitate 2-story homes and to add solar water heating.
►December 2010 – The FWS host as many as 20+ Bird-Counters.
►2011 – FWS facilities maintenance officials spent $193,000 for estimates to repair the Seaplane Hangar – which included the costs to transport and house potential bidders on Midway as well as to transport and house three to four staff members from the winning bidder to conduct work necessary for developing the estimate. Plans and costs to rehabilitate/repair the seaplane hangar are finalized and contract bids are reviewed. The project is halted because of the high cost.
►2011 – Visitor Program open to smaller tourist and student groups – about 250 to 325 total visitors for this year – Max capacity – 30 per week / Airplane max capacity – 18 passengers per flight – with each visitor paying about $7000 per visit.
►March 10 – 11, 2011 – Midway Tsunami – Cause by 9.0 earthquake in Japan
Following a massive earthquake in Japan, Midway was partially washed over by four successive tsunami waves—the tallest being 4.9 feet. There were no human casualties and no damage to buildings, but old seawalls suffered extensive damage. Due to the quake’s timing at the height of the breeding season, an estimated 110,000 Laysan and black-footed albatross chicks were killed in low-lying areas. As many as 2,000 adult albatrosses were also killed, as well as many Bonin petrels that drowned in their underground burrows. Introduced and endangered Laysan ducks suffered substantial losses on Eastern Island which was over washed by the tsunami wave that covered the island by sixty percent.
►December 2011 – The FWS host as many as 20+ Bird-Counters.
►June 4, 2012 – Veterans commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the historic Battle of Midway on Sand Island. The Navy lands a 737 on Midway, with about 100 attendees for the Battle of Midway Ceremony. FWS handed out this brochure for the ceremony.
►June 16, 2011 – A Delta Airlines Boeing 747 jumbo jet with 380 passengers and crew made an emergency landing at Midway after a “sudden and serious” crack developed in the plane’s windscreen. Delta Flight 277 was en route from Honolulu to Osaka, Japan, at the time of the incident. The plane struck two albatrosses on its approach but suffered only minor damage to a flap. The passengers were later transferred to another Delta jet.
►August 2, 2012 – A military F-18 makes an emergency landing at Midway because of an in-flight emergency.
►October 22, 2012 – Google completes a Street View scan of Midway.
►October 23, 2012 – USFWS suspends Midway’s Visitor Program citing agency budget cutbacks.
►December 2012 – The FWS host as many as 20+ Bird-Counters.
►August 2013 – Four of Five Historic Cable Houses were demolished by FWS, as scheduled.
►September 2013 – Historic Marine Barracks (buildings #578 and #579) were demolished by FWS, as scheduled, without notification to or consultation, as required by Public Law 106-113. The cost of demolition and remediation was $2.7 million.
►November 2013 – The FWS host as many as 20+ Bird-Counters. Island remains closed to all other visitors.
►2014 – USFWS volunteer program restarts – inviting Wildlife Volunteers – No Historic Preservation Volunteers are included, within their Volunteer Program.
►July 10, 2014 – A Boeing 777 en route to Guam with 348 passengers makes an unscheduled landing at Midway because of smoke in the cockpit.
►August – 2014 – A 35-foot sailboat was denied access to the Midway Harbor, after its on-board water maker stopped working. The FWS stated their “biosecurity protocols dictate that un-permitted vessels should not be allowed access to the lagoon unless for an emergency”. The FWS gathered water jugs and delivered them to the boat outside the lagoon.
►November – 2014 – Midway Visitor Program remains closed.
►December 2014 -The FWS host as many as 20+ Bird-Counters. Island remains closed to all other visitors.
►March – 2015 – Midway Visitor Program remains closed – No plan to reopen the Visitor Program at Midway.
►April 7, 2015 – April 21, 2015 – Three GAO Auditors on-island to audit USFWS, in response to the November 20, 2014 FWS Oversight Hearing – To determine if the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is being properly managed.
►July 14, 2015 – Two U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornets, one with a cabin pressure malfunction, make an emergency landing on Midway.
►September 2015 – FWS completes demolition of Fuel Farm Storage Tanks, as scheduled, despite request to pause demolition, for 10 years, at a November 2014 Congressional Oversight Hearing.
►December 2015 – The FWS host as many as 20+ Bird-Counters. Island remains closed to all other visitors.
►April 26, 2016 – Visitor Program still closed to the public, with no plan by FWS to reopen.
►May 2016 – The USFWS on Midway denied the International Midway Memorial Foundation (IMMF)’s request to land on Midway’s airstrip on June 4, 2017 for the 75th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Midway.
►June 2, 2016 – The long-awaited Government Accountability Report was released on June 2, 2016. This Audit / Investigative Report was a result of the November 21, 2014 Hearing, in Washington D.C.
Here’s a link to the 117 page PDF GAO Report
Here’s a link to a GAO Video of the Midway Report
Here’s a link to GAO photos
►September 1, 2016 – President Obama visits Midway Island
Click here to see video and media news articles about his visit
American Flags are flown from two locations on the island.
►November 11, 2016 – Veteran’s Day – The Fish and Wildlife Service did not fly the American Flag, from any location on the island.
►December 7, 2016 – Pearl Harbor 75th Commemoration Day – 75 years ago Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese at 7:48 am. It was also 75 years ago that Midway was first attacked by two Japanese Battleships, within a few hours of the major attack on Pearl Harbor. Two Imperial Japanese destroyers bombarded Sand Island. 75 years ago First Lieutenant George Ham Cannon-USMC was killed in the old Power House at Midway. He was later awarded (posthumously) the nation’s highest military award – the Medal of Honor. These events occurred prior to the Battle of Midway. The BOM occurred between June 4 and June 7 of 1942 – six months after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. The Fish and Wildlife Service did not fly the American Flag, from any location on the island, on December 7, 2016.
►December 2016 – The FWS host as many as 20+ Bird-Counters.
►May 11, 2017 – Newly appointed Secretary of Interior, Ryan Zinke, seeks input for Review of Certain National Monuments Established Since 1996; Notice of Opportunity for Public Comment – Public asked to weigh in on future of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.
►June 5, 2017 – 75th Battle of Midway Ceremony, held at multiple locations including Midway Island. This year, the USFWS limited the number of visitors to the island to only 25. The International Midway Memorial Foundation (IMMF) was denied permission to land a chartered plane at the Midway airport, to accommodate other veterans and visitors to attend the ceremony. The Midway ceremony included a live satellite feed for others to watch.
►July 6, 2017 – A USFWS employee was attacked by a Hawaiian Monk Seal, while swimming from the beach at Midway. The employee was the same person who had previously posted ‘Keep-Away’ signs, in the same area of the beach, for others to stay away from a mother seal and her new pup.
►September 17, 2017 – The Midway Water Tower was demolished, as directed by the FWS.
►November 24, 2017 – Large Mice populations are confirmed as attacking/killing Gooney Birds at Midway. This problem was first noticed in 2015.
►December 2017 – The FWS host as many as 20+ Bird-Counters. Island remains closed to all other visitors.
►December 2018 – The FWS host as many as 20+ Bird-Counters. Island remains closed to all other visitors.
►December 2019 – The FWS host as many as 20+ Bird-Counters. Island remains closed to all other visitors.
►August 1, 2020 – Visitor Program still closed to the public, with no plan by FWS to reopen – despite a legal mandate to keep the island open for Visitors.
►September 20, 2020 – An USAF C-17A Globemaster III [HH 55149] made an emergency (recorded as a precautionary) landing at Midway, after experiencing problems with their Navigation equipment. The aircraft required 1576 gallons of fuel @ $20.00/gallon, before departing from the island.
►April 16th, 2021, 2:43am – United Airlines Flight 2781 from Guam to Los Angeles made an Emergency Landing, stating they had smoke in the cockpit. The aircraft was a 787-900 Cargo Plane, with a crew of three.
They spent nearly two hours in trying to contact anyone at Midway. The crew initially tried making contact via their 2-way radios to Airport Control Center. They also tried making contact via their on-board Satellite Phone and sent Email (via the Internet) to their primary points of contact – but no one responded.
Prior to landing, the flight crew tried to remotely activate the airport Runway Lights and PAPI Light systems, but neither light system could be turned on. The PAPI Lights and Runway Lights are both connected to the same remote-control switch, at the airport. The runway and PAPI lights are configured to allow remote control activation from any plane, by clicking the aircraft microphone on a certain frequency. The pilot stated the landing was like landing in a black hole, where the only landing lights were from the aircraft itself.
The aircraft made a safe landing, but the crew were still unable to find anyone on the island. A plane of this size normally requires a mobile stairway be placed at the exit door.
Midway is designated as an ETOPS airport. Its sole purpose is to be available for aircraft declaring an emergency, making transpacific trips.
After landing, the crew of three spent the next 2 hours and 40 minutes walking around the island, in hopes of finding someone.
Contact was finally made with Midway, when a former Midway Refuge Manager (on the mainland) called the current Refuge Manager (at Midway) to ask if they were aware that a large plane had just landed. The on-island Refuge Manager nor the Airport Manager was completely unaware of any aircraft that had landed on the island.
A former resident employee at Midway stated that the Light Control System was likely left in the Standby Mode and not returned to Auto Mode after scheduled service was performed. The employee stated this had happened several times prior and was likely the cause for the Light Systems to not respond to the airplane control signals.
►September 26, 2021 – A Hawaiian Airlines flight from South Korea made an emergency landing on Midway Atoll on Friday due to a low oil pressure notification.
After about 5 hours and 45 minutes of flight time, the captain received the alarm and decided to divert the plane to Henderson Field on Sand Island in Midway Atoll.
Flight HA460 (Airbus A330-200 registered N386HA) took off from Seoul Incheon International Airport at 21:00 SST on Thursday with 67 passengers and 12 crew on board and was due to arrive in Honolulu on Friday.
After the emergency landing, Hawaiian Airlines said the plane landed without incident and a replacement plane (Airbus A330-200 registered N381HA) was dispatched from Honolulu with a team of mechanics and crew. This aircraft landed in Honolulu with a delay of 9 hours.
►January 13, 2022 – The Historic SAR/Seaplane Hangar collapsed. It was reported that heavy winds and rain were the cause of its collapse. The Hangar was not included within any preventive maintenance program, over the past 20+ years. In 2011, FWS facilities maintenance officials spent $193,000 for estimates to repair the Seaplane Hangar – which included the costs to transport and house potential bidders on Midway as well as to transport and house three to four staff members from the winning bidder to conduct work necessary for developing the estimate. Plans and costs to rehabilitate/repair the seaplane hangar are finalized and contract bids are reviewed. The project is halted by the Fish and Wildlife Service because of the high cost.
►March 28, 2022 – Plan To Eradicate Mice That Attack Albatrosses On Midway Delayed Another Year – U.S. Fish and Wildlife has been planning an eradication program on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge since 2015, after it discovered that, despite the mismatch in size, house mice were climbing onto and biting Laysan albatrosses, wounding and sometimes killing them.
►August 24, 2022 – The near-abandoned 40-population American Island which no one has been allowed to visit for a decade
►September 26, 2022 – Early detection system for nuisance alga infesting Papahānaumokuākea reefs
►April 15, 2023 – Yahoo New Article – On Oct. 28, 1944, a U.S. submarine made a fueling stop at Midway Atoll in the Pacific, then headed west and was never seen again.
Ten days later, an underwater explosion occurred off Japan’s Hokkaido Island near a mine barrier.
Those two events have long been thought related, but without physical evidence, there was no way to know for sure.
Now, after 79 years, the story of the Groton-built USS Albacore finally has an ending. The wreckage found last year near the blast site has been identified by the Navy as the missing submarine.
That development, announced in February, completes the biography of a vessel that had stunning success in World War II. The news also adds a detail to Electric Boat’s wartime history and brings conclusion for the families of the 85 men lost.
►June 11, 2023 – We (the public) first learn that the following buildings were demolished.
The Main Galley
BOQ-Bravo, nearest BOQ-Charlie
BEQ-Charlie, on the north side of the Main Galley
BEQ-Delta, on the south side of the Main Galley
We learned about the above list of demolished buildings via Google Earth satellite images.
►July 10, 2023 – A helicopter was used to strafe Sand Island with 127 buckets of poison pellets to kill mice. The mice were first noticed killing nesting Albatross in year 2015. On the day prior to the helicopter drop of the poison pellets, a video was posted (from Midway) showing a field full of young Albatross chicks still on the island. The imported Laysan Ducks were transported to Eastern Island and kept inside cages, while people camped on the island to guard the ducks. Potentially, this could have been done to offer additional assurance in keeping the ducks away from the poison pellets.
►July 21, 2023 – Final Application of Mice Eradication Pellets / in conjunction with hand application to “more sensitive areas”.
►July 23, 2023 – 1st bird count conducted / removal of bird species, endanger of contamination or pellet ingestion [for treatment and/or observation]
►August 4, 2023 – 2nd bird count was conducted, after poison was dispersed over the island.
►August 15, 2023 – Seabird Protection Program (Mouse Eradication Program) Update # 5 –
Despite all best efforts, we’re (USFWS) still finding mice on Midway: A number of baiting options have been explored and tried to remove the remaining mice from Sand Island, but without success. It is disappointing, especially after so much planning and effort; however, as Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” We are now ceasing further efforts to eradicate mice and transitioning into a learning and mitigation phase. Our efforts to protect wildlife, such as the Laysan duck and shorebirds from potential exposure to bait continues, as does our scientific protocol for environmental monitoring.