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The Battle of Midway in the PacificNothing distinguished the dawn of June 2 1942 from countless other dawnsthat had fallen over tiny Midway atoll in the North Pacific Nothing thatis except the tension the electric tension of men waiting for an enemyto make his move On Midways two main islands Sand and Eastern 3632 UnitedStates Navy and Marine Corps personnel along with a few Army Air Force aircrewsstood at battle stations in and near their fighters bombers and seaplaneswaiting for the Japanese attack they had been expecting for weeks The carrierbattle of Midway one of the decisive naval battles in history is welldocumented But the role played by the Midway garrison which manned thenaval air station on the atoll during the battle is not as well known Midwaylies 1135 miles west-northwest of Pearl Harbor Oahu The entire atoll isbarely six miles in diameter and consists of Sand and Eastern islands surroundedby a coral reef enclosing a shallow lagoon Midway was discovered in 1859and annexed by the United States in August 1867 Between 1903 and 1940 itserved both as a cable station on the Honolulu GuamManila underwatertelegraph line and as an airport for the Pan American Airways China ClipperMiracle 5 In March 1940 after a report on US Navy Pacific bases declaredMidway second only to Pearl Harbor in importance construction of a formalnaval air station began Midway Naval Air Station was placed in commissionin August 1941 By that time Midways facilities included a large seaplanehangar and ramps artificial harbor fuel storage tanks and several buildingsSand Island was populated by hundreds of civilian construction workers anda defense battalion of the Fleet Marine Force while Eastern Island boasteda 5300-foot airstrip Commander Cyril T Simard a veteran naval pilot whohad served as air officer on the carrier USS Langley and as executive officerat the San Diego Air Station was designated the atolls commanding officerAlong with the naval personnel manning the air station was a detachment ofMarines The first detachment
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