MILTON — Naval Air Station Whiting field recognized the 76th anniversary of the Battle of Midway June 6 with a commencement speech at the base.

The Battle of Midway took place June 4 to 7, 1942 at the island of Midway in the central Pacific Ocean six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The United States took the offensive in World War II after this victory of the U.S. Navy over the Japanese Imperial Navy. After Midway, the tide of the war turned in favor of the U.S. and her allies.

Speaking at the commemoration was Commander Donald "Droopy" Gaines, former Executive Officer of NAS Whiting field who retired from active service June 8.  

“The battle was considered one of the greatest modern day successes in U.S. Naval history,” Gaines said in his speech.

Gaines said that Midway was an important outpost because it lay between Hawaii and Australia and the Japanese troops were interested in destroying it to cripple the United States forces.

“In the end, the Americans lost one carrier, one destroyer and over one hundred airplanes and three hundred men,” Gaines said. “The Japanese, though, took a much greater toll. They saw four carriers lost, one heavy cruiser lost and over three thousand men killed.”

He said while the loss of several of the Japanese’s well-trained pilots was a factor in their loss, a bigger factor was the high loss of technicians. Due to the loss of these men at Midway, the Japanese were never able to recover for the remainder of World Word II.    

To view a video shown at the commencement, go to