Inside the pages of “No Right to Win”



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Inscribed on the walls of the beautiful World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. are many stirring quotes arising from the war, or from renowned works about the war. On the memorial’s south wall, in the Pacific Theater section, one of them proclaims “They had no right to win. Yet they did, and in doing so they changed the course of a war.” Those two brief sentences from Walter Lord’s foreword in Incredible Victory sum up the Battle of Midway with profound conciseness.


In June of 1942, one of the most powerful war fleets the world had ever known descended upon the tiny atoll of Midway, about 1100 miles northwest of Hawaii. The Japanese intent was to lure the U.S. Navy’s few remaining aircraft carriers and scant supporting vessels into the open where they would suffer a decisive defeat, forcing the Americans to sue for peace and thus bring World War II in the Pacific to a quick end on Japanese terms. The vast armada of aircraft carriers, battleships, cruisers, destroyers, and submarines that the Imperial Japanese Navy was bringing to the fight seemed far more than adequate for the task. The Americans would be hopelessly outclassed and outgunned. There could be only one possible result.


            But it didn’t happen that way. Through an amazing combination of skill, courage, and especially luck, the U.S. not only prevailed at Midway but delivered to the enemy a devastating setback that halted all Japanese expansion in the Pacific. That unexpected development significantly affected the rest of the war in all theaters, as you’ll find explained in Appendix B.


            This book, though, is not just another account of the Battle of Midway, for that story has been told many times. Rather, this is a book about the men who fought and won the “Incredible Victory,” the veterans of the battle themselves. It is the story of a very unique group of Midway airmen, sailors, and Marines; men who have volunteered to share their knowledge and experiences of twentieth century history through the use of twenty-first century methods, and to do so on a continuing, almost daily basis. They are the veteran members of the Battle of Midway Roundtable, a stalwart corps of octogenarian ex-warriors, ably using computer gadgetry that most of their Greatest Generation contemporaries eschew. Through their active participation on the Internet-based Roundtable, aided by the generous support of noted military authors and historians, hundreds of men and women around the world, of all ages and backgrounds, have gained an extensive body of knowledge of the Battle of Midway. To the extent possible, that knowledge has been imparted to these pages.


From its humble, accidental beginning in 1997 to its respected position today as a living resource on the most crucial naval engagement in American history, the Battle of Midway Roundtable has continuously maintained the interest of veterans, students, hobbyists, historians, authors, screenwriters, military professionals, and myriad others for many years. It has served its members as a convenient electronic meeting hall where the victors of Midway seem, as if by magic, to always be present and willing to share their personal memories of the battle.


Their accounts of the Battle of Midway and the understandings that we can derive from them are contained within the following chapters. Some of it may be familiar to you, but most readers will encounter at least a few surprises, and perhaps even a revelation or two that are rather stunning.


For those who have only a minimal awareness of the battle—why and how it was fought and the impact it had on the rest of the Second World War and beyond—I recommend that you first read Appendix B, which explains its key aspects and their importance. Knowing those basic facts will equip you to understand and perhaps better appreciate what you’ll find on the following pages.



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