RIGHT TO WIN
A CONTINUING DIALOGUE WITH VETERANS OF
THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY
pages of “No Right to Win”
* * *
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
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
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.