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    USS Boxer (LHD 4) Commemorates the Battle of Midway

    USS Boxer (LHD 4) Commemorates the Battle of Midway

    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Roland M Ardon | SAN DIEGO (June 7, 2023) Capt. Matthew Cieslukowski, commanding officer of USS Boxer...... read more read more



    Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Bradley Bowers 

    USS Boxer (LHD 4)

    SAN DIEGO (June 8, 2023) Amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) commemorated the 81st anniversary of the landmark U.S. victory during the Battle of Midway by conducting an observance June 3-7.

    Spearheaded by Boxer’s First Class Petty Officer Association (FCPOA), the commemoration kicked off with daily updates outlining what occurred in the battle that day in 1942.

    “Over 80 years ago, the commencement of the Battle of Midway began,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Teresa Lopez-Webster to the crew over the ship-wide announcement system, known as the 1MC. “On June 3, 1942, the first surface contact was reported at 9:04 a.m. This marked the beginning of the battle, and over the course of three hours, more than 30 Japanese vessels were reported moving toward Midway.”

    Corresponding notes in Boxer’s plan of the day provided additional context. The first entry explained that in early 1942, Navy cryptanalysts had begun breaking Japanese communication codes. They learned of the plan to attack a small U.S. mid-Pacific base at atoll Midway and further decoded the date of the attack. Armed with this intelligence, U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz planned a surprise counterattack.

    The observation of the battle culminated with a ceremony on the mess decks with Cmdr. Ferguson Harris, a Navy chaplain, reading a prayer led by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during World War II, entitled “Let our hearts be stout.” Ferguson asked the crew to join him for a moment of silence in honor of the lives lost at Midway.

    A wreath was then presented by two first class petty officers in dress whites.

    “As a tribute to those that gave their lives at the Battle of Midway and those who served and have since passed away, we would like to present this wreath to the crew,” said Boxer FCPOA President Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 1st Class Veronica Lennox. “We pause to remember and honor the spirit of Midway and all those who have served or are serving with honor, courage and commitment.”

    Following the wreath presentation, FCPOA leaders spoke more of the battle and its impact on the war. Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Christina Ahmann explained how the Battle of Midway held special meaning for the Boxer crew.

    “In the Navy, there are many historic battles that we have fought and won over the course of our history,” said Ahmann. “As a Boxer Sailor, we can relate to the significance behind these battles, as we are named after His Majesty’s Brig Boxer, which was captured in battle by the Americans during the War of 1812.”

    A video produced by the Naval Heritage and History Command was played next and provided historical footage of the Battle of Midway. Lights were dimmed on the mess decks as electric tea candles flickered on the tables next to names of the over 300 U.S. military personnel who gave their life.

    In addition to the personnel killed in action, one carrier and 150 aircraft were lost by U.S. forces during the battle. Japan sustained devastating losses, including more than 2,000 personnel, four carriers and over 250 aircraft. Their defeat at Midway, compounded by the loss of the carriers, eliminated the naval superiority Japan previously held over the United States and turned the tide in the Pacific.

    Boxer Commanding Officer Capt. Matthew Cieslukowski gave keynote remarks to close out the ceremony, explaining that leading up to the Battle of Midway, victory in the Pacific was uncertain.

    He charged the crew to think of the Sailors, Marines and Airmen fighting during the battle and spoke of a young aviator in a dive bomber seeing the world around them lighting up in smoke and fire, and flying towards danger—an enemy ship. He spoke of an engineer aboard USS Yorktown in a dark, flooded ship working to save the aircraft carrier. He then asked the crew to imagine being a Marine at Midway with a job to survive, all while taking nonstop enemy fire.

    “Imagine you’re sitting in your gun mount with sand bags around you watching plane after plane come after you, trying to end your life. And your job is to hold the line, try to save the runway and hold out because the Navy’s coming," said Cieslukowski. "It sounds fantastic, like from an action movie. But they weren’t action stars or stuntmen. They were people, just like you, who had the fortitude to do their job and change the world.”

    He stressed that while high-ranking military leaders played a key role, the personnel on the ground, in the air and at sea during Midway were who ultimately won the battle.

    “It wasn’t the admirals or the people back in Washington who changed the day; certainly they built the ships and had the plans, but it’s people like you and me, on ships like this, who charged into the unknown and forged their own destiny,” said Cieslukowski. “If you have any doubt that you have that spirit inside you, I’m telling you that you do. This history, this legacy is yours, and it is also our responsibility to make sure we’re ready and able to answer the call like they did should our time come.”

    June 2023 marks the 81st anniversary of one of America’s most historically significant naval victories. Fought on the high seas of the Pacific more than half a century ago, June 3-7, 1942, the Battle of Midway altered the course of WWII in the Pacific and thereby shaped the outcome of world events.

    Boxer is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship commissioned Feb. 11, 1995, and is the sixth ship to bear the name. Boxer’s crew is made up of approximately 1,200 officers and enlisted personnel and can accommodate up to 1,800 Marines.

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    Date Taken: 06.08.2023
    Date Posted: 06.08.2023 19:39
    Story ID: 446558

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