On this day in history, June 7, 1942, the Battle of Midway — regarded as one of the most decisive U.S. victories in its war against Japan — came to an end.
The Battle of Midway was an Allied naval victory and a major turning point in World War II.
The battle was fought between Japanese and American carrier forces near the Midway Atoll, a territory of the United States in the central Pacific, from June 4-7, 1942.
On June 4, 1942, the Battle of Midway began.
Midway Island is a fairly isolated atoll, so named because it is midway between North America and Asia in the North Pacific Ocean, according to National Geographic.
Midway’s importance grew for commercial and military planners, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
In the 1930s, Midway became a stopover for Pan American Airways’ "flying clippers" — seaplanes crossing the ocean on their five-day transpacific passage, the same source indicates.
Midway was an incredibly strategic location, multiple sources say.
"The Imperial Japanese Navy planned to use it to secure their sphere of influence in the Pacific theater of the war," according to National Geographic.
"The Japanese had not lost a naval battle in more than 50 years, and had nearly destroyed the American fleet just six months earlier in a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii."
Pearl Harbor is about 1,300 miles east of Midway, says the same source.
In preparation, American military and intelligence forces worked together to defeat the Japanese.
Code breakers were able to decipher Japanese naval code, allowing American leaders to anticipate Japanese maneuvers, notes National Geographic.
Because of this, the U.S. Navy was then able to launch a surprise attack on the larger Japanese fleet in the area and the Battle of Midway turned the tide of the war, says the same source.
The American success at Midway was a major victory over the Imperial Japanese Navy as all four Japanese carriers — Akagi, Hiryu, Kaga and Soryu — had participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor, says the National WWII Museum.
"Sinking those Japanese carriers represented a resounding defeat over the enemy fleet which had wrought such destruction only six months before," the same source says.
The Imperial Japanese Navy would not be capable of overcoming the loss of four carriers and over 100 trained pilots — and with the loss at Midway, the Japanese offensive in the Pacific was overturned and the United States began offensive action in the Pacific, says the National WWII Museum.
The Battle of Midway is widely considered the most decisive U.S. victory of that period.
It is often referred to as the turning point of the war in the Pacific.
Midway Atoll has since been designated as a National Memorial to the Battle of Midway, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.