By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
SAN DIEGO, CA (ANS – June 7, 2017) — On Monday, June 5, 2017, the Commander, U.S. THIRD Fleet, Commander, Naval Surface Forces, Commander, Naval Air Forces; Commander, Naval Special Warfare Command, and the Commander, Navy Region Southwest, hosted a VIP brunch and commemoration in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway on the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, California.
Admiral Scott H. Swift, Commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, shared remarks during brunch about the Battle of Midway. In in his speech, he honoured the survivors of the Battle of Midway who had passed away, including Captain Stanford E. Linzey, Jr., CHC, USN (Ret.), who was a sailor aboard the USS Yorktown when it was bombed and torpedoed. The guest speaker was Admiral John M. Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations.
Simultaneously, there was a small ceremony on Midway Atoll, conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pacific Region, which was live-streamed to audiences at a total of six official events around the United States. The five other events were conducted at the Honolulu, Hawaii, Navy Pier at the WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument; at Hilo, Hawaii, at the NOAA Mokupāpapa Discovery Center; in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Navy Memorial; in New Orleans, Louisiana, at The National World War II Museum; and in Pensacola, Florida, at the National Naval Aviation Museum.
From Midway Atoll, Rear Admiral Samuel J. Cox, USN (Ret.), who is the Director, Naval History and Heritage Command, shared some of the background of the Battle of Midway and conducted a wreath laying ceremony, followed by taps and “The Navy Hymn.” The posting of the colors and the playing of the National Anthem were part of the ceremony.
Spirituality and open expression of religious freedom were integral to the entire nationwide commemoration. At the San Diego location, Captain Tim Eichler, CHC, USN, invoked the presence of God with prayer. At the conclusion of the commemoration, he then bestowed a religious blessing upon the crowd, imparting God’s blessings upon those who attended, just as you would see in a religious service where God is worshiped.
Chaplain Jim Linzey was one of the invited VIPs who represented his father and mother. His late father, Captain Stanford Linzey, Jr., as a sailor served as a radioman and musician in the Navy Band aboard the USS Yorktown (CV), which was one of the three US Navy aircraft carriers to defeat the Imperial Navy at Midway.
The event was also commemorated at the Airman-Marine Memorial Chapel at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego where Commander Don Badog, the Command Chaplain, invited Chaplain Linzey to speak about the Battle of Midway. Chaplain Linzey stated: “The cryptanalysts at Pearl Harbor had broken the Imperial Navy’s naval codes. We knew their battle plans. The Imperial Navy approached Midway with 185 ships, 5,000 occupation troops, and four aircraft carriers. The U.S. Navy arrived with 33 ships and three aircraft carriers, the USS Yorktown, USS Enterprise, and the USS Hornet. On June 4, 1942, at 10:24 AM, the Battle of Midway began.
“As planes from the Imperial Navy attacked Midway Island, our planes bombed and torpedoed their aircraft carriers to destroy them or put them out of commission. In six minutes we destroyed three of their aircraft carriers and we sank the fourth before the day was over. The four aircraft carriers that attacked Pearl Harbor were sunk at Midway. The Battle of Midway was the most decisive naval battle in naval history.”
Then he shared this chilling story of bravery which he had previously learned from his father who was there:
“When the Hiryu was bombed, its planes were still in the air and followed our planes back to the Yorktown and bombed and torpedoes us. The Yorktown listed at 27 degrees on the port side. Captain Buckmaster ordered ‘Abandon ship.’ Nearly 2,000 sailors went down the ropes into the water and were rescued by destroyers. Two men were left in sick bay to die, Seaman First Class George K. Weiss of the Fourth Division and Norman M. Pichette of the Third Division. Weiss received a skull fracture when the Yorktown was attacked, and drifted in and out of consciousness; and Pichette received severe wounds from shrapnel in the abdomen. Pichette kept asking Weiss, ‘What can we do?’
“When Weiss became cognizant and realized the situation, he told Pichette to wrap a sheet around his wounded waist to hold in his intestines and organs, and try to get on deck to fire a machine gun to get the attention of the USS Hughes that was standing by. Pichette did just that. He managed to climb the mangled ladders connected to the slanting decks, from the third deck to topside. He found a machine gun and fired it. The Commanding Officer of the Hughes sent a boat to rescue Pichette. When he got on board he went unconscious. After a few minutes he regained consciousness long enough to mumble that there was another sailor in sick bay. Then he died. Norman M. Pichette died having performed one of the most heroic acts of the war in the Pacific. The Hughes sent a boat and rescued Weiss.”
Jim Linzey’s father, of McAllen, Texas, later became the first active duty Assemblies of God US Navy chaplain and the first to attain the rate of Captain, and wrote USS Yorktown at Midway. His mother, Dr. Verna May Hall Linzey of Coffeyville, Kansas, was a renowned Pentecostal revivalist and became an honorary U.S. military chaplain. She was the great, great grand-daughter of Chaplain George Hall who served in George Washington’s Continental Army, founded on June 14, 1775, and was not only the wife of a Navy chaplain, but also the mother of three military chaplains, and grandmother of a Navy Chaplain.
Photo captions: 1) Joint Service Color Guard aboard USS Midway, June 5, 2017 (Photo: Courtesy of U.S. Navy, taken by MC1 Paolo Bayas. Released). 2) Naval Leadership exercising freedom of religion in prayer, left to right in uniform: RADM Yancy Lindsey, Commander, Navy Region Southwest, RADM Tim Szymanski, Commander Naval Special Warfare Command, VADM Mike Shoemaker, Commander, Naval Air Forces and Commander Naval Air Force, Pacific, VADM Tom Rowden, Commander Naval Surface Forces and Commander Naval Surface Force, US Pacific Fleet, VADM Nora Tyson, Commander THIRD Fleet, ADM Scott H. Swift, Commander, US Pacific Fleet, USS Midway, June 5, 2017 (Photo: Courtesy of U.S. Navy, taken by MC1 3) Battle of Midway survivor, Captain Stanford and Verna Linzey, about 1995. 4) Chaplain Jim Linzey with Admiral John M. Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, aboard USS Midway, June 5, 2017 (Photo: Courtesy of U.S. Navy, taken by MC1 Paolo Bayas. Released). 5) Verna and Stan, about 1942. 6) Verna Linzey and her son, Evangelist James F. Linzey, with Dan Wooding when he interviewed them for his TV program.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 76, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 54 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He has written some 45 books, and has one radio show and two television programs all based in Southern California. While still living in London, Dan worked as a senior reporter for two of the UK’s top circulation newspapers and also did interviews for the BBC.
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