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The True Cost

The True Cost

4 June 1942 was not the end of the Imperial Japanese Navy. While a decisive victory that slowed the Japanese advance in the Central Pacific, the enemy continued to advance in other parts of the Pacific and China Burma India theaters of war.

The Japanese lost four of their large fleet aircraft carriers and several other ships. They also lost a lot of airplanes and more importantly, the pilots and other aircrew that were in those planes. The Japanese had a policy of not rotating experienced combat pilots back to Japan to train new pilots.

It was “fly until you did” personnel management an in the end, that was their real loss at Midway. Ships and airplanes can be replaced, but not experienced pilots.

This loss was a continuation of what started at the Battle of the Coral Sea. While the US Navy lost a fleet carrier and the Japanese lost only a light carrier, the Japanese lost a lot of experienced pilots. In addition two of it’s fleet carriers were damaged and had to return to damage for repairs. Thus, they were not available a month later to participate in the Battle of Midway. Had they and their aircrews been there it’s very likely that the Japanese would have won there.

There were still more than three years of tough fighting to be done before the Japanese were defeated. Guadalcanal was a blood bath for both sides and the issue was in doubt for many months before the Japanese were defeated.

The United States would suffer significant losses in the Pacific, including the Battle of Savo Island which was a decisive Japanese victory. Still, the tide had started to turn and the Japanese were now on the defensive in the Pacific.

A Dawn Like Thunder: The True Story of Torpedo Squadron Eight by Robert J. Mrazek, is the story of the men of Torpedo Squadron 8 before, during, and after the Battle of Midway. 

Never Call Me a Hero: A Legendary American Dive-Bomber Pilot Remembers the Battle of Midway by N. Jack “Dusty” Kleiss has the account of his actions at Midway. It also has a lot of information on the pre war US Navy. Kleiss was involved in hitting three of the four carriers sunk at Midway and was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions. 

Incredible Victory: The Battle of Midway by Walter Lord. One of the, if not the first definitive history of the battle. May be a bit dated now, but it was the first book on the battle I read back when I was young. 


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After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it? I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs. I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non EMS subject matter. Thanks for visiting.