John P. Rossi: Midway Set Stage for U.S. Win in World War II

Roundup: Talking About History

John P. Rossi is a professor emeritus of history at La Salle University.

The Duke of Wellington said his victory at Waterloo was "the nearest run thing you ever saw." Seventy years ago today, the United States fought a naval battle against Japan that, like Waterloo, was both close and decisive.

The battle of Midway, which began on June 4, 1942, set the tone for the Pacific war and launched the United States on the path to eventual victory. It ended a six-month series of Japanese victories dating back to Pearl Harbor that had plunged the American public into a state of despair. The fall of the Philippines, with its horrific "Bataan Death March," and the capture of Guam and Wake Island, left the United States with no bases west of Hawaii.

Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, the man who had planned Pearl Harbor, believed the Japanese had created a defensive perimeter far out into the Pacific. But two events during the string of Japanese victories convinced him that he must draw the United States into a major battle....

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