The Battle of Midway

Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Thomas Horton
 
IMDB:
7.7
Year:
1999
1,285 Views


A lonely outpost of coral and sand.

A thousand miles from anywhere.

Yet here,

on a blue morning in June, 1942,

America and Japan fought for control

of the Pacific

and changed the history of the world.

It was one of

the greatest Naval battles of all time,

a turning point in

the Second World War in the Pacific

Midway.

Here in a few bloody hours,

thousands of young men

sacrificed their lives.

Now to the shadowy waters off Midway

comes Robert Ballard,

the man who discovered the Titanic.

Ballard's quest is

to fiind the American

and Japanese aircraft carriers

that were sunk in the battle,

including the U.S.S. Yorktown.

But the ships are lost more

than three miles down

unseen, untouched on the ocean floor

the fiinal resting place

of many young men.

A story of martyrs and heroes,

admirals and airmen...

of secret codes and lucky hunches

of lost chances and

the painful cost of victory

all in one monumental day.

Tragedy and Triumph.

The battle for Midway.

Midway.

It is hard to ignore the archaeology

of war in this place.

Nearly a lifetime after the clash

at Midway,

four former soldiers walk

the island's white coral sands.

Two Americans, Bill Surgi

and Harry Ferrier,

and two Japanese, Haruo Yoshino

and Yuji Akamatsu

all veterans of the battle.

The last time the veterans were here,

they came as enemies.

Now, as respectful comrades, they will

explore the meaning of their ordeal.

I met the two Japanese gentlemen,

aviators, and, so I've made my peace.

And I have no animosity toward them.

They were warriors, like we were,

just doing their job.

Welcome aboard.

All in their 70s now,

the survivors have traveled thousands

of miles

to join undersea explorer

Robert Ballard

in the search for the five aircraft

carriers lost at Midway.

Ballard's quest,

sponsored by National Geographic,

is to fiind Bill Surgi's ship,

the Yorktown,

and Yuji and Haruo's carrier, the Kaga

It will be the voyage of a lifetime

for the vets.

May, 1942.

The United States and Japan are at war

It is five months

since the devastating sneak attack

on the Pacific fleet

at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Now Japan is poised for total

domination of East Asia and the Pacific.

Pearl Harbor.

In a dingy basement

beneath command headquarters,

Navy code breakers have pulled off

the greatest intelligence coup

of the Pacific War.

Out of coded enemy radio transmissions

they have teased out the secret plans

for the next major Japanese attack

A huge Japanese task force

is preparing

to strike a crippling blow against

the already weakened U.S. Navy.

It will happen at Midway, as early as

June 3rdless than a month away.

Yet now the U.S. Knows what's coming.

And the Americans will lie in wait,

hoping to ambush the Japanese fleet.

Day one of the Ballard expedition.

To begin their exploration of the past

the veterans travel with

Ballard 180 miles from Midway

to the place where

Ballard thinks the Yorktown went down.

There is no X to mark this spot,

just blue water and

the occasional gooney bird.

But below the waves, Ballard believes

he will discover history.

For here, young men came to fight

and to die.

I mean, to be at the very spot,

you know,

this is where the battle took place.

This is like going to Gettysburg,

this is like going to Bull Run,

this is like going to Normandy.

This is where a great chapter

in human history,

tragic in many ways,

was played out on the stage,

and we're on the stage right now.

While Ballard studies the terrain,

the veterans explore their own

landscape of memory and loss.

This is what I looked like back then.

This was taken before

the Pearl Harbor attack

I think this is what saved my life.

This is the hat I was wearing

at the time.

Very brave, very brave.

A little older, a little wiser.

Pearl Harbor, 1942.

Yorktown sailor Bill Surgi hears they

are headed for a place called Midway.

The word Midway was a mystique,

mystery,

an awesome word to banter about.

We were not fully aware of

what actually was going on there.

So all we knew was that

we needed help at Midway.

Yorktown will rendezvous

with her sister ships,

Hornet and Enterprise,

at a point approximately 325 miles

northeast of Midway.

Their mission:
To ambush the Japanese.

At the same time,

four japanese carriers,

Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu,

under the command

of Admiral Chuichi Nagumo,

are steaming for Midway.

These are the same machines

and men who bombed Pearl Harbor.

The Japanese know nothing of

the American trap awaiting them.

Many of the American airmen

and sailors headed toward Midway

have never faced enemy fire

including Yorktown radioman

and gunner Lloyd Childers.

Childers was attached

to a torpedo bomber squadron.

He can't forget an intelligence

briefiing he attended with other crews.

They said, if a 15plane squadron

of TBD's makes torpedo runs...

...against a determined Japanese fleet

if three of you get through

to deliver torpedoes,

you will have considered that

you have accomplished your mission.

I immediately became alarmed,

because the odds were not good.

Lloyd Childers will soon fiind out just

how bad the odds really are.

It's the seventh day of the expedition

Time to part the waves and

take the first glimpse of the bottom

three miles down.

Ballard's eyes will be the U.S. Navy's

remotely operated robot explorer

called ATV

equipped with lights and video cameras

Will Ballard fiinally, after years

of planning and enormous effort,

be able to fiind the downed Yorktown?

For the veterans,

the ATV is a time machine

carrying them back to a distant world

of fury and fire.

All stations, deploying the vehicle

into the water now.

I remember walking up and down those

decks and 56 years after the fact,

I'm gonna look at those decks again.

And it'll bring back memories.

The ATV has now traveled over two miles

and almost five decades.

The ocean bottom is getting close.

Twelve thousand feet

The depth Ballard found Titanic.

All stations...

past the onefivethousand feet.

Passing onefive thousand feet, aye.

Approaching 16,000, the depth Ballard

found the battleship Bismarck

Nearing the sea floor, deeper than

Ballard has ever gone before.

Under the relentless pressure

of the ocean depths,

key equipment on the ATV has imploded.

It has collapsed into itself,

reducing metal and glass to rubble.

The ATV is crippled.

Just how badly no one yet knows.

It's a disaster that may mean the end

of the expedition.

June 3, 1942

The white sands of Midway

are now heavily defended

by hundreds of

young American servicemen

and dozens of bombers,

fighters, torpedo planes.

The battle is less than 24 hours away.

Among those waiting is a small

sixplane torpedo bomber squadron.

Both the planes and their young crews

are untested in combat,

but the young pilots are eager

to face the Japanese.

Seventeenyearold Harry Ferrier

served as a radioman and gunner.

You don't think about the fact

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Matthew Eisen

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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