It’s summertime! What a joy to see visitors back and students enjoying your ship.
In July, we’ve welcomed teachers from all over the United States as part of our Midway Institute for Teachers (MIT) program. Our Snooze Crewz Overnight Adventures are booked through the end of the year and we’re starting to see some international guests back on board. The ship is rocking!
Your membership and development departments are busy as well. We’re finalizing events for the remainder of this year and into 2023. We’re looking forward to bringing the popular Steel Beach Party back next year, as well as more behind-the-scenes tours and Live the Adventure dinner events.
Planning is currently underway for our Midway veterans reunion in September. If you’re a former Midway sailor and have not received information about the Sept. 12-14 reunion, please reach out to Karen Garst to learn more at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next year will also bring lots of progress on Freedom Park at Navy Pier, as the plans and permitting process are currently in the works. Midway is working closely with the Port of San Diego and California Coastal Commission to develop a plan that speaks to honoring our veterans and freedoms, complements the current Midway education programs and guest experiences, and provides green spaces for all San Diegans to enjoy on the bay. We’ll be sure to share exciting updates as they happen.
As always, let us know when your next visit is so we can say hello. Enjoy a healthy and fun summer.
Until next time,
Dear Midway Members,
It’s been a pleasure getting to meet so many of you over the past few months through phone calls, emails and greetings on board. Whether you live down the street or across the country, what a wonderful feeling to be brought together through Midway Magic.
Through surveys and personal conversations, I’ve asked many of you what you love most about Midway? Thank you all for sharing your experiences as members. I wanted to also share my thoughts with you.
What I love most about Midway hasn’t changed since my first day on board more than six years ago. What makes us special are the people who are part of this family and the stories they tell, and boy, can the Midway family tell a good story. Whether long or short, comedic or heartbreaking, truthful or embellished, every day on board feels like I’m sitting around a campfire, and I can’t wait for the next story to begin.
Docents sharing about Midway’s rich history; Midway veterans standing in their old workspace remembering the laughter between shipmates; a volunteer sharing about a rewarding experience they had on board – these are the stories I love to take in and share with anyone who will listen.
I’m thrilled to be starting a new chapter in my Midway story as your membership manager and I ask that you don’t be shy in sharing your stories with us.
What made you become a member? What Midway traditions do you most look forward to each year? We love the opportunity to get to know our members and your stories will continue to shape Midway’s future.
Until we meet again, all our thanks for your continued support. I hope to see you on board soon!
All the Best,
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 18 years. I now know what people mean when they say how time flies when you’re having fun.
I never would have guessed that back in 2004 where we would be today. The Midway, what’s that? But today, when I’m at the grocery store someone will come up to me, having noticed my Midway polo shirt, to tell me “I love Midway. That was my favorite school fieldtrip.”
I can’t help but beam and say “Thanks! That’s my area.”
I joined Midway as the director of education nearly two decades ago, and when I look at how our educational programs have grown and flourished, I can’t help but reflect on what was and still is the secret of our success. The recipe includes a talented group of dedicated museum educators and professionals, volunteers, local teachers and youth leaders, and a lot of Midway Magic.
The programs and curriculums our team has created over the years have in many ways, set the standard for museums. Today, students from nearly every school district in San Diego County participate in our programs. This gives me tremendous pride.
We now host more than 50,000 K-12 students annually in math, science, history and social studies. In 2019, due to the pandemic, we created and launched a series of digital online programs for students in grades 2-8. We have now reached students in more than 25 states.
Our popular overnight program is one of the most sought after in the county with more than 6,000 boys, girls, civic, and church youth groups participating in our sleepover and leadership programs each year.
The Midway Institute for Teachers has been, and continues to be, a tremendous resource for educators around the country with focuses on World War II and the Cold War as well as the Korean and Vietnam Wars. It’s become a national program with participants coming not only from California and nearby western states, but as far away as New Hampshire, Virginia and Florida.
Midway has also distributed more than $3 million in educational scholarships through our No Child Left Ashore and Bravo Zulu scholarship funds.
I’ve had the privilege and honor to serve our museum from the very start. So much has happened and so many more exciting adventures lie ahead. Having made the difficult decision to retire, I wanted to take this opportunity to say thanks to the amazing Midway education team, Midway leadership and staff, volunteers, partners, and our members for this incredible professional opportunity and their continued dedication and support.
It makes me think of our 2nd grade Heroes program, where we learn the importance of respect, helping others, courage, and responsibility -— that’s what Midway is all about. We have the unique opportunity to make “good” cool, which is needed more than ever these days.
Thank you Midway for allowing me to be part of the crew.
Staff Sgt. Jimmie Doyle climbed into the gun turret of his B-24 Liberator nicknamed “Babes in Arms” on Sept. 1, 1944, to prepare for another World War II bombing mission. The 25-year-old McKinney, Texas native, along with the 10 members of his flight crew from the 424th Bombardment Squadron, would be attacking heavily-defended enemy positions that day in the Republic of Palau.
Jimmie, wearing his wife’s wedding ring on a gold chain around his neck, settled in for the long flight from Wadke Airfield on south Pacific island of Papua to their targets 700 miles north. The first part of the flight went according to plan. No surprises.
Their world changed quickly, however, as they started their bombing run. Coming immediately under intense enemy anti-aircraft fire, the B-24’s left wing was hit setting the engine on fire. The wing folded and broke off throwing the plane into an uncontrollable spin as it plummeted to the sea.
Jimmie, an assistant flight engineer, was not able to get out of the plane and perished in the crash. His body was never recovered.
The discovery was made by Project Recover (formerly the BentProp Project), a collaborative effort using the latest science and technology to find and repatriate American servicemembers missing in action (MIA) since World War II.
The non-profit organization’s founders and president gathered on the USS Midway Museum for an engaging presentation and panel discussion for Midway members on the importance of their mission.
“Sharing the work of Project Recover on the USS Midway Museum was extra special,” said Derek Abbey, Project Recover’s president and CEO. “We feel that our work is a way of bringing the community together to learn about the contributions made by our nation’s military and keeping these memories and stories alive across generations. That is exactly what the Midway represents and does every single day. Being able to work together on this mission is exceptional.”
“We started Project Recover, and its predecessor The BentProp Project, to help locate and return home American MIAs to honor their loss and to bring a sense of closure to these MIA families,” said Pat Scannon, one of the project’s co-founders.
Nearly 100 Midway members and their guests attended the panel discussion. They were enthralled by the Project Recover presentation.
“I found it rather exciting and informative,” said Mercadez Butcher, a Midway member. “The panel had lots of information to give us. I am all about learning something new and being able to tell others. I can’t wait for more events like this and to stand behind such a strong cause.”
“Midway members were engaged from the beginning and asked thoughtful questions,” said Pat. “I found the evening very exciting.”
Over the last 30 years, Project Recover has located more than 50 downed World War II aircraft associated with more than 185 American MIAs. However, when the project began, the focus wasn’t necessarily on the servicemembers who were lost in combat.
“When I first started, I really only thought about the aircraft, and didn’t think about the aircrews and their families,” said Pat. “But I realized there were these terrible consequences of war. We can look at a statistic and it doesn’t have much impact on us, but when it’s your family member, it doesn’t matter what the statistics are, what matters is the loss that you’ve had and how that affects you and your whole life from then on.”
The highlight of the panel discussion was a summary of a new documentary, “To What Remains.” The film not only tells the story of Project Recover and but chronicles several of its search and recovery missions for missing servicemembers lost in the Pacific during World War II.
“It was very sad and heartbreaking, but also a rush of happiness when they were able to reunite MIA’s with their family,” said Mercadez. “I couldn’t imagine how that felt to the families. After watching the film and going on their website, I was able to learn a bit more about their recover program and donated to them.”
“Unlike families of service members who have been declared killed in action (KIA) and returned home, families of service members who are missing in action have to live their lives across generations with the unknowns of the loss, as well as an empty home grave site and all the associated emotions,” said Pat. “We have witnessed that returning home these Americans has a profound effect on not just these families but also on their communities and the nation at large.”
The documentary was commissioned in 2014 by Imperative Entertainment. Following Project Recover for six years, the film crew not only recorded their detective work in the Pacific Ocean, but interviewed members of the team as well as the surviving family of those aviators who died during the war.
Pat was grateful for the amount of time the film crew dedicated to the making of the documentary as there was never any assurances that remains would be found at an aircraft wreckage site and, even when remains were discovered, positive identifications are not always made.
“They could have just documented the search,” said Pat. “But they chose to put the documentary on hold until recoveries occurred at some of the sites.”
The Project Recover team is continuing to research potential wreckage sites in 20 countries, and has built its data base to more than 500 lost aircraft that are associated with more than 3,000 MIAs from World War II through Operation Desert Storm.
Unlike the documentary, Project Recover’s mission doesn’t end with the film’s credits.
“It is vital that when we make a promise to our nation’s military members and their families that we work together as a community to keep it,” said Derek. “Project Recover is the community arm that is doing what it can to accomplish every American’s mission. Together we will do all that we can to bring our fallen home to their families.”
“Our work isn’t done,” said Pat. “Our work continues and it’s important to keep the momentum going. We still have a lot of work ahead of us.”
The arrival of the U.S. Navy’s large aircraft carriers USS Lexington (CV-2) and USS Saratoga (CV-3) at the end of the 1920s heralded an era of breathtaking progress in shipboard aviation. Built upon battlecruiser hulls, the new carriers completely overshadowed the comparatively primitive USS Langley (CV-1). Their massive size permitted the embarkation of air groups of nearly 100 aircraft each, coupled with speeds in excess of 30 knots, well exceeding that of the battleship fleet, raised the prospect of independent missions for carriers.
Although the aircraft carrier was initially intended to support the fleet’s battleships by protecting their all-important gunfire spotter planes—and denying the enemy his own—new horizons beckoned. Carrier-based aircraft could carry bombs and even torpedoes on attack missions, and the swiftness of the new behemoths demonstrated that carrier planes could indeed strike from over the horizon, catching ships and shore bases unaware.
The Navy’s annual exercise in 1929 validated the concept of independent carrier task forces with surprise attacks on the Panama Canal. In 1932, Admiral Harry Yarnell demonstrated the effectiveness of the carrier even further when he launched a dawn raid off Oahu with both Lexington and Saratoga’s air groups. The raiders arrived over Army and Navy installations with complete surprise and inflicted simulated damage on the fleet’s battleships inside Pearl Harbor.
The Washington Naval Treaty, which permitted the conversion of Lexington and Saratoga, allotted a total of 70,000 tons for further carrier construction for the U.S. Navy. After considerable debate, naval planners opted for smaller carriers to fulfill the allotment to provide more flight deck space for aircraft. The result was the USS Ranger (CV-4). Commissioned in 1934, Ranger was America’s first ship designed and built from the keel up as a carrier.
Just under half the displacement of Lexington, Ranger could nevertheless embark nearly as many aircraft. However, Ranger’s smaller hull necessitated a compact engineering plant, generating barely 30 knots maximum speed. Ranger proved to be a compromised ship with disappointing performance.
Meanwhile, the aircraft side of carrier aviation progressed steadily and rapidly. A major advance was the development of dive bombing, which solved the problem of hitting maneuvering ships with falling bombs. By diving steeply towards a target and releasing at a lower altitude, an aircraft could place a bomb much more accurately than dropping from level flight at high altitude. Though the technique was introduced in 1926, the evolution of more powerful engines permitted ever greater payloads and combat radiuses, so that by 1936, shipboard aircraft began to pose a lethal threat to capital ships. Additionally, better engines permitted refinements in airframe design with all-metal structures, retractable landing gear, and monoplane layouts becoming commonplace.
In 1926, Congress mandated that naval aviation squadrons, ships, and bases be commanded by “qualified” aviators only. By then, naval aviation was already a prestigious arm of the Navy, and several ambitious mid-career officers applied for aviation training in order to assume such commands. Unlike the carrier arms in Britain and Japan, this act infused U.S. naval aviation with officers of sufficient seniority to give it credible standing with the service’s other arms, and ultimately provided much of the top leadership during World War II.
With the hard-won lessons of Ranger in mind, designers opted to retain the advantages of maximum aircraft capacity, but with a better engineering plant. The results were the USS Yorktown (CV-5) and USS Enterprise (CV-6), commissioned in 1937 and 1938, respectively. Both carriers displaced 10,000 more tons than Ranger, but with aircraft complements and top speeds rivaling those of Lexington and Saratoga. Though exceedingly capable designs, Yorktown and her sister ships were vulnerable to damage, particularly with the concentrating of boilers and engines in shared spaces to save tonnage.
Even after the completion of the Enterprise, enough tonnage remained for another Ranger-sized carrier, the USS Wasp (CV-7). Completed in 1940, two years after the treaty impositions disappeared, Wasp featured novel weight saving measures such as an asymmetrical upper hull to balance the weight of an island, and the first deck-edge elevator. Unfortunately, squeezing into the 15,000-ton margin meant the new carrier utterly lacked any damage protection.
By decade’s end, the world was drifting steadily towards war, but U.S. carrier aviation was well prepared to hold the line until the inevitable wartime build up took hold and the United States was drawn into the global conflict. That wait for war, however, was shorter than many imagined.