The popular films Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers keep the D-Day invasion on the annual calendar. Politicians mark the anniversary and old films of the event are quite familiar to us. No doubt, the Normandy invasion was the turning point in the war in Europe.
Although often relegated to obscurity by events in the European Theater, let us not forget that the Battle of Midway was fought on June 4-7, 1942, sixty-seven years ago. While Richard Frank (in his book Guadalcanal) has convinced me that the land, air, and sea battles on and around the island of Guadalcanal (running from August-November 1942) mark the real turning point in the War of the Pacific, nevertheless, at the very least the Battle of Midway ended the Japanese threat to Hawaii and the Western United States.
And while D-Day was long-planned and inevitable, the Battle of Midway was very much a moment by moment affair. If SBD pilot Wade McClusky had given up his search for the Japanese fleet when he should have, and failed to see that Japanese destroyer headed back toward the four Japanese carriers (Akagi, Kaga, Soryu and Hiryu), well then, the outcome could have been much different and all American tactical advantage lost. The actions of any one man (Eisenhower excepted), could not have changed the events of June 6. But at Midway, that was not the case. One sharped-eyed and determined Navy pilot did.
BTW--I can't wait for the Pacific Theater version of Band of Brothers (Click here: The Pacific (miniseries) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). Marine Corp legends "Chesty" Puller and John Basilone will be featured along with the operations of the First Marine Division.