The Battle of Midway was a decisive naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Now, over 70 years later, it lies at the heart of a conflict between environmental protection and the preservation of revered naval history.
James M. D’Angelo, Chairman and Founder of the International Midway Memorial Foundation (IMMF) encouraged Congress to pass legislation that designated the Midway Islands as a National Memorial in 1999.
“The Battle of Midway stands as one of the top five naval battles in world history among Trafalgar, Salamis, Jutland and Marathon,” says D’Angelo. “The battle represents the virtue, courage and bravery of the American character. Its significance lies in the fact that the battle was the turning point of the war in the Pacific, and now more historians believe that it was the turning point of World War II in its entirety.”
However, Midway’s three islets are surrounded coral reefs and home to the biggest colony of Laysan albatrosses on Earth. The birds mate for life, nesting and raising their young on Midway. Other endangered species of albatross, seal and turtle also visit Midway.
The U.S. Navy turned over the jurisdiction of the Midway Islands to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in 1996. At that time, Midway Phoenix Corporation (MPC), a private company, signed a cooperative agreement to operate the infrastructure and a public visitation program. MPC ran these operations at minimal tax-payer expense and invested $15 million of its own money in Midway’s infrastructure, says D’Angelo.
“Draconian measures and restrictions placed by the USFWS on MPC impeded public visitation and led to the corporation leaving Midway in 2002,” he says. “USFWS requested their own feasibility study on public visitation in 2005 which recommended that the private sector operate the public visitation program on Midway. Since 2002, the USFWS permitted, at best, limited public visitation to Midway and in November 2012 completely closed the Midway Islands to public visitation,” says D’Angelo. Since then the infrastructure has been neglected.
“The Fish and Wildlife Service has every right and obligation to protect the wildlife, but they also have an obligation to protect the historic sites and the meaning of Midway,” says D’Angelo, highlighting that the battle of Midway resulted in the death of 2,500 Japanese and 307 Americans. Read on.
p.s. – Don’t let Trump know this is happening. He’ll open it up for drilling and build a Trump Tower on it. – ed