Sunday, May 29, 2011
HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY
UPDATE: If you're reading this Monday night, tune in to AMC and watch perhaps our favourite war movie: Midway.
The battle of Midway is fascinating because it is a Game Theorist's dream: nations acting on incomplete information attempting to maximize their military gains while minimizing their loss over a set period of time.
The battle of Midway occurred just after the battle of the Coral Sea which was at best a draw. However the US carrier Lexington was sunk in the battle, while the Japanese lost two carriers- one light carrier and one large carrier. That left the US with just three carriers to face the Japanese in the Pacific: The Hornet, The Enterprise and the Yorktown and the Yorktown was heavily damaged in the Coral Sea Battle. The carrier Saratoga was already out of action but not sunk and being refitted in San Francisco.
To make matters more intriguing, the US's greatest Admiral (perhaps ever) William "Bull" Halsey, was in the hospital with a bad case of shingles. Halsey choose Admiral Raymond Spruance, who had never commanded a carrier fleet to replace him.
There are fascinating volumes analyzing in detail the shifting fortunes of the battle which lasted over three days. There were attacks, counter attacks, and responses to the counter attacks. When the smoke cleared the Japanese plan to lure the US carriers into a trap had failed and the Japanese had lost four carriers and several other ships. The battle was "a" (not "the") turning point in the Pacific war. The battle has been called "the most stunning and decisive blow in the initial of naval warfare." We recommend Gordon Prange's seminal "Miracle at Midway" for further reading.
Remember that this day and this holiday weekend is about remembering those who have served and given, in the words of President Lincoln "the last full measure of devotion."