A World War II veteran who survived a fierce attack aboard the USS Yorktown (CV-5) during the iconic and pivotal Battle of Midway, will share his story at a free symposium at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum on June 5, the 75th anniversary of the attack. The event, titled “Remember the Battle of Midway,” will start at 7 p.m. aboard the USS Yorktown (CV-10).
John Hancock was firing at Japanese aircraft aboard the USS Yorktown (CV-5) on June 4, 1942, when a bomb exploded nearby, killing many of his friends and knocking him unconscious. He was ordered to abandon ship not long after regaining consciousness.
“We thought we were going to capsize,” Hancock said. “Everybody went in the water and the Captain was the last one to leave. I was picked up by a destroyer after floating for quite a while. We spent all night sleeping on the deck, covered with oil.”
The Battle of Midway, June 4-7, 1942, was a major turning point in World War II for the United States Navy. The victory in the Pacific Theater came just six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It allowed the Allied Forces to move into an offensive position.
The importance of the battle and details from the intense four-day fight will be the focus of a new 75th anniversary exhibit that will open June 5 – the same day as the symposium. The exhibit will feature a replica of the USS Yorktown’s (CV-5) flight deck that visitors can stand on to get an understanding of how much the aircraft carrier was leaning (22-degree list) when its crew was ordered to abandon ship. Artifacts from other carriers who were at the battle, the USS Enterprise (CV-6) and USS Hornet (CV-8), will be on display as well
“Our Museum Services team did a wonderful job designing and building this exhibit,” said Patriots Point Executive Director Mac Burdette. “You don’t realize how steep 22 degrees really is until you try to stand on that replica flight deck. To fight for your life aboard a sinking ship must have been terrifying.”
If visitors would like submit questions for John Hancock ahead of the June 5 symposium, they can email them to [email protected].
Additional Programming: On Monday, 5 June, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern, Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum will show the U.S. Navy and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s live broadcast from the Midway Atoll. This was the location 75 years ago where the famed naval battle was fought, and ultimately turned the tide of war the Pacific.
Battle of Midway U.S. Marine Corps veterans Colonel John F. Miniclier (USMC, retired) and Sergeant First Class Edgar R. Fox (who ultimately retired from the U.S. Army) will represent the handful of remaining survivors on the Midway Atoll. Joining them in presenting a wreath will be active duty U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Justin Culbertson, whose grandfather served in the Pacific during WWII as a crewmember on the vaunted USS Enterprise (CV 6), which was present at the Battle of Midway.
The ceremony, broadcast from the Midway Atoll, will also feature an introduction from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Acting Director Jim Kurth, brief remarks from Naval History and Heritage Command Director Sam Cox (Rear Adm. USN, Ret.), a wreath-laying while a lone bugler plays “Taps,” a moment of silence, and a performance of the first stanza of “Eternal Father.”