PHILIPPINE SEA -- Aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance (DDG 111), the Battle of Midway carries special meaning for the 353 “Quiet Warriors” who are forward-deployed with, and sail alongside, the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group.
The ship’s namesake, Adm. Raymond A. Spruance, is regarded as the modest victor at Midway, and received the title “Quiet Warrior” because of his humble and introspective leadership.
The historical battle’s multi-day engagement, spanning a sea-area the size of the contiguous United States, was spearheaded by Adm. Spruance, and its lessons and inspiration are keenly felt aboard. Spruance’s Officers, Chiefs, and Sailors assembled in a “sea of white” for a ceremony commemorating the pivotal Pacific battle that took place less than 1,000 miles from where the strike group sails as part of its regularly-scheduled deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility in the Western Pacific.
Eighty years ago on June 4, 1942, Adm. Spruance commanded Task Force 16, comprised of the most decorated aircraft carrier in naval history, USS Enterprise (CV 6). Once within range of the advancing Japanese fleet, he capitalized on the element of surprise to launch a decisive attack near the island of Midway.
Acting on a Japanese navy intelligence message, intercepted by U.S. Navy cryptographers and deciphered in Hawaii, Adm. Spruance uttered this phrase, which unleashed a heretofore unseen brand of naval warfare: “Launch the Attack!” These three words incited the planned ambush and repeated waves of torpedo bombers descending upon the Japanese fleet. When the smoke cleared, the American Navy sank four Japanese aircraft carriers and one heavy cruiser, altering the course of World War II. Spruance’s order is now the destroyer’s motto.
To honor the legacy of the destroyer’s namesake and the battle that change the course of war in the Pacific, Commanding Officer Cmdr. Douglas Robb and Command Master Chief Richard Meek laid a wreath into the ship’s wake during a 21-gun salute. In addition to the commemoration ceremony, which was presided by Executive Officer Cmdr. Christopher Ivey, USS Spruance celebrated the naval accomplishments of the crew in an all-hands recognition ceremony that included awarding Naval Achievement Medals, warfare qualification devices, and enlisted and officer promotions.
“As we commemorate the battle, we are right to wonder if, one day, we may find ourselves in a moment or a place like Midway,” Robb told the assembled crew. “Only time will tell. But if we do, we need only to look to those days when, 80 years ago, Americans from all 50 States and all walks of life teamed together to repel an overpowering naval force. In the process, they preserved the cause of liberty and changed the course of history. We are stronger because of their courageous service. We are lucky to be forever linked to the commander, Adm. Spruance, and we are privileged to be stewards of his legacy and the ship that bears his name.”
Spruance is on a regularly-scheduled deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability through alliances and partnerships while serving as a ready-response force in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region with Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group.