On 75th anniversary of battle, Chicago mulls renaming Midway airport after Obama

Chicago's Midway Airport, once the busiest airport in the world, got its name in 1949 when the city fathers decided to rename the Chicago Municipal Airport to memorialize one of the most important military engagements in American military history, the Battle of Midway.

Now the city is considering renaming the facility again - this time, after its favorite son, Barack Obama.

Chicago Tribune:

"We have to, in some way, whether it’s President Obama or in the other case, Dr. Brazier, acknowledge people who have done significant things. We have an airport, two of them, named after, you know, Midway Airport, O’Hare Airport,” Emanuel said. “These are people who have been transformative in the city of Chicago. But we have airports named after battleships.”

Actually, O’Hare is named after World War II Navy pilot Edward “Butch” O’Hare, and Midway was given its name by city officials in 1949 in remembrance of the 1942 Battle of Midway, a crucial battle in the Pacific during World War II.

Emanuel did not take questions from reporters following the forum. Update: Later, Emanuel spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said the mayor has no plans to rename either airport.

The mayor gave his answer in acknowledging he erred in seeking to name a North Side high school after the president, when Obama got his start in politics on the South Side.

“Look, I made a mistake, and I was quick to change it. I’m not perfect. When I make a mistake, I hear it and change it,” Emanuel said. “And I don’t have a problem saying that. But I won’t make an apology for the fact I think President Obama is a great president. I wanted to honor him. I wanted to be the city to have the first high school named after him. In my rush to do it, I clearly offended people, so I backed off of it. I will never back off of my love and affection for a great president. But I made a mistake.”

It's pretty shocking that a Chicago politician would ignore the fierce rivalry between the North and South side when trying to name a high school after the president. Hizzoner ended up ticking off black Chicagoans for no good reason.

But renaming Midway after Obama? The Battle of Midway is considered the most crucial naval engagement of the war in the Pacific. The performance of heroic American aviators, the coolness of our commanders, the technological wizardry that made the battle possible in the first place, and a couple of lucky breaks combined to deliver a massive blow to the enemy from which they never fully recovered.

If one were to imagine a scale upon which was placed Obama's accomplishments on one side, and the accomplishments of the US Navy at the Battle of Midway on the other, how do you think the scales would tip?

A few words about the battle might give you a better idea.

By the beginning of 1942, US codebreakers had broken a large part of one of the Japanese naval ciphers, giving the navy a heads up about Japanese intentions. Using some clever deductions, naval intelligence was able to pinpoint the enemy's next target; Midway Island.

But this was less than 6 months after Pearl Harbor and the Pacific Fleet was still crippled. In an age when it was believed that battleships still ruled the waves, we had only 3 aircraft carriers and a smattering of support vessels to counter the Japanese move.

But the commander of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester Nimitz, sent the carriers to Midway anyway, believing his foreknowledge of Japanese intentions gave him an advantage.

He was right. Japanese commander Admiral Yamamoto had no idea the carriers were within 2000 miles of his invasion fleet when he unleashed a savage attack on our base on Midway. The damage was extensive, but the base was still operational. Yamamoto prepared a second wave to finish off Midway's defenders.

As  Yamamoto's planes were in the middle of rearming, word came from a scout plane of the American carriers.  But at this point, Yamamoto's fate was sealed. American PBY's had discovered his position and more than 100 planes from the Enterprise, Hornet, and Lexington were zeroing in on the enemy fleet, which included 4 of the aircraft carriers that took part in the Pearl Harbor attack.

The American attack was hastily planned as Admiral Jack Fletcher took the huge gamble of launching his planes at maximum range in order to catch the enemy flat footed. But in so doing, there was little coordination between the bombers and torpedo planes and their fighter escorts. Most squadrons came in piecemeal and were cut to pieces.

But parts of three bomber squadrons managed to penetrate the Japanese defenses and, with Yamamoto's planes in the process of changing their armament from bombs to torpedoes leaving ordanance all over the flight deck, the American planes struck, blowing 3 Japanse carriers completely out of the water and crippling a fourth (it was later scuttled). It was a titanic blow from which  Yamamoto and the Japanese navy never recovered.

Now, let's weigh those maginificent accomplishments against the deeds of President Obama.

 

 

I thought so.

Chicago's Midway Airport, once the busiest airport in the world, got its name in 1949 when the city fathers decided to rename the Chicago Municipal Airport to memorialize one of the most important military engagements in American military history, the Battle of Midway.

Now the city is considering renaming the facility again - this time, after its favorite son, Barack Obama.

Chicago Tribune:

"We have to, in some way, whether it’s President Obama or in the other case, Dr. Brazier, acknowledge people who have done significant things. We have an airport, two of them, named after, you know, Midway Airport, O’Hare Airport,” Emanuel said. “These are people who have been transformative in the city of Chicago. But we have airports named after battleships.”

Actually, O’Hare is named after World War II Navy pilot Edward “Butch” O’Hare, and Midway was given its name by city officials in 1949 in remembrance of the 1942 Battle of Midway, a crucial battle in the Pacific during World War II.

Emanuel did not take questions from reporters following the forum. Update: Later, Emanuel spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said the mayor has no plans to rename either airport.

The mayor gave his answer in acknowledging he erred in seeking to name a North Side high school after the president, when Obama got his start in politics on the South Side.

“Look, I made a mistake, and I was quick to change it. I’m not perfect. When I make a mistake, I hear it and change it,” Emanuel said. “And I don’t have a problem saying that. But I won’t make an apology for the fact I think President Obama is a great president. I wanted to honor him. I wanted to be the city to have the first high school named after him. In my rush to do it, I clearly offended people, so I backed off of it. I will never back off of my love and affection for a great president. But I made a mistake.”

It's pretty shocking that a Chicago politician would ignore the fierce rivalry between the North and South side when trying to name a high school after the president. Hizzoner ended up ticking off black Chicagoans for no good reason.

But renaming Midway after Obama? The Battle of Midway is considered the most crucial naval engagement of the war in the Pacific. The performance of heroic American aviators, the coolness of our commanders, the technological wizardry that made the battle possible in the first place, and a couple of lucky breaks combined to deliver a massive blow to the enemy from which they never fully recovered.

If one were to imagine a scale upon which was placed Obama's accomplishments on one side, and the accomplishments of the US Navy at the Battle of Midway on the other, how do you think the scales would tip?

A few words about the battle might give you a better idea.

By the beginning of 1942, US codebreakers had broken a large part of one of the Japanese naval ciphers, giving the navy a heads up about Japanese intentions. Using some clever deductions, naval intelligence was able to pinpoint the enemy's next target; Midway Island.

But this was less than 6 months after Pearl Harbor and the Pacific Fleet was still crippled. In an age when it was believed that battleships still ruled the waves, we had only 3 aircraft carriers and a smattering of support vessels to counter the Japanese move.

But the commander of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester Nimitz, sent the carriers to Midway anyway, believing his foreknowledge of Japanese intentions gave him an advantage.

He was right. Japanese commander Admiral Yamamoto had no idea the carriers were within 2000 miles of his invasion fleet when he unleashed a savage attack on our base on Midway. The damage was extensive, but the base was still operational. Yamamoto prepared a second wave to finish off Midway's defenders.

As  Yamamoto's planes were in the middle of rearming, word came from a scout plane of the American carriers.  But at this point, Yamamoto's fate was sealed. American PBY's had discovered his position and more than 100 planes from the Enterprise, Hornet, and Lexington were zeroing in on the enemy fleet, which included 4 of the aircraft carriers that took part in the Pearl Harbor attack.

The American attack was hastily planned as Admiral Jack Fletcher took the huge gamble of launching his planes at maximum range in order to catch the enemy flat footed. But in so doing, there was little coordination between the bombers and torpedo planes and their fighter escorts. Most squadrons came in piecemeal and were cut to pieces.

But parts of three bomber squadrons managed to penetrate the Japanese defenses and, with Yamamoto's planes in the process of changing their armament from bombs to torpedoes leaving ordanance all over the flight deck, the American planes struck, blowing 3 Japanse carriers completely out of the water and crippling a fourth (it was later scuttled). It was a titanic blow from which  Yamamoto and the Japanese navy never recovered.

Now, let's weigh those maginificent accomplishments against the deeds of President Obama.

 

 

I thought so.

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