It was 70 years ago this week that the Battle of Midway took place in the Pacific. The battle changed the tide of World War II, after the bombing at Pearl Harbor.
George Gianakos, who now lives in Meridian, fought in that battle while in the Navy. At the time he was just shy of 19. For his efforts, he was honored by NAS Meridian.
'It's something I'm not used to,' says Gianakos.
'Going to Pearl Harbor was significant to him,' says Gianakos' son, Kris. 'The entire strength of the U.S. Navy was upside down and burning in Pearl Harbor and this Battle of Midway occurred 6 months after that. So, the world was very unsettled. Significantly speaking, he appreciates the opportunities he had to serve his country and he did it for 30 years and in three wars."
Officials from the District 4 Veterans of Foreign Wars unit say sharing the history of heroes like Mr. Gianakos and other veterans is imperative for the future.
'A lot of our history is not taught in schools anymore, but the true history is guys like Mr. G and history,' says Norman Copeland, who is Senior Vice Commander for the local District 4 VFW. 'What he did in the military is so important to the youth of today. Patriotism is a lost art. Americanism is a lost art. We're starting to fall out of love with our country and we need to fall back in love.'
Despite the fact that the United States won the four day Battle of Midway, it was still dealt heavy losses. In all, 300 American lives were taken, two ships, an aircraft carrier and a destroyer sunk. Also, 150 aircraft were destroyed. The Japanese losses were much greater.