SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- One of the remaining plankowners of aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV 8), retired Lt. Cmdr. Richard Nowatzki, gave a speech aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) June 4 recollecting his personal experience of the Battle of Midway in 1942.
Nowatzki, a seaman at the time, was a direct participant in the Battle of Midway and spoke firsthand to the crew on his battle experiences.
"I was honored to be asked to come here," said Nowatzki. "At my age, I enjoy giving these talks, because people appreciate it."
The ship was commissioned within Nowatzki's first month aboard and by the next year was part of the Battle of Midway. The ship was later sunk in the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, Oct. 27, 1942.
America's crew appeared astonished at what Nowatzki had gone through in such a short time on the aircraft carrier.
"I was amazed and honored that he came and spoke to us," said Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Kimberly White, assigned to America.
"I try to make the people realize what the world was like at that time," Nowatzki said.
The Battle of Midway was a major turning point for the war. The battle not only gave the warfighters and the home front a morale boost, but it also changed naval warfighting strategies forever. It was arguably the greatest naval victory in United States history.
"I am extremely thankful to have a man that was actually there with us today," said Capt. Michael W. Baze, commanding officer of America, in his closing remarks. "We're honored and humbled by your presence."
Born in Freeport, Illinois, in 1923, Nowatzki grew up in Chicago and graduated high school in June 1941. That August, he said he made a life-changing decision to join the Navy and serve his country in battle. Nowatzki had a distinguished Navy career, enlisting at the rank of E-1 and eventually retiring as a lieutenant commander.