This is the United States Navy officer who saved Midway

Some of America’s heroes don’t dive on grenades or shoot down three or four dozen enemy planes. In fact, the hero who made Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance’s victory at Midway did so from a basement in Pearl Harbor.

According to a biography at the National Security Agency website, Commander Joe Rochefort was born in 1898. After enlisting in the Navy in 1918, he eventually earned a college degree and was sent into a variety of code-breaking and intelligence positions, as well as serving at sea. In 1941, he was transferred to Pearl Harbor as tensions with Japan rose.

Joe Rochefort prior to World War II. (U.S. Navy photo)

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Rochefort and his team ended up working to break what was known as the JN 25 code. Japan used this code to give out orders to ships. After the Doolittle Raid, Rochefort soon began to pick up messages that indicated Japan was planning an operation in the Central Pacific against a location known as “AF.” Rochefort soon believed the target was Midway.

In Washington, though, others had doubts, believing the Aleutian Islands or Hawaii were the main objective. According to the book “Incredible Victory” by Walter Lord, one of Rochefort’s officers soon came up with a plan to confirm where Japan was targeting. The American garrison at Midway was ordered to send an uncoded message that their water purification systems had failed.

Midway Atoll in 1942. (U.S. Navy photo)

Soon after the radio message was sent, coded Japanese messages reported that AF would be running low on fresh water. Rochefort had not only gotten the Japanese to reveal their objective, but he had convinced skeptics in Washington that Midway was the target.

History reveals what happened.

The American fleet got into position to ambush the Japanese at Midway. Caught by surprise by the unexpected presence of the U.S. Navy, Japanese Vice Adm. Chuichi Nagumo went back and forth between hitting Midway a second time or going after the American fleet.

By the time the Japanese carriers were preparing to strike the American fleet, SBD Dauntless dive-bombers struck, sinking three carriers, and then fatally crippling a fourth. Later, American code-breaking would set up the “Zero Dark Thirty” moment of the Pacific War: the aerial ambush of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto – the mastermind of the Pearl Harbor attack who was killed when Tom Lanphier shot down the Mitsubishi “Betty” bomber he was flying in.

Yamamoto_last_image_alive-operation-vengeance

The last photo of Isoroku Yamamoto taken before he was shot down by a P-38 flown by Thomas Lanphier. The Pacific Theater’s “Zero Dark Thirty” mission was made possible by codebreaking efforts. (Photo: Wikipedia)

After Midway, the embarrassed officers in Washington exacted a measure of revenge.

Rochefort was eventually pulled from his codebreaking efforts for the rest of the war, leaving the Navy as a captain in 1953. His efforts would gain popular recognition in the 1976 movie “Midway,” where he was played by Hal Holbrook.

In 1985, President Ronald Reagan would present Rochefort’s family with a Distinguished Service Medal for the contributions Joe Rochefort made to America’s greatest naval victory. The next year, Rochefort received the Medal of Freedom posthumously. To date, no United States Navy vessel has been named for Rochefort.

Below is a brief scene of Hal Holbrook playing Rochefort opposite Charlton Heston in “Midway.”

TOP ARTICLES
This is how Japan plans to hunt enemy subs

Japan decided to build a custom maritime patrol plane instead of converting and airliner - and the P-1 could blow away the competition.

This company owns a private fleet of aerial refueling tankers

Omega Air Refueling claims to be the only private air refueling service in the world.

VA chief fires head of department hospital in DC — again

The Department of Veterans Affairs says it's fired Brian Hawkins -- once again -- citing audits that found mismanagement at the facility.

This Special Forces medic's bravery in Vietnam has earned him the Medal of Honor

President Trump will award the Medal of Honor to retired Army medic Gary M. Rose who risked his life to provide care to his comrades in the Vietnam War.

These American WWII vets were awarded France's highest honor

Ten California men who fought overseas with the US forces have been awarded the French government's highest honor for their World War II service.

5 more epic military movie mistakes you have missed

With so many important aspects to pay attention to, filmmakers commonly make mistakes. Luckily we've brought our government-provided attention to detail!

The Air Force is getting ready to deploy this fearsome new gunship

The USAF plans to declare its newest gunship, the AC-130J Ghostrider, ready for combat this month, but the aircraft won’t actually deploy for a few years.

Turkey raises alarm with purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile system

Turkey finalized its purchase of the Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile system earlier this month, which can be used against NATO and US planes.

This is what the Afghans think of America's new war plan

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said the new US strategy in Afghanistan stands a better chance of working than previous plans.

Could the answer to Army marksmanship woes be found in the Corps?

The US Army has a marksmanship problem. Here are some thoughts the Army might want to take to heart when considering how to improve shooting skills.

THE MIGHTY SURVEY GIVE-AWAY

We want to hear your thoughts. Complete our survey for a chance to win 1 of 5 gaming consoles

COMPLETE SURVEY TO WIN