Midway, island group (2 sq mi/5.2 sq km), central Pacific, c.1,150 mi (1,850 km) NW of Honolulu, comprising Sand and Eastern islands with the surrounding atoll. Discovered by Americans in 1859, Midway was annexed in 1867. A cable station was opened in 1903. In 1935, Midway became a commercial air station of Pan American Airways, and in 1941 a U.S. naval base was opened. The last navy facilities on the island closed in 1993. In 1996 the islands were transferred from the U.S. Navy to U.S. Dept. of the Interior, which manages them as a national wildlife refuge. The battle of Midway (June 3–6, 1942), one of the decisive Allied victories of World War II, involved the island but mainly occurred between opposing fleets at sea. Fought mostly with aircraft, it resulted in the destruction of four Japanese aircraft carriers, crippling the Japanese navy.
See C. L. Symonds, The Battle of Midway (2011).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.