PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A U.S. Naval War College professor is using models of ships and aircraft that he spent 20 years making to tell the story of the Battle of Midway.
About 20 models were displayed at the college in Newport, Rhode Island, on Friday. Professor Angus Ross said he finally has enough models to tie the story together.
Sunday is the 75th anniversary of the day Japanese fighter planes attacked U.S. forces on the strategic Pacific island. The American victory was a turning point in World War II's Pacific Theater.
Ross focused on the young men on both sides who did the fighting, not the high-ranking officers who are widely known.
Ross, a retired Royal Navy commander, said it's important to tell their stories to show the human side to warfare.
"They would've been terrified out of their wits," he said. "Thankfully World War II went our way. But in 1942, there was no guarantee that it was going to. People need to understand that, otherwise something we might face today may seem unprecedented when really that's not true."
Ross started making the models after he arrived at the college in 1996. He noticed that though the college held Battle of Midway commemorations, there was nothing to show what the battle looked like.
When he talks about them, Ross said he shares intertwined stories of courageous fighter pilots like John Smith "Jimmy" Thach, who successfully developed a new combat flight formation for U.S. forces, and Masanobu Ibusuki, who patrolled for hours above the Japanese fleet to try to protect it.
Two other model-makers Ross met at the college contributed some of their work to the collection. Ross said the project is far from finished— there are many more models to make and stories to tell.