COMMEMORATING THE BATTLE OF THE CORAL SEA IN AUSTRALIA
An American Yorktown (CV-5) veteran attends 63rd Anniversary Commemoration of Coral Sea in Australia
Lieutenant Commander Otis Kight, USN (Ret.) was welcomed to Australia by the Australian-American Association's Sydney Division as guest of honour at several functions to mark the 63rd anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea which took place on 7-8 May 1942. LCdr Kight was accompanied to Australia by his son Bert.
LCdr Kight served in the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5) at the vital battles of Coral Sea and Midway. These two battles marked the turning of the tide against the seemingly invincible Imperial Japanese Navy and put an end to Japanese plans to invade Hawaii and Australia.
A catafalque party mounted by the Royal Australian Navy guards the Cenotaph in Martin Place, Sydney, at the commemoration service to mark the 63rd anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea. The official guests, including the representative of the President of the United States, are on the other side of the Cenotaph.
The commemoration ceremony was held on 2 May 2005 at the Cenotaph in Sydney's Martin Place. Mr Steven Smith, American Consul-General at Sydney, represented the President of the United States at the Martin Place ceremony.
Lieutenant Commander Otis Kight USN (Ret.) joins the Commander of the American Legion in Australia, Mr David Raymond,to lay a wreath on the Cenotaph. LCdr Kight is walking beside the President of the American Legion in Australia, Mrs Sonya Raymond.
LCdr Kight was also guest of honour at a Dinner-dance held by the Sydney Division of the Australian-American Association on 29 April and a Coral Sea Sunday church service at St Stephen's Uniting Church on 1 May.
Lieutenant Commander Kight is greeted outside St Stephen's Church for the Coral Sea Sunday service by Miss Ann Tolman, Vice President of the Sydney Division of the Australian-American Association. Miss Tolman was responsible for arranging LCdr Kight's attendance at Coral Sea functions as her Association's guest of honour.
Otis Kight was only seventeen when his ship took part in the first battle in naval history in which neither of the contending fleets came within sight of the other. The battle was conducted entirely with carrier and land-based aircraft. Yorktown received serious internal damage from one bomb hit at Coral Sea, but was still able to play a major role in the American victory at the vital Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942.
With the carrier USS Lexington sunk at Coral Sea and Yorktown badly damaged, it was difficult for those who took part in that battle to appreciate at the time that Japan had suffered its first major defeat at Coral Sea. The American and Australian warships at Coral Sea repulsed a powerful Japanese invasion force that was intending to capture Port Moresby, the last Allied base on the island of New Guinea. If Port Moresby had been captured, Australia would have faced heavier Japanese aerial bombardment and a grave risk that its lifeline to the United States would be severed or, at least, seriously impaired.
Speaking of his fellow Americans who died defending Australia at Coral Sea and Midway, LCdr Kight was moved to say, "Those people gave up their today so we could have our tomorrow. This is that tomorrow! So enjoy the hell out of it, and live it for the thousands or so people that died for us to have it."
Lieutenant Commander Kight (second from left) with two veterans who served in the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia at the Battle of the Coral Sea - Mr Keith Roberts (far left) and Mr David Hopkins, OAM (far right). Mr Roberts is president of the HMAS Australia Association. Mr James Bowen, Convenor of the Pacific War Historical Society is second from the right.
Lieutenant Commander Kight's personal account of the Battle of the Coral Sea and the hazards associated with life on board an aircraft carrier at war can be viewed on this web-site.
Australian-American Association ceremonies and functions to mark the 63rd anniversary of Coral Sea across Australia
Commemorative services and other functions to mark the 63rd anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea were also held by the Australian-American Association at the national capital, Canberra, and by the New South Wales, Queensland, South Australian, Tasmanian, Western Australian, and Northern Territory Divisions of the Association.
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