|Midway Atoll (or Midway Island or Midway Islands, pronounced /ˈmɪdweɪ/; Hawaiian: Pihemanu Kauihelani ) is a 2.4 mi▓ (6.2 km▓) atoll located in the North Pacific Ocean (near the northwestern end of the Hawaiian archipelago), about one-third of the way between Honolulu and Tokyo. Midway Atoll is an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United States. It is less than 140 nmi (259 km; 161 mi) east of the International Date Line, about 2,800 nmi (5,200 km; 3,200 mi) west of San Francisco and 2,200 nmi (4,100 km; 2,500 mi) east of Tokyo. It consists of a ring-shaped barrier reef and several sand islets. The two significant pieces of land, Sand Island and Eastern Island, provide habitat for millions of seabirds.|
The location of Midway in the Pacific became important to the military. Midway was a convenient refueling stop on transpacific flights, and was also an important stop for Navy ships. Beginning in 1940, as tensions with the Japanese were rising, Midway was deemed second only to Pearl Harbor in importance to protecting the U.S. west coast. Airstrips, gun emplacements and a seaplane base quickly materialized on the tiny atoll. The channel was widened, and Naval Air Station Midway was completed. Architect Albert Kahn designed the Officer's quarters, the mall and several other hangars and buildings. Midway was also an important submarine base. Midway's importance to the U.S. was brought into focus on December 7, 1941 with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (Midway was also attacked for the first time on December 7, 1941). Six months later, on June 4, 1942, a naval battle near Midway resulted in the U.S. Navy exacting a devastating defeat of the Japanese Navy. This Battle of Midway was, by most accounts, the beginning of the end of the Japanese Navy's control of the Pacific Ocean.