June 4, 1942 was the commencement day of quite possibly the most important naval/air, battle of WWII, that of the Battle of Midway. This battle came about 6 months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and it lasted about 4 days (June 3-6). In brief, much of the Japanese naval fleet was headed toward Midway Atoll to launch an attack by which the Japanese hoped to destroy the U.S. fleet's capital ships (basically its aircraft carriers), destroy the U.S. air bases on Midway, and then to occupy Midway and establish their own air base their. This would have effectively allowed Japan free reign in the Pacific, and they could very well have carried out their plans to conquer all of the Pacific island nations, and then possibly would have attacked Hawaii with a similar plan as at Midway.
The thing was though that the U.S, had figured out what the Japanese had planned, and U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Nimitz sent a large naval force to counterattack the Japanese fleet. With the naval air power of the U.S. fleet, combined with the U.S. air power on Midway, the U.S. forces inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese fleet. There are different statistics in different reference materials, but all seem to agree that the Japanese lost at least 4 carriers, and a heavy cruiser. Here are the statistics from one source that also tells how many aircraft and men were lost:
"The Japanese lost 4 carriers, a heavy cruiser, 3 destroyers, some 275 planes, at least 4,800 men, and suffered heavy damage among the remaining vessels of their fleet. American losses included on(e) carrier, the Yorktown, a destroyer, about 150 planes, and 307 men." ( Reference source: http://www.worldwar2history.info/Midway/)
The effect of this battle was that the U.S. naval forces in the Pacific were now about equal in strength to those of the Japanese. This was therefore one of the most pivotal naval/air battles of the war.
I guess you have seen I keep saying naval/air battles of the war, as opposed to simply saying it was a naval battle. The reason for this is, as best I can decipher and recollect from my history lessons, that the naval ships of each navy never once fired upon one another in this battle. All of the fighting against the ships was done from airplanes, either carrier based or land based (those from Midway). Of course there was some other fighting done against the Japanese aircraft as from ground fire from Midway onto those Japanese aircraft that tried to wipe out the land based air bases; but as it stood and still does, this was one heck of a major naval/air battle in which the ships never fired upon one another.
Never forget our enemies nor our protectors, and here is why: We should never forget they who tried to conquer us, lest they or others like them may succeed in the future; and we should never forget they who protected us, lest they or others like them fail to do so in the future. We owe those brave Americans of the past, and the present, the fact that we are Americans today.
All the best,