Eighty years ago, May 22, 1942, in the south Pacific, the badly damaged USS Yorktown, American aircraft carrier, was steaming back to Pearl Harbor. Two weeks earlier the Yorktown and anther large American fleet carrier, the USS Lexington, had fought it out with Japanese carriers in the Battle of the Coral Sea. The Lexington was sunk and the Yorktown hit hard. The Japanese had three carriers in the battle, and they did not escape unscathed. The light carrier Shoho was sunk, the fleet carrier Shokaku was damaged, and the fleet carrier Zuikaku lost most of its planes and pilots. After the battle, both fleets left the area and turned toward their home ports.
The follow-up to the battle was most important. The Shokaku and the Zuikaku remained out of action for months. The Yorktown was hastily patched together and sent back into action in the critical Battle of Midway on June 4, thus enabling us to fight the attacking Japanese armada on more even terms.