Operation Vengeance-Revenge for Pearl Harbor.

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Admiral Yamamoto, commander of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Combined Fleet, was the Harvard-educated, poker-playing mastermind of the December 7, 1941, attack.

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On April 14, 1943, naval intelligence scored another code-breaking coup. The message began: “On April 18 CINC Combined Fleet will visit RXZ, R–, and RXP in accordance with the following schedule . . .” Adm. Isokoru Yamamoto was planning an inspection visit of Japanese bases in the upper Solomon Islands. The information immediately went from Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitznimitz

to Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox who delivered the news to President Franklin Roosevelt. Reportedly, the president’s response was, “Get Yamamoto.” Regardless of whether or not the president actually said those words, the order was given: kill the mastermind of the Pearl Harbor raid.

 

 

 

 

As Yamamoto was viewed as the architect of the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt instructed Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox to give the mission the highest priority.

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Consulting with Admiral William “Bull” Halsey, Commander South Pacific Forces and South Pacific Area, Nimitz ordered planning to move forward. Based on the intercepted information, it was known that on April 18 Yamamoto would be flying from Rabaul, New Britain to Ballale Airfield on an island near Bougainville.

Though only 400 miles from Allied bases on Guadalcanal, the distance presented a problem as American aircraft would need to fly a 600-mile roundabout course to the intercept to avoid detection, making the total flight 1,000 miles. This precluded the use of the Navy and Marine Corps’ F4F Wildcats or F4U Corsairs. As a result, the mission was assigned to the US Army’s 339th Fighter Squadron, 347th Fighter Group, Thirteenth Air Force which flew P-38G Lightnings. Equipped with two drop tanks, the P-38G was capable of reaching Bougainville, executing the mission, and returning to base.

Overseen by the squadron’s commander, Major John W. Mitchell,

 

53742e57bbc2cb8e4cb1078991ee8d12planning moved forward with the assistance of Marine Lieutenant Colonel Luther S. Moore. At Mitchell’s request, Moore had the 339th’s aircraft fitted with ship’s compasses to aid in navigation. Utilizing the departure and arrival times contained in the intercepted message, Mitchell devised a precise flight plan that called for his fighters to intercept Yamamoto’s flight at 9:35 AM as it began its descent to Ballale.

Knowing that Yamamoto’s aircraft was to be escorted by six A6M Zero fighters, Mitchell intended to use eighteen aircraft for the mission.mitsubishi-a6m-type-0-zero-fighter-01While four aircraft were tasked as the “killer” group, the remainder was to climb to 18,000 feet to serve as top cover to deal with enemy fighters arriving on scene after the attack. Though the mission was to be conducted by the 339th, ten of the pilots were drawn from other squadrons in the 347th Fighter Group. Briefing his men, Mitchell provided a cover story that the intelligence had been provided by a coastwatcher who saw a high ranking officer boarding an aircraft in Rabaul.

Departing Guadalcanal at 7:25 AM on April 18, Mitchell quickly lost two aircraft from his killer group due to mechanical issues. Replacing them from his cover group, he led the squadron west out over the water before turning north towards Bougainville.

Flying at no higher than 50 feet and in radio silence to avoid detection, the 339th arrived at the intercept point a minute early. Earlier that morning, despite the warnings of local commanders who feared an ambush, Yamamoto’s flight departed Rabaul. Proceeding over Bougainville, his G4M “Betty” and that of his chief of staff, were covered by two groups of three Zeros

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Mitchell’s flight of four led the squadron at low altitude, with the killer flight, now consisting of Lanphier, Barber, and spares 1st Lt. Besby F. Holmes and 1st Lt. Raymond K. Hine, immediately behind. Mitchell, fighting off drowsiness, navigated by flight plan and dead reckoning. This proved to be the longest fighter-intercept mission of the war and was so skillfully executed by Mitchell that his force arrived at the intercept point one minute early, at 09:34, just as Yamamoto’s aircraft descended into view in a light haze. The P-38s jettisoned the auxiliary tanks, turned to the right to parallel the bombers, and began a full power climb to intercept them.

The tanks on Holmes’s P-38 did not detach and his element turned back toward the sea. Mitchell radioed Lanphier and Barber to engage, and they climbed toward the eight aircraft. The nearest escort fighters dropped their own tanks and dived toward the pair of P-38s. Lanphier, in a sound tactical move, immediately turned head-on and climbed towards the escorts while Barber chased the diving bomber transports. Barber banked steeply to turn in behind the bombers and momentarily lost sight of them, but when he regained contact, he was immediately behind one and began firing into its right engine, rear fuselage, and empennage. When Barber hit its left engine, the bomber began to trail heavy black smoke. The Betty rolled violently to the left and Barber narrowly avoided a mid-air collision. Looking back, he saw a column of black smoke and assumed the Betty had crashed into the jungle. Barber headed towards the coast at treetop level, searching for the second bomber, not knowing which one carried the targeted high-ranking officer.

 Barber spotted the second bomber, carrying Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Matome Ugaki and part of Yamamoto’s staff, low over the water off Moila Point, trying to evade an attack by Holmes, whose wing tanks had finally come off. Holmes damaged the right engine of the Betty, which emitted a white vapor trail, but his closure speed carried him and his wingman Hine past the damaged bomber. Barber attacked the crippled bomber and his bullet strikes caused it to shed metal debris that damaged his own aircraft. The bomber descended and crash-landed in the water. Ugaki and two others survived the crash and were later rescued. Barber, Holmes and Hine were attacked by Zeros, Barber’s P-38 receiving 104 hits. Holmes and Barber each claimed a Zero shot down during this melee, although Japanese records show that no Zeros were lost. The top cover briefly engaged reacting Zeros without making any kills. Mitchell observed the column of smoke from Yamamoto’s crashed bomber. Hine’s P-38 had disappeared by this point, presumably crashed into the water.
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Running close to minimum fuel levels for return to base, the P-38s broke off contact, with Holmes so short of fuel that he was forced to land in the Russell Islands. Hine was the only pilot who did not return. Lanphier’s actions during the battle are unclear as his account was later disputed by other participants, including the Japanese fighter pilots. As he approached Henderson Field, Lanphier radioed the fighter director on Guadalcanal that “That son of a bitch will not be dictating any peace terms in the White House”, breaching security. Immediately on landing (his plane was so short on fuel that one engine quit during the landing rollout) he put in a claim for shooting down Yamamoto.

A success, Operation Vengeance saw the American fighters down both Japanese bombers, killing 19, including Yamamoto. In exchange, the 339th lost Hines and one aircraft. Searching the jungle, the Japanese found Yamamoto’s body near the crash site. Thrown clear of the wreckage, he had been hit twice in the fighting.

Lieutenant Hamasuna noted Yamamoto had been thrown clear of the plane’s wreckage, his white-gloved hand grasping the hilt of his katana sword, his body still upright in his seat under a tree. Hamasuna said Yamamoto was instantly recognizable, his head tilted down as if deep in thought. A post-mortem of Yamamoto’s body indicated two bullet wounds, one to the back of his left shoulder, and a separate bullet wound to his left lower jaw, that appeared to exit above his right eye. The Japanese navy doctor examining Yamamoto’s body determined the head wound killed Yamamoto. (These more violent details of Yamamoto’s death were hidden from the Japanese public, and the medical report whitewashed, this secrecy “on orders from above.

Cremated at nearby Buin, his ashes were returned to Japan aboard the battleship Musashi.

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He was replaced by Admiral Mineichi Koga.

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Several controversies quickly brewed following the mission. Despite the security attached to the mission and the Magic program, operational details soon leaked out. This began with Lanphier announcing upon landing that “I got Yamamoto!” This breach of security led to a second controversy over who actually shot down Yamamoto. Lanphier claimed that after engaging the fighters he banked around and shot a wing off the lead Betty. This led to an initial belief that three bombers had been downed. Though given credit, other members of the 339th were skeptical.

Though Mitchell and the members of the killer group were initially recommended for the Medal of Honor, this was downgraded to the Navy Cross in the wake of the security issues. Debate continued over credit for the kill. When it was ascertained that only two bombers were downed, Lanphier and Barber were each given half kills for Yamamoto’s plane. Though Lanphier later claimed full credit in an unpublished manuscript, the testimony of the lone Japanese survivor of the battle and the work of other scholars supports Barber’s claim.

 

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Operation K- The 2nd ‘attack’ on Pearl Harbor

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On March 4, 1942, two Kawanishi H8K “Emily” flying boats embarked on Operation K, flying the longest distance ever undertaken by a two-plane bombing mission to that point.

 

The planes refueled at an atoll 500 miles from Hawaii, and then launched to drop their bombs on Pearl Harbor. Due to extensive cloud cover and confusion between the two pilots, one plane dropped its bombs on an uninhabited mountainside and the other dropped its bombs in the ocean. There were no American casualties.

In a repeat of events just prior to the December 7 attack, American codebreakers warned that the Japanese were preparing for reconnaissance and disruption raids, refueling at French Frigate Shoals, and again were largely ignored by their superiors.

The planning for Operation K began in the weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, when the Imperial Japanese Navy high command considered how to take advantage of the capabilities of the long-range Kawanishi H8K flying boats.

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Plans to bomb California and Texas were being discussed, when the need for updated information regarding the repairs to US Navy facilities at Pearl Harbor took precedence. An assessment of the repairs to the docks, yards and airfields of Oahu would help the Imperia Japanese Navy  staff to determine American ability to project power for months to come.

Initial plans called for the use of five H8K aircraft. They would fly to French Frigate Shoals, the largest atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, to be refueled by submarines prior to taking off for Oahu.

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The raid was planned to coincide with the full moon to illuminate the Pearl Harbor target area, but actual date of execution would depend on calm weather for refueling at French Frigate Shoals and clear skies over Pearl Harbor.If the first raid was successful, additional raids would be made.

In a repeat of events just prior to the 7 December attack, American codebreakers warned that the Japanese were preparing for reconnaissance and disruption raids, refueling at French Frigate Shoals, and again were largely ignored by their superiors. The codebreakers had reason to correctly interpret the Japanese intent. Edwin T. Layton’s staff included Lieutenant Jasper Holmes, who, writing under the pen name Alec Hudson, had a story entitled Rendezvous published in an August, 1941, Saturday Evening Post.

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His fictitious story about refueling United States planes from submarines at a remote island for an air attack on a target 3000 miles away had been withheld from publication for a year until the author convinced United States Navy censors the techniques described were known to other navies.

When time came for the raid, only two of the big flying boats were available. Pilot Lieutenant Hisao Hashizume was in command of the mission, with Ensign Shosuke Sasao flying the second airplane. They were sent to Wotje Atoll in the Marshall Islands, where each airplane was loaded with four 250-kilogram (550 lb) bombs.

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From there, they flew 3,100 kilometers (1,900 mi) to French Frigate Shoals to refuel, then set off for Oahu, 900 kilometers (560 mi) distant. In addition to their reconnaissance mission, they were to bomb the “Ten-Ten” dock – named for its length, 1,010 feet (310 m) – at the Pearl Harbor naval base to disrupt salvage and repair efforts. However, a comedy of errors ensued on both sides.

The Japanese submarine I-23 was supposed to station itself just south of Oahu as a “lifeguard” and weather spotter for the flying boats, but was lost sometime after 14 February.(picture below of the I-26 which was nearly identical to the I-23)

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Japanese crypt analysts had broken the United States Navy weather code, but a code change on 1 March eliminated that alternative source of weather information over Pearl Harbor. The mission proceeded on the assumption of clear skies over Pearl Harbor from knowledge of conditions at French Frigate Shoals.

American radar stations on Kauai (and later Oahu) picked up and tracked the two planes as they approached the main Hawaiian Islands, prompting a search by Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighters. Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boats were also sent to seek Japanese aircraft carriers, which were assumed to have launched the two invaders.

However, a thick layer of nimbus clouds over Pearl Harbor prevented the defenders from spotting the Japanese planes flying at an altitude of 4,600 meters (15,000 ft).

Those same clouds also confused the IJN pilots. Using the Kaena Point lighthouse for a position fix, Hashizume decided to attack from the north.

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Sasao, however, did not hear Hashizume’s order and instead turned to skirt the southern coast of Oahu.

Hashizume, having lost sight of his wingman, and only able to see small patches of the island, dropped his four bombs on the slopes of Tantalus Peak, an extinct volcano cinder cone just north of Honolulu sometime between 02:00-02:15 HST.

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He was unable to see Pearl Harbor, the only lit facility on Oahu due to blackout conditions intended to hinder air raids.Hashizume’s bombs landed about 300 meters (1,000 ft) from Roosevelt High School, creating craters 2–3 meters (6–10 ft) deep and 6–9 meters (20–30 ft) across.

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Damage was limited to shattered windows.Sasao is assumed by historians and officials to have eventually dropped his bombs into the ocean, either off the coast of Waianae or near the sea approach to Pearl Harbor.The two flying boats then flew southwest toward the Marshall Islands. Sasao returned as planned to Wotje atoll, but Hashizume’s airplane had sustained hull damage while taking off from French Frigate Shoals. Fearing the primitive base at Wotje was insufficient to repair the damage, Hashizume proceeded non-stop all the way to their home base at Jaluit Atoll, also in the Marshall Islands. That made his flight the longest bombing mission in history up to that point.

There were no American casualties. The raid did raise new fears of a potential Japanese invasion of Hawaii.

 

Pearl Harbor

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Today marks the 75th anniversary of Japan’s biggest mistake in WWII, the attack on Pearl Harbor

Allegedly Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto said “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” after the attack and he was proven to be right.

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Inevitably the US would have been involved at some stage but the Pearl Harbor attacks made them more determined.

Rather then going into too much detail of that fateful day I will post pictures below,because after all a picture paints a thousands words.

The Media:

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on War Fatalities in Hawaii

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USS Arizona

Mortally Wounded and Sinking

USS West Virginia and USS Tennessee

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The Attack

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The aftermath

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Doris Miller-Cook,Soldier and Hero.

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Today marks the Birthday of Doris Miller.

Doris “Dorie” Miller (October 12, 1919 – November 24, 1943) was a Ship’s cook Third Class that the United States Navy noted for his bravery during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He was the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross, the third highest honor awarded by the U.S. Navy at the time, after the Medal of Honor and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal. The Navy Cross now precedes the Navy Distinguished Service Medal.Miller’s acts were heavily publicized in the black press, making him the iconic emblem of the war for blacks and was their “Number One Hero” and so energized black support for the war effort against a colored Japanese enemy.[3]Nearly two years after Pearl Harbor, he was killed in action when USS Liscome Bay was sunk by a Japanese submarine during the Battle of Makin.

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After a boyhood of farming and football in Waco, Texas, Doris “Dorie” Miller enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1939. He was 19 and wanted to see the world and earn some money to send home.

Miller joined the Navy as a mess attendant, third class, but was soon promoted to second class, then first class, and finally to ship’s cook, third class

On December 7, 1941, Miller awoke at 0600. After serving breakfast mess, he was collecting laundry when at 0757 Lieutenant Commander Shigeharu Murata from the Japanese carrier Akagi launched the first of nine torpedoes that would hit the West Virginia.

When the “Battle Stations” alarm went off, Miller headed for his battle station, an anti-aircraft battery magazine amidship, only to discover that a torpedo had destroyed it.

He went then to Times Square, a central spot where the fore to aft and port to starboard passageways crossed, and reported himself available for other duty. Lieutenant Commander Doir C. Johnson, the ship’s communications officer, spotted Miller and saw the potential of his powerful build, and ordered him to accompany him to the bridge to assist with moving the ship’s captain, Mervyn Bennion, who had a gaping wound in his abdomen, where he had apparently been hit by shrapnel. Miller and another sailor lifted the skipper and, unable to remove him from the bridge, carried him from his exposed position on the damaged bridge to a sheltered spot behind the conning tower. The captain refused to leave his post, questioned his officers about the condition of the ship, and gave orders.

Lieutenant Frederic H. White ordered Miller to help him and Ensign Victor Delano load the unmanned #1 and #2 Browning .50 caliber anti-aircraft machine guns aft of the conning tower. Miller was not familiar with the machine gun, but White and Delano told him what to do. Miller had served both men as a room steward and knew them well. Delano expected Miller to feed ammunition to one gun, but his attention was diverted, and when he looked again, Miller was firing one of the guns. White had loaded ammunition into both guns and assigned Miller the starboard gun.

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Miller fired the gun until he ran out of ammunition, when he was ordered by Lieutenant Claude V. Ricketts, along with Lieutenant White and Chief Signalman A.A. Siewart, to help carry the captain up to the navigation bridge out of the thick oily smoke generated by the many fires on and around the ship.

Bennion was only partially conscious at this point, and died soon afterward. Japanese aircraft eventually dropped two armor-piercing bombs through the deck of the battleship and launched five 18 in (460 mm) aircraft torpedoes into her port side. When the attack finally lessened, Miller helped move injured sailors through oil and water to the quarterdeck, thereby unquestionably saving the lives of a number of people who might otherwise have been lost

The ship was heavily damaged by bombs, torpedoes and resulting explosions and fires, but the crew prevented her from capsizing by counter-flooding a number of compartments. Instead, the West Virginia sank to the harbor bottom as her surviving crew, including Miller, abandoned ship.

“It wasn’t hard,” said Miller shortly after the battle. “I just pulled the trigger and she worked fine. I had watched the others with these guns. I guess I fired her for about 15 minutes. I think I got one of those Jap planes. They were diving pretty close to us.”

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Just days after the attack, Miller was transferred to the U.S.S. Indianapolis, on the 15th of December.

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In May 1942 he became the first African American to receive the Navy Cross, presented for courage under fire.

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Miller continued to serve in the Pacific and was reassigned in 1943 to a new escort carrier, the U.S.S.Liscome Bay. Early on November 24, 1943, off Butaritari island, in the South Pacific, a Japanese submarine’s torpedo ripped into the Liscome. The torpedo detonated a bomb magazine, sinking the ship within minutes and eventually killing 646 of its 918 sailors, including Dorie Miller.

Miller’s sacrifices afforded him a reputation far above his rank. In honor of those sacrifices, the U.S. Navy in 1973 commissioned a new frigate–the U.S.S.Miller.

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Doris Miller was played by Cuba Gooding, Jr., in the 2001 ,Michael Bay movie,Pearl Harbor.