Sunday, December 7, 2008

Climb Mount Niitaka


On November 26, 1941, units of the Imperial Japanese, or Combined Fleet set sail. Their mission was secret and no radio comunication was sent by them during their mission. On December 2, 1941, the phrase "Climb Mount Niitaka" was sent to these elements of the Combined Fleet instructing them to attack Pearl Harbor on December 8, 1941(Tokyo Time, also referred to as Time Item, as it relates to Time Zulu, which is Greenwich Meantime ).

As we all know, December 7, 1941 is the date which will live in Infamy. At about 7:55am planes from the IJN carriers Kaga, Akagi, Hiryu, Soryu, Shokaku, and Zuikaku began their attacks on targets all over the island of Oahu. (here is a good page on the Combined Fleet units and their movements)

Their targets were the ships on Battleship Row. I will not go into too much detail since it has been covered elsewhere. I think it is necessary to note the significnce of this date, however.

All the battleships in the harbor were damaged. All but two returned to service. Of those two, only one was never raised. The Battleship Arizona, famous, or infamous, for her energetic reaction to an armour piercing bomb landing in her magazine, was never raised becuse the energetic reaction ruptured her hull and broke her back. She remains on the harbor floor.

I had the opportunity to touch her, well, a part of her.
You see, part of her rests here in the continental US. In April, when we went to Phoenix, Arizona for vacation, we happened onto one of her anchors and her mast. It was the state memorial to the ship with its name.

That day, 2400 men died. The real figure depends upon the source. That day, the US was thrown into WWII. Within days Hitler had made one of his biggest mistakes, and the world would never be the same. Within six months Japan would make her last movement forward in the Pacific and spend the rest of the war retreating before the growing war machine of the United States. Within four years, Japan would lie in ruins and two of her cities would be victims of the only atomic bombs used in anger.

So, today, I hope you will take a moment and remember. When they died, they did not necessarily know who was attacking. Some of them did not even have time to know they were being attacked. Still, they were service men, and they did their job. When they fell, others, thousands, stood in their place. I am not always proud of our nation's actions, but I am proud of our nations' fighting men(and women) and their indomitable spirit.

American fighting men and women, here's to you! Wherever you serve. Whatever your job. And, here's to your brothers who fell, during the attack on Pearl Harbor and anywhere else.

Remember Pearl Harbor!

No comments: