To call the Pearl Harbor attack, a “mistake on the part of the Japanese,” seems like a case of serious misinformation, on the part of the one who made such a comment, Admiral Chester A Nimitz. Nevertheless, that is what he said on Christmas Day, 1941, after he toured the destruction of his new duty station shortly after his Christmas Eve arrival. Anyone who would have heard Nemitz comments probably thought the new Commander of the Pacific Fleet might be just a little bit “off his rocker!!” Where everyone else saw all the ships sunken and knew of the 3,800 men who lost their lives that day, and in their minds, there was nothing good about all this, so what was the admiral thinking.

Sunday, December 7th, 1941, found Admiral Chester Nimitz attending a concert in Washington, DC. He received a page and was told that he had a phone call. On the other end was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who told Admiral Nimitz that his new assignment was to be the Commander of the Pacific Fleet. Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet, arriving to see such a spirit of despair, dejection, and defeat. It seemed that everyone thought the Japanese had already won the war. As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, “Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?” The admiral’s reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice. Admiral Nimitz said, “The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?” Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked, “What do mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?”

What was meant, is really the difference between the thinking of an enlisted man, and the thinking of a great strategist, such as Admiral Nemitz was. I’m actually quite sure most of us would have fallen more in line with the enlisted helmsman…basically seeing the trees and missing the forest. So, Admiral Nemitz had to enlighten those around him. The first mistake made by the Japanese, is actually one I had heard before, and likely the “best” mistake for the people concerned. The attack on Pearl Harbor took place on a Sunday morning…when many of the men who might have been on the ships, were on leave. In fact, nine out of ten of the men stationed on the ships were on leave. That cut the loss of life down by 90%. As Admiral Nemitz told the people, “If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk–we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.” Now the Japanese had angered the “Sleeping Giant” that was the United States and left the majority of the fighting force to exact their revenge.

Of course, that was only their first mistake. Their second mistake was that when the Japanese saw all those battleships lined up in a row, they got so carried away sinking the battleships, they either didn’t notice, or forgot about the dry docks opposite those ships. Leaving the dry docks, meant that instead of towing every one of those ships to the America to be repaired, they could simply be raised from the shallow water they were in, and one tug could pull them over to the dry docks. Any salvageable ships could be repaired and back out at sea by the time they could have towed them to the America. Add that fact to the already established fact that Admiral Nemitz already had crews ashore anxious to man those ships. They were ready to fight.

The final mistake made by the Japanese was that they were either unaware of or forgot about the above-ground fuel storage tanks located just five miles away over the next hill. In fact, every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war was sitting out there in those tanks, and even if the ships were ready to go and fully manned, the lack of fuel would have prevented an attack on the Japanese fleet.

While everyone around him was thinking of the devastation and the defeat of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Admiral Nemitz saw the three biggest mistakes of the Japanese government, or as he preferred to call it, that “God was taking care of America.” I tend to agree with Admiral Nemitz in that I, too, think it was God taking care of us. My thought is that the Japanese knew about the dry docks and the fuel storage, but in their “excitement” at pulling off the surprise attack, they forgot all about them. Of course, there is that first mistake of planning an attack of God’s Day. Seriously, they chose to take on the whole Pacific Fleet…and God too!! Wow!! It’s hard to be more “stupid” than that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Check these out!