Some soldiers, no matter what side they are on or what branch of service they are in, are so good at what they do, that they become a must kill to the enemy. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was just such a soldier. Yamamoto held several important posts in the Imperial Japanese Navy, and undertook many of its changes and reorganizations, especially its development of naval aviation. He was the commander-in-chief during the early years of the Pacific War and so was responsible for major battles such as Pearl Harbor and Midway. That meant that the Unites States had a score to settle with the admiral. Nevertheless, this would be no easy task. The Japanese codes were difficult to break, and so locating the admiral at a time when they could be prepared to shoot him down was not going to be easy.
Finally, on April 18, 1943, the code breakers successfully broke the code, leaving the admiral vulnerable to attack, and Operation Vengence was born. The sole purpose of this mission was to kill Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. The mission took place during the Solomon Islands campaign in the Pacific Theater of World War II. The code breakers found out that the admiral was set to be onboard a transport plane that would be flying over Bougainville Island. With everything finally in place, his transport bomber aircraft was shot down by United States Army Air Forces fighter aircraft operating from Kukum Field on Guadalcanal. It was a day to celebrate. The United States had been nursing a black eye where Pearl Harbor was concerned, and they had been looking to settle the score. Operation Vengence was the victory they had been waiting for.
The admiral’s death was a major blow to Japanese military morale during World War II, and was a major boost to the Allied Forces. The operation was intended as revenge for the Pearl Harbor attack which initiated the formal state of war between Imperial Japan and the United States.
After the war, there was debate over which of the US fighter pilots involved in the raid deserved the official credit for downing Yamamoto due to conflicting first-hand reports from the participants, and has never been entirely resolved. I suppose that for the pilots it was a big deal, but for the US citizens it wasn’t the pilot that mattered, but rather that the mission had been successful. Americans hate to lose, and we will go after the villan who dared to attack us.