Thu. Apr 18th, 2024

By Donna Westfall – December 7, 2016 – By now, our nation should be prepared for surprise attacks both internal and external; Twin Towers, Boston Marathon and Sandy Hook.  But, in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s American’s never imagined something like the Japanese attacking our naval base at Pearl Harbor.

Japan was in an expansionist era starting in the 1920’s.  By 1931, they invaded Manchuria. Over the next 10 years, they slowly expanded into China.  In 1940 Japan invaded French Indochina in an effort to embargo all imports into China, including war supplies purchased from the U.S.  In retaliation, the US placed an oil embargo against Japan.

Japanese Admiral, Isoroku Yamamoto, started planning on attacking the US in early 1941.  After many attempts, he finally got approval after threatening to resign.  Emperor Hirohito approved the attack in early December, 1941. Six Japanese aircraft carriers with 350 planes decimated Pearl Harbor and the rest is history.

Sixteen million American’s served in the military during the Second World War.  400,000 died and 79,000 remained unaccounted for. During the early hours of December 7, 1941, 2,403 heroes gave their lives at Pearl Harbor.  Many of the bodies could not be identified until recently due to DNA testing.

Navy Fire Controlman First Class Paul Nash was originally from Carlisle, Indiana. Like many military men, he was serving aboard the USS Oklahoma on December 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan. The ship was moored off Ford Island when torpedo hits caused it to take on water. Before long, the ship capsized and 429 men died.  Thanks to a new DNA identification program,  Nash’s remains were matched through laboratory analysis. His niece’s mitochondrial DNA was matched to his, and dental records matched up as well. His remains have been identified, and he was buried under his own name in Sullivan, Indiana on July 9, 2016.

Back to the 1940’s – President Roosevelt issued the order to “Get Yamamoto.” Operation Vengeance went into effect and Admiral Yamamoto was killed over the Solomon Islands when the US decrypted the Japanese naval code and learned of his plans to do an aerial reconnaissance to check out the positions of the American fleet.  His plane was shot down on April 18, 1943 by US Army Air Forces fighter aircraft and his body recovered by a Japanese search and rescue team the next day.


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