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Guest BlairWitch

Is there any original video material of the Pearl Harbor attacks? All the respect to those people who were at Pearl Harbor then and to all the victims of the war.

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Leavenworth — With today being the 70th anniversary of the “day that will live in infamy,” I would be drummed out of every historical organization I belong to if this column was about anything other than Pearl Harbor. And so it shall be.

I met two Leavenworth citizens who were servicemen at Pearl Harbor but both have since joined the “Last Muster in the Sky” for departed military personnel. If there is one out there, I’d love to know it.

This column will not be about the sneak attack on a Sunday morning and the resultant brief battle, ships sinking, and casualties. Rather, it is about an email that was about a booklet available at the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor titled “Reflections on Pearl Harbor” by Adm. Chester Nimitz.

Nimitz was attending a concert in Washington when Pearl Harbor occurred. He was paged to the phone and the voice on the other end was President Franklin Roosevelt, who informed Nimitz he was now commander of the Pacific Fleet.

He flew to Hawaii and on Christmas Day 1941 was given a boat tour of the destruction and cluttered waters everywhere one looked.

As the boat returned to dock the young helmsman asked “Well, admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?” The answer shocked everyone who heard the admiral’s words.

“The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or else God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?

The young helmsman asked what the admiral meant by three mistakes. He answered “First, they attacked on Sunday morning when nine of 10 sailors were ashore on leave. If the ships had been lured to sea and attacked, we’d have lost 38,000 men rather than 3,800.

“Second, when the Japanese saw all those battleships in a row, they got carried away sinking them, and never once bombed the dry docks across the water. If they’d been bombed, all damaged ships would have had to be towed to California to be repaired. Now when they are raised a tug can pull them to the dry docks and they’ll be repaired by the time we would have towed them to America.

“Third, every drop of fuel in the Pacific Theater is in ground storage tanks five miles away. If they’d been attacked, our entire fuel supply would have been destroyed and would have taken months to replace from America.

“That’s why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make, or else God was taking care of America.”

Four years later Adm. Nimitz represented the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Missouri in accepting the surrender of Japan’s military warlords. It had taken a while, but the “day that will live in infamy” as President Roosevelt called it had been redeemed.

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