December 7, 2009
Pearl Harbor Day 2009, Links
We were at war.
We are at war.
Tom McMahon did the thinking. I’ll do the linking.
See more of Tom’s outstanding Pearl Harbor Day — WW2 blogging at the jump.
Thank you (foot)notes:
Red State Rant has more on 7 December 1941.
And Follow Tom McMahon on Twitter www.Twitter.com/TomMcMahonNet He’s the best.
Captain Franklin Van Valkenburgh, USN, (1888-1941), The Last Commanding Officer of the USS Arizona: Does Anybody In Milwaukee Put Flowers on His Grave on Pearl Harbor Day?
To be technical about it, that’s not his tombstone, it’s a cenotaph (A cenotaph is a tomb or a monument erected in honor of a person or group of persons whose remains are elsewhere) as the only thing found of Capt. Van Valkenburgh after the Arizona exploded was his Naval Academy class ring.
Van Valkenburgh was the son and grandson of prominent Milwaukee lawyers and a graduate of Cass Street School and East Side – now Riverside – High School in Milwaukee.
The Sad Life of Pearl Harbor Spy Takeo Yoshikawa
Takeo Yoshikawa was World War Two’s most famous Super Spy – so successful it ruined his life forever. For years thousands of Americans who didn’t know his name cursed him. Many Japanese hated him for getting their nation involved in a lost war. Some even blamed him for the atomic bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yoshikawa, one of the most successful spies in recorded history, has received no awards,, no honors, not even a pension from the Japanese government he served so well. When I met him he had no job and lived as a down-and-out on the island of Shikoku south of Tokyo. The famed spy died several years ago in a nursing home in Tokyo, alone and without honors except for his old wife Etsuko who had supported him for years by selling insurance.
Pearl Harbor POW Number 1 Kazuo Sakamaki
After a lifetime of avoiding the spotlight, Kazuo Sakamaki passed away on Nov. 29, 1999, at 81. As an ensign in the Japanese imperial navy, Sakamaki and crewman Kyoshi Inagaki were aboard a tiny “midget” submarine that was pummeled by American depth charges and cannon shells at the entrance to Pearl Harbor on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. Sakamaki was captured by Hawaiian soldier David Akui. All the rest of the midget submariners perished in the attack, and Sakamaki was deeply humiliated to be taken alive as Prisoner of War No. 1.
Sakamaki moved steadily around POW camps on the mainland United States, an experience that offered him lots of solitary time to reflect on the nature of war. When the war ended, he returned to Japan deeply committed to pacifism. There, Sakamaki was not warmly received. He wrote an account of his experience, titled “The First Prisoner” in Japan and “I Attacked Pearl Harbor” in the United States, and thereafter refused to speak about the war.
He found work with the Toyota Motor Corp. and became president of the Brazilian subsidiary in 1969. In 1983, he returned to Japan where he worked for Toyota before retiring in 1987.
A Real Marketing Challenge: Trying To Sell Mrs. Japp’s Potato Chips After The Attack On Pearl Harbor
Jays started simply in 1927 when Leonard Japp, Sr. bought an old truck for $50 and began selling pretzels. The business grew rapidly until the stock market crash of 1929, but Japp bounced back and began selling chips under the brand name “Mrs. Japp’s Potato Chips”. In 1941 with the attack on Pearl Harbor, anti-Japanese sentiment led to the company being renamed “Jay’s Potato Chips.” From there the company grew to produce popcorn, pretzels and tortilla chips. Japp credits his wife Eugenia with much of their success as she created recipes using potato chips which were then printed on the bags.
The company remained family-owned until 1986, when it was acquired by Borden, Inc. In 1994, Jays Foods was re-acquired by the Japp Family who operated it for the next ten years in an attempt to re-establish their quality snack food brand throughout the Midwest. Unfortunately, economics and technological advancements created an additional hurdle for the family and led to the company’s first bankruptcy filing in 2004. The company was then sold to a Chicago private-equity firm which renamed the company Ubiquity Brands and eventually late last year, it ended up in bankruptcy once again.
Cornelia Fort, The Real-Life Flight Instructor Depicted in Tora! Tora! Tora!
On December 7th, 1941 Cornelia Fort, a young civilian flight instructor from Tennessee, and her regular Sunday-morning student took off from John Rodgers Airport in Honolulu. Fort’s apprentice was advanced enough to fly regular take-offs and landings and this was to have been his last lesson before going solo. With the novice at the controls, Fort noticed a military aircraft approaching from the sea. At first that didn’t strike her as unusual; Army planes were a common sight in the skies above Hawaii. But at the last moment, she realized this aircraft was different and that it had set itself on a collision course with her plane. She wrenched the controls from her student’s grasp and managed to pull the plane up just in time to avoid a mid-air crash. As she looked around she saw the red sun symbol on the wings of the disappearing plane and in the distance, probably not more than a quarter mile away, billowing smoke was rising over Pearl Harbor. The disbelieving Fort had just unwittingly witnessed the U.S. entry into World War II. A little more than a year after this near miss, Fort would be flying military aircraft for the U.S. and a mid-air collision would tragically make her the first American woman to die on active military duty. …
Fort flew for her country for just a few brief months. On March 21, 1943, she was one of a number of pilots, both male and female, who had been assigned to ferry BT-13s to Love Field in Dallas Texas. During the course of that mission, one of the men’s landing gear clipped Fort’s airplane, sending it plummeting to earth. Fort didn’t have time to parachute to safety. Her commanding officer, sent a compassionate letter back to the young pilot’s mother: “My feeling about the loss of Cornelia,” wrote Nancy Love, “is hard to put into words — I can only say that I miss her terribly, and loved her…If there can be any comforting thought, it is that she died as she wanted to — in an Army airplane, and in the service of her country.”
Despite the words of sympathy, Fort and the other 37 female pilots who died flying military planes during the war, received no military recognition. The army didn’t even pay for their burial expenses because the women were considered civilians. Fort’s achievements as a military pilot are commemorated by an airpark named after her that was built in 1945 near her family farm. Her own words on an historical marker at the site simply and modestly sum up her wartime contribution: “I am grateful” she wrote, “that my one talent, flying, was useful to my country.”
The USS Phoenix: Survived Pearl Harbor, Sunk In The Falklands
Launched in 1938, the Phoenix had received nine battle stars, one for each large-scale enemy confrontation. The 13,645-ton vessel spent most of World War II as a support cruiser for Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s island-hopping from Australia to the Philippines. It was renamed the General Belgrana after being sold to Argentina In 1951, and was was torpedoed and sunk off the Falkland Islands by the British in 1982.
The Pearl Harbor Telegram
December 7, 1941: The Day Honoring Wisconsin-Born New York Giants Star Tuffy Leemans at the Polo Grounds
At the last regular season game in 1941 the Giants wanted to honor Leemans for his contributions to the team. On December 7 they celebrated “Tuffy Leemans Day,” presenting him with a silver tray, a watch, and $1,500 in defense bonds. During the course of the game the stadium announcer had paged Col. William Donovan to answer a call from Washington and had told all servicemen to return to their units, but it was only when the game let out that players and spectators learned of the attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor earlier that day.
The Sacred, Rusting Relics of Pearl Harbor: The Crumbling Superstructure of the USS Arizona Stored on Waipio Peninsula
Not all of the wreckage is at the memorial on Ford Island. “After the bombing, the USS Arizona had much of the superstructure and metal above the water line cut away and sent to the mainland, either for use on other ships or designated for scrap,” explains Agnes Tauyan, deputy director in the public affairs office of the commander, Navy Region Hawaii. Still later, additional pieces of wreckage, several tons of the Arizona, were removed from the ship during the construction of the memorial and transported to a spot across the channel from Ford Island, where they have been ever since, holding a silent and lonely vigil against time and the elements.
Daniel Martinez, National Park Service historian who has worked at the Arizona Memorial since 1985 and is an expert on the bombing of Pearl Harbor, says, “Someone, and we don’t know who, since documentation does not exist, realized the importance of this wreckage of the martyred ship and put it in a place where it would be preserved.” The specific location of what Ms. Tauyan calls the “sacred relics” is a closely guarded secret. The Navy will acknowledge for the record only that sections of the Arizona are on Waipio Peninsula, strictly off limits to the public and safely guarded in a storage area on a military reservation, but it granted access for this article to further tell the story of the famed battleship and its continuing contribution today.
To reach the site, a visitor must proceed through locked gates, down roads and deep into an area that is protected by wasps and the thickets and thorns of Kiawe trees. There, in a clearing, is a debris field that is not large but unmistakably contains a unique look into history.
Time and the elements have been unkind, and some of the rusting pieces of the ship are razor-like and dangerous. Pieces carpet the ground and crunch with each step. A close examination of the site reveals large and small sections of metal, some of it scarred by black scorch marks created by the burning oil and the intensity of the fire. Much of the debris is hard to identify as to origin, but here and there something–such as one of the armored legs of the main mast, with a ladder still bolted inside–can be recognized.
More stories here: http://www.tommcmahon.net/worldwar2/