Tuesday, October 29, 2013

From Pearl Harbor To Calvary

  Commander Mitsuo Fuchida led the Japanese air attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He was born on December 3, 1902. In 1924 he graduated from the Japanese Imperial Naval Academy and began a long career as a pilot in the Japanese Navy. On December 7, he radioed the signal for two waves of Japanese aircraft from six different carriers to open the attack. When he realized he had achieved complete surprise he radioed "Tora, Tora, Tora" to the flagship Akagi. He remained over Pearl Harbor until both waves were finished with the attack. Upon return to his carrier he discovered 21 flak holes in his aircraft and the main control wires were barely hanging together. In June 1942 he was wounded and barely escaped alive from the carrier Akagi when it was sunk in the Battle of Midway. The day before the atomic bomb was dropped Fuchida was in Hiroshima attending a week long military conference for Japanese officers. He received a phone call to return to Naval Headquarters in Tokyo which saved him from certain death. The day after the attack he was sent back into Hiroshima with a group to assess the damage. Everyone in his group contracted radiation sickness and died. All with the exception of Fuchida who never even showed symptoms of the disease. 

  After the war he was called to testify in a war crimes trial. This angered him because he felt Americans treated their Japanese prisoners with the same brutality as they had shown Americans. When he talked to returning Japanese prisoners of war however they said that they were not mistreated or abused by their American captors. He talked to a friend who had been captured at Midway and he told him about a Christian missionary couple who treated him with kindness. Fuchida was taught the code of Bushido where revenge was not only expected but a responsibility. He was obsessed with the idea of forgiveness and could not understand how someone could forgive their enemies. In 1948 he was handed a pamphlet that told the story of an American Airman named Jacob DeShazer whose B-25 bomber crash landed during the Doolittle Raid. He was captured by the Japanese and was starved, beaten, and tortured for three long years. While he was a prisoner of the Japanese DeShazer became a Christian. This story inspired Fuchida and he became a Christian after reading the Bible in 1949. In 1950, the year I was born, Fuchida and DeShazer met for the first time. Fuchida eventually applied for a green card and settled in the United States. He toured the United States and Europe as a Christian missionary. He wrote several books including his autobiography "From Pearl Harbor to Calvary". Fuchida died in Japan in 1976 from complications brought on by diabetes.

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