Saturday, December 24, 2011


Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

Divine Providence intercedes in varied fashions and under opportune circumstances. In the wake of the attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 Divine Providence revealed itself on Christmas day, December 25, 1941.

On Christmas Eve of 1941 Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, newly appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt as Commander of the Pacific Fleet, arrived at Pearl Harbor. The next day the Admiral reviewed the carnage and made some very prescient revelations that inspired his leadership in defeating the Japanese. The following is an excerpt from the book Reflections On Pearl Harbor by William H. Ewing describing Admiral Nimitz’s epiphany.

"When Nimitz landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941, there was such a spirit of despair, dejection and defeat--you would have thought the Japanese had already won the war. On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese.

Afterwards, someone asked him, ‘Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?’ Admiral Nimitz's reply shocked everyone: ‘The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America.

Nimitz explained:
Mistake number one: The Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk, we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.

Mistake number two: When the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America. And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.

Mistake number three: Every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is on top of the ground in storage tanks five miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply.

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

Admiral Nimitz’s selection to lead America’s Pacific naval forces and his optimistic approach to overtaking the Japanese in such a time of despondency represents how Divine Providence will intervene to counter immorality. Or, to quote Admiral Nimitz, God was taking care of America.

Merry Christmas and God bless for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2012.

1 comment:

Anon said...

The information in “Admiral Chester Nimitz"s Christmas Day Epiphany” wasn't written by the Admiral. It's full of holes, and shouldn’t be taken as history.

“It was early afternoon Washington, D.C., time and Rear Admiral Chester Nimitz was at home enjoying a radio broadcast of the New York Philharmonic”. (The Admirals, Walter R. Borneman)

Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox had left D.C. for Pearl shortly after Roosevelt’s request for a declaration of war to Congress. When Knox returned the following week, he reported to The President that new leadership was needed in the Pacific Fleet. “Roosevelt and Knox left the question of Kimmel’s replacement until a second conversation the following morning …”. On December 16, 1941, the President told Knox: “Tell Nimitz to get the hell out to Pearl and stay there til the war is won”. Later on that day, Knox summoned Nimitz and told him of his new assignment. (Borneman); (Commander In Chief, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, His Lieutenants, and Their War, Eric Larrabee)

Nimitz left San Diego via flying boat on Christmas Eve. He flew into Pearl at 7:00 AM on Christmas Day. (Bornean)

The flying boat landed near the submarine base east of Battleship Row. Still in a civilian suit, Nimitz boarded a whaleboat for the short trip to the dock. “As horrific as the scene was, Nimitz had a pressing question on his mind. ‘What news of the relief of Wake?’, he asked the three officers who met him”. (Borneman)

Neither in Bornean, nor Larrabee, nor in Gordon Prange’s, At Dawn We Slept is there a reference to a helmsman asking Nimitz “… what do you think after seeing all this destruction”, nor of Nimitz’s response as stated. From the experience of 20 years of active U.S. Navy service, I’m fairly certain that a young seaman would not be so bold as to address a soon to be 4-star admiral in that way.

From that same Naval experience and tradition, I can also say that, depending on the number of crew members, ship’s company is divided into 3 or 4 watch sections. In port, each ship is manned by at least ¼ to ⅓ of it’s crew, not 1/10th as stated in the apocryphal story.

There appears to be no documentation regarding “Nimitz’s Three Japanese Mistakes”; such profound words would have surely found their way into someone’s diary, letter, or oral history. The historical record indicates that Nimitz had Christmas dinner with Admirals Kimmel and Pye, and Mrs. Pye; there is no record of Japan’s three mistakes during the dinner conversation. Nor is there a mention of those three mistakes in the letter the Admiral wrote to his wife Catherine that evening.

While the gist of the story is true, especially Japan’s attack forces leaving the fuel dump in tact, this story has no historical authenticity.