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Old 12-07-2004, 06:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
sob
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That today doesn't pass unnoticed

I want to make sure that this day, Dec. 7, does not pass unremarked.

A lot of good men and women died so that we could enjoy the freedoms this country has to offer. Including the brother of my next door neighbor.

And since so much fault is found with our military and our leaders today, I thought I'd post the following, since the enemy we face today is even less merciful, and has more potent weapons..

Japan in 1941

Japan scuttled '41 raid on S.D. Bay

Submarines were in place to deliver 'unhappy Christmas' message to U.S.

By Roger M. Showley
STAFF WRITER

December 7, 2004

Soldiers guarded a San Diego power facility after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Years later it was learned that the Japanese planned a Christmas Eve raid on West Coast ports.

The date was Dec. 7, 1941.

Bart Roggensack was aboard the Medusa, a Navy repair ship, in Pearl Harbor and his wife Elna was living with her parents and infant son in East San Diego.

As Bart witnessed the surprise Japanese attack that early Sunday morning, Elna heard the news on the radio.

Little did they or the rest of America know, then or now, that the Japanese intended to strike a blow close to home two weeks later, in a Christmas raid that targeted San Diego and other West Coast ports.

It was an attack that came within hours of happening, and one which could have set back the U.S. response beyond the havoc caused at Pearl Harbor.

According to accounts published after the war, the Japanese submarine command was planning a Christmas Eve raid on San Diego and other significant ports. Eight subs were under orders to continue east from Pearl Harbor. They halted at locations 20 miles or so off the West Coast.

The assignment to shell San Diego on Dec. 24 was given to the Japanese Imperial Navy's submarine I-10.

Sub fleet Adm. Mitsumi Shimizu, whose flagship was the I-10, wanted to accompany the shelling with a radio greeting in English to wish President Franklin D. Roosevelt an "unhappy Christmas" but no one was available onboard to make a proper translation. Shimizu requested help for the message from Tokyo.

When admirals in Tokyo got wind of the plan, they spiked it and the subs headed for home waters.

There have been two explanations as to why the attack was called off.

First, after weeks at sea the subs were running low on fuel and facing increasing anti-submarine activity. Second, some officials thought it would be inappropriate to "mock" the Christian holy day."

Still, war planners in Japan before the outbreak of hostilities against the United States had developed various scenarios for raids, if not an invasion, targeting the West Coast.

A 1940 book, "How Japan Plans to Win," translated into English and published in the United States in 1942, did not receive much attention at the time.

But its author, Kinoaki Matsuo, spoke of a strategy that would include uprisings against the United States in Mexico, Japanese seizure or destruction of the Panama Canal, the defeat of the U.S. fleet and occupation of the Hawaiian Islands.

"If, in the meantime, the Japanese fleet haunts the Pacific Coast and bombards or threatens the United States merchant marine, the United States will be dealt a heavy blow," Matsuo wrote.

In his book, Matsuo also provided a geography lesson on the West Coast, including this passage about San Diego: "There is also the famous city of San Diego, the southernmost naval harbor of California, 126 miles from Los Angeles; this harbor as a naval base has excellent accommodations."

Although the Japanese navy received a blow in the Battle of Midway in June 1942 from which it never recovered, plans continued throughout the war to harass the U.S. mainland.

Late in 1944, the Japanese launched about 9,000 balloon bombs. Some of the weapons floated across the Pacific and landed in the Northwest, setting off a few minor forest fires. On May 5, 1945, six picnickers were killed in Oregon when a balloon bomb they dragged from the woods exploded.

In the summer of 1945, a more bizarre plot was developed by the Japanese navy. Called "Cherry Blossoms at Night," the plan was for kamikaze planes to drop plague-infected fleas on San Diego on Sept. 22.

This operation only came to light in a 1995 newspaper article based on interviews with those familiar with Japan's germ warfare effort.

The end of the war in August 1945, after two atomic bombs had leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki, put an end to the plan.

The story of the aborted West Coast raid, and other attempts to bring the Pacific war to the U.S. mainland, provide the fodder for countless what-if debates among military strategists and history buffs.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Bart Roggensack was stationed at Pearl Harbor. His wife, Elna, was home in East San Diego and heard of the Japanese attack while listening to the radio.

Unable to reach her husband, she took her mind off the news by accompanying her brother and his wife on a short drive to the then-barren flats of Kearny Mesa.

"We just walked around out there and talked and prayed," she said. "Then we went back home and all we could do was just wait."

Three days later, a three-word, censored Western Union cablegram arrived from Bart. It said, "I am safe." He didn't see his wife and son for 22 months.

Bart , now 89, recalled the Pearl Harbor attack, which began minutes before 8 a.m. Hawaii time.

"I heard gunfire when I was down on the second deck," he recalled. "I saw the planes and was looking right at two torpedo planes with a big red ball on the fuselage and knew we were in trouble."

He escaped injury but he saw the destruction all around and learned later that some of his best friends had been killed.

Word of the attack flashed from Hawaii to the Navy's radio towers at Chollas Heights in San Diego and then to the nation's capital. Within three hours, the news had become public.

Soldiers and sailors returned to their bases. Blackouts began the next night.

As the outgoing president of the 155-member Pearl Harbor Survivors Association local chapter, the largest in the United States, Bart Roggensack will lead a service at the Veterans Memorial Center in Balboa Park at 9 a.m. today and relinquish his post tomorrow.

Since he'll turn 90 in March, he said it's time to slow down.

But he'll continue one ritual.

On the third Sunday every month, he joins other Pearl Harbor survivors to read the names of service personnel who have died in Iraq.

"When you hear those names, 18, 19 years old, it really gets to you," he said. "You just shed a tear, a tear rolls down your cheek. You think of those kids."

Just as he thinks of the kids he knew whose lives were cut short 63 years ago in a war that touched everyone.

=========================================================
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Old 12-07-2004, 10:33 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Thank you for the reminder.

And thank you to all the souls that died defending our country in that awful war.
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Old 12-09-2004, 11:13 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I'm a bit late, but thanks for the reminder. My grandfather was there during the attack and survived, so I tend to remember the day even though he died before I was born.
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Old 12-10-2004, 09:00 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Too bad this wasn't important enough enough for anyone else to actively notice.

Not surprising, however.
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Old 12-10-2004, 09:27 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I would consider active noticing to be the conversations I had with my uncle who was there, and my explaining the event/date to my daughter. Forgot the critical 3 lines on the internet.

Too bad we can't have a serious topic without a holier than thou response. Not surprising, however.
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Old 12-10-2004, 04:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
sob
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boatin
I would consider active noticing to be the conversations I had with my uncle who was there, and my explaining the event/date to my daughter. Forgot the critical 3 lines on the internet.

Too bad we can't have a serious topic without a holier than thou response. Not surprising, however.
It's admirable that you discussed the matter with your uncle and daughter. I wish a lot more of that went on. I don't think I would have classified Lebell's remark as "holier than thou," however.

For what it's worth, I happen to live in an area that has quite a few Pearl Harbor survivors and WWII vets. When I see them, I almost always ask them for a WWII "sea story." Some are initially reluctant, but they usually wind up telling me something fascinating. With absolutely no braggadocio.

Like the skipper of a ship that was hit by a kamikaze. Or the pilot who got shot down (twice), got his heel shot off while parachuting down, and was forced by the Germans to march or die. He was liberated from Moosburg when Patton drove a tank through its gates. Although it's not directly related, I also attended a gathering of over thirty men who were POWs in Vietnam.

If you admire mental and physical toughness, as I do, you'd like to meet all of these people.

At the time I'm writing this, six of the eight most recent thread titles are critical of the US. I thought it appropriate to remind everyone of Dec. 7th's significance, but also to compare conditions then and now.

To conclude on a related note, I've also talked with a few people on whose arms I've spotted German concentration camp tattoos. One of them talks to schoolkids about the experience, but most others don't like to dwell on it much.

I look forward to the time when I can speak with an Iraqi who was in disfavor during Saddam's reign.
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Old 12-11-2004, 11:02 AM   #7 (permalink)
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If you really want to hear some amazing stories, ask a WWII veteran, or any other war veteran, for an example of bravery that he has seen. When I asked, I got this story:

The veteran I spoke to was on a ship during WWII. There was a hole in a fuel tank from enemy fire. Unless the hole was sealed, which would require welding a steel plate over it, the ship could not make it back to port. Everyone on the ship knew it had to be done, but none was willing to weld an open hole in a fuel tank due to fear of blowing up the ship. after several minutes of silence, a young sailor who had enlisted only a few weeks before the incident took initiative, stepped up, placed a wet rag over the hole, a steel plate over the rag, and welded it into place wihtout blinking an eye. An 18-year-old boy, barely out of high school, was the only one on the ship willing to step up and weld shut an open hole in a half-full fuel tank and save the lives of everyone on the stranded ship.
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Old 12-12-2004, 09:53 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Wow, that was a really interesting post. Thanks for the article!
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Old 12-12-2004, 11:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
sob
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSelfDestruct
If you really want to hear some amazing stories, ask a WWII veteran, or any other war veteran, for an example of bravery that he has seen. When I asked, I got this story:

The veteran I spoke to was on a ship during WWII. There was a hole in a fuel tank from enemy fire. Unless the hole was sealed, which would require welding a steel plate over it, the ship could not make it back to port. Everyone on the ship knew it had to be done, but none was willing to weld an open hole in a fuel tank due to fear of blowing up the ship. after several minutes of silence, a young sailor who had enlisted only a few weeks before the incident took initiative, stepped up, placed a wet rag over the hole, a steel plate over the rag, and welded it into place wihtout blinking an eye. An 18-year-old boy, barely out of high school, was the only one on the ship willing to step up and weld shut an open hole in a half-full fuel tank and save the lives of everyone on the stranded ship.
This one has the ring of truth to it. I have yet to see/hear a WWII veteran blow his own horn, but they almost invariably praise the bravery of their buddies.

I have very infrequently heard them discuss an incident of cowardice, but they will never mention the name of the person involved.

As an aside, I was very disappointed in Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation," because the things he recounted weren't nearly as interesting as those I've heard first-hand, like you.
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Old 12-13-2004, 09:25 AM   #10 (permalink)
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And look at Japan today. A strong and reliable ally of the US.
War is a funny thing.
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