Skip to comments.The Assassination of Isoroku Yamamoto - In comparison
Posted on 05/05/2011 2:11:32 PM PDT by FoxPro
To boost morale following the defeat at Guadalcanal, Yamamoto decided to make an inspection tour throughout the South Pacific. On 14 April 1943, the US naval intelligence effort, code-named "Magic", intercepted and decrypted a message containing specific details regarding Yamamoto's tour, including arrival and departure times and locations, as well as the number and types of planes that would transport and accompany him on the journey. Yamamoto, the itinerary revealed, would be flying from Rabaul to Ballalae Airfield, on an island near Bougainville in the Solomon Islands, on the morning of 18 April 1943.
U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox to "Get Yamamoto." Knox instructed Admiral Chester W. Nimitz of Roosevelt's wishes. Admiral Nimitz consulted Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., Commander, South Pacific, then authorized a mission on 17 April to intercept Yamamoto's flight en route and shoot it down.
A squadron of P-38 Lightning aircraft were assigned the task as only they possessed the range to intercept and engage. Eighteen hand-picked pilots from three units were informed that they were intercepting an "important high officer" with no specific name given. Yamamoto's last photo alive (April 18, 1943)
On the morning of 18 April, despite urgings by local commanders to cancel the trip for fear of ambush, Yamamoto's two Mitsubishi G4M fast transport aircraft left Rabaul as scheduled for the 315 mi (507 km) trip. Shortly after, 18 P-38s with long-range drop tanks took off from Guadalcanal. Sixteen arrived after wave-hopping most of the 430 mi (690 km) to the rendezvous point, maintaining radio silence throughout. At 09:34 Tokyo time, the two flights met and a dogfight ensued between the P-38s and the six escorting A6M Zeroes.
First Lieutenant Rex T. Barber engaged the first of the two Japanese transports which turned out to be Yamamoto's plane. He targeted the aircraft with gunfire until it began to spew smoke from its left engine. Barber turned away to attack the other transport as Yamamoto's plane crashed into the jungle.
The crash site and body of Yamamoto were found the next day in the jungle north of the then-coastal site of the former Australian patrol post of Buin by a Japanese search and rescue party, led by army engineer, Lieutenant Hamasuna. According to Hamasuna, Yamamoto had been thrown clear of the plane's wreckage, his white-gloved hand grasping the hilt of his katana, still upright in his seat under a tree. Hamasuna said Yamamoto was instantly recognizable, head dipped down as if deep in thought. A post-mortem of the body disclosed that Yamamoto had received two gunshot wounds, one to the back of his left shoulder and another to his left lower jaw that exited above his right eye.
To cover up the fact that the Allies were reading Japanese code, American news agencies were told that civilian coast-watchers in the Solomon Islands saw Yamamoto boarding a bomber in the area. They did not publicize the names of most of the pilots that attacked Yamamoto's plane because one of them had a brother who was a prisoner of the Japanese, and U.S. military officials feared for his safety. State Funeral for Yamamoto in Tokyo
This proved to be the longest fighter-intercept mission of the war. In Japan, it became known as the "Navy A Incident" (ja:海軍甲事件 Kaigun kō-jiken). It raised morale in the United States, and shocked the Japanese who were officially told about the incident only on 21 May 1943. The death of Yamamoto was a major psychological blow for the Japanese nation which had been told of victory after victory even after Midway and Guadalcanal. It also forced the Japanese government to acknowledge that the Americans were quickly rebuilding their military capacity and had begun going on the offensive.
His staff cremated his remains at Buin, and the ashes were returned to Tokyo aboard the battleship Musashi, Yamamoto's last flagship. Yamamoto was given a full state funeral on 5 June 1943, where he received, posthumously, the title of Marshal and was awarded the Order of the Chrysanthemum, (1st Class). He was also awarded Nazi Germany's Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. Part of his ashes were buried in the public cemetery in Tama, Tokyo (多摩霊園), and the remainder at his ancestral burial grounds at the temple of Chuko-ji in Nagaoka City. He was succeeded as commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet by Admiral Mineichi Koga.
Yamamoto was a valid military target.
Ah those were the days, when armies wore uniforms.....
To this day, the P-38 is one sharp looking machine.
When are we going to hear froim the Magicians Union that the code name is offensive?
Yamamoto was a valid military target.
I seem to recall from my history lessons in high school that there was a quaint old document created called a "Declaration of War", passed by the Congress on December 8, 1941. After that declaration, any member of Japan's military was a legitimate target for attack.
He was. "Assassination" is arguably more of a term of art than anything else. Even the Church Commission, concluded that the intentional targeting of a plainly military leader during armed conflict was legal even in the face of prohibition of assassination. And, EO 12333 doesn't preclude targeted killing in an armed conflict though it does prohibit political assassination.
I’ve always thought the shootdown of Yammamoto an Act of God. Kind of like the Battle of Midway, it could easily have gone the other way. Even though the Allies had the info, still, finding his plane in the the middle of the big sky like that, was like finding a needle in a haystack.
I have always thought this incident would have made for a great movie.
No mention of Tom Lanphier?
It wasn’t worth risking Magic over.
Yamamoto the “brilliant” stratagist split the Kido Butai of six carriers in May 42 to conduct Coral Sea with only 2 carriers. Shokaku’s flight deck was wrecked by bombs and Zuikaku’s air groups were mauled meaning neither carrier was available for Midway. And they didn’t get Port Moresby either.
Around the time Yamamoto was assassinated, he had come up with the “brilliant” strategy of committing the retraining carrier air groups of Zuikaku and Shokaku for a landbased air offensive and Japanese naval pilot quality never recovered.
Actually I was thinking the Magic Dragon Society might complain.
I like twin boomed aircraft in general, and built 1/72 scale models of them as a boy.
based on Enigma encryption
the essence of this was not declassified until 1976.
Bamster think politics first everything else last. He probably wanted to save killing OBL for the election run, late 2012. Darn that.
I think the word assassination is valid for the planned killing of any person of power and notoriety. This isn’t a legal document. I am not a lawyer.
I think the word is generally, and aptly, descriptive in this case.
Love the P-38.
It is indeed - and I've always thought the P-51 just looked like a bad-@ss
Snipers target enemy officers all the time, and it’s not called assassination. Assassination is the killing of a political leader, not a military commander.
I saw an hour long story on “The History Channel” about the event. I thought “Lanphier” if that is the correct spelling, did not sound like a credible person.
On the other hand you never can tell. Sometimes a totally honest person sounds like they are lying.
It really was an incredible story of precision flying, good luck, extraordinary timing and brilliant intelligence.
We really were good back then.
Gawd, I hate to be defending zero on this, but I believe the operative word would be "probable" location.
Yes it turned out to be the location, but I do not believe they ever had 100% certainty, even up to the moment they launched the attack that OBL was there.
What they had was the first indicators in August that this was likely his hide out, after that they built their case.
This is the plane that got Yamamoto
DOGFIGHTS, P38 LIGHTNING VS ME 109
FDR (Roosevelt) unlike POTUS Obama, wanted to win WWII and....in doing so realized you must kill the enemy, both military and civilian. This was done, in both Japan & Germany and with all the Axis support countries. Obama does not care for America, so Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, the Sudan, Iran go untouched. Facts and truth will show that Obama was forced into a yes or no on Bin Laden by both CIA Director Panetta and Secretary Of the DOD, Gates. Valerie Jarrett, an Osama Bin Laden adoree was urging Obama not to pull the trigger. Obama did of course, throw Bin Laden under the bus, but for his own political survival which will not happen. Obama is protecting and shielding Gaddafi, his soul brother and with direction from Farrakhan & Rev. Wright whom both adore Gaddafi. One day the American public and voters will come to realize what a low-life, dirt bag POTUS Obama really is. Shame the fools have not figured this anti-American, un-American empty suit out!!! As for Yamamoto, he was a brilliant Admiral, he loved his country, he knew, that in a prolonged war with theUSA, Japan would be badly defeated. He detested the Japanese military leadership, because he knew Americans would come back at Japan with a hate and determination to destroy the nation of Japan which they did. It was probably better that he was not around to see his beloved Japan on her knees and bleeding to death. Roosevelt, Doolittle, Halsey, Nimitz, Arnold, Patton, Eisenhower, Churchill, and....on and on and on!!! Dirt Bag, POTUS Obama does belong in the same room with these heroes that saved the world, freedom and our nations!!!
Folks, there was a Declaration of War between Japan and the United States. It addition, Yamamoto was a uniformed combatant carrying an ID card. There is no comparison with this case and bin Laden. He was not a uniformed combatant and there is no Declaration of War. Note that the Geneva Convention generally does not cover non uniformed combatants. Traditionally, they were questioned, awarded a non judicial punishment, and subsequently shot.
“I seem to recall from my history lessons in high school that there was a quaint old document created called a “Declaration of War”, passed by the Congress on December 8, 1941. After that declaration, any member of Japan’s military was a legitimate target for attack.”
All a Declaration of War accomplishes it the notification of another power that a state of war exists. A state of war existed the moment the first bomb was dropped on Pearl Harbor and from that moment on all members of Japan’s military became legitimate targets for attack. The Declaration of War was a mere formality.
By the same token, when the first plane crashed into the WTC, a state of war existed between the US and Al-Qaeda and from that moment all members of Al-Qaeda became legitimate targets for attack.
I don’t see the Yamamoto and bin Laden as comparable (apples and apples) situations.
Had the capability, and opportunity, existed in 1943 to conduct a snatch-n-grab of Yamamoto the US certainly would have tried to take him alive.
However, they didn’t. So the next best alternative (killing him during his tour) was taken.
In the case of bin Laden there was definitely capability, and an opportunity, to capture him alive.
That doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t have been killed, it just means that the situation is somewhat more complicated. With tradoffs between any intelligence take that could be pulled out of him (after Eric Holder’s DoJ read him his rights and allowed him to lawyer up, of course), the threat he posed to the SEALs by potentially having a weapon or suicide vest, and the potential for a demoralizing circus-like atmosphere if he were to go on trial (including the potential for him to continue to act as the spiritual leader of AQ while behind bars).
I don’t know what potential intel could have been dragged out of him, since he doesn’t seem to have been in any sort of operational control of AQ. So setting that part aside, I don’t think that he was worth the life of a single SEAL, and that allowing him to live and be tried would be extremely damaging to the nation and the War on Terror. So I think the decision to exterminate him using 5.56 insect repellent was the right one.
No link? What’s the source for this article?
Absent a vote from Congress a state of war would not be authorized under our Constitution.
While I wouldn't disagree that from the moment the first plane crashed into the WTC any killing of any Al Queda member would be perfectly justified - our otherwise Imperial Presidency cannot conduct war unilaterally without authorization from Congress (except apparently in Libya).
(Later Justice) John Paul Stevens was one of the Navy cryptographers who helped decode the original message about Yamamoto’s tour.
Thank you for telling the truth. So many Americans seem to have lost the hunger for it.
I’m really worried the white house is using the media to socially engineer Americans into thinking political assassinations at the order of a dictatorial white house is acceptable.
I've always found it fascinating to read about Yamamoto's close ties to the U.S. in the decades before World War II. He attended Harvard from 1919-21 and was assigned to work in Washington D.C. for a while as a young naval officer. He also seemed to have a pretty keen sense of Japan's limitations in fighting the U.S. in the Pacific.
It is the wikipedia article, which I feel is quite good.
FR wont let us post a wiki with attribution, which I think is a shame. Most of Wikipedia is quite good, really a world treasure, in many respects. Yes there are parts of it that you can throw rocks at, but that is a distinct minority of it.
When you have 7 million articles, there is going to be something to hate and disparage.
As a history buff, I dont know what I would do without wikipedia. I think the folks at FR should embrace it, and pitch in to make it better.
As you pointed out, Congress did vote. That vote constituted a declaration of war. You will note that nothing in the Constitution describes the contents, format, etc., of a declaration of war. Consequently, it is up to congress whether or not to actually use the phrase “Declaration of War”.
Nicely said. There is a Borders bookstore in my area going out of business. I’m snatching up as many military history books as I can at 70% off!
“Absent a vote from Congress a state of war would not be authorized under our Constitution.”
Let me add, a ‘state of war’ is not at all dependent upon a declaration of war or even upon the constitution. A state of war exists anytime two or more are engaged in an armed conflict. A declaration of war only formallizes that state.
Our constitution assigns the power to declare war to the congress but is completely silent as to how congress shall exercise that power.
Considering it took 8 years to find out the possible hideout, then 8-9 months does not seem out of the realm of possibility to go from “probable” to highly likely.
But it is a necessity, one tragically overlooked in the case of Libya - giving cover to cowardly Democrats who don't want to be on record voting for war - and to cowardly Republicans who don't want to be on record voting for 0bama’s war.
I belong to The Society of American Magicians, The International Brotherhood of Magicians, and a Magic Dealer Association.
You would never hear a complaint from us.....we know how to keep a secret.
....and if someone did complain.....we know how to disappear them!
About all the mission accomplished was to enshrine the memory of Admiral Yammoto. Subsequent events would have tarnished his reputation within the Japanese hirarchy, even though he had predicted them well in advance.
The interception was a technical and airmaship feat of note. Mag compasses in the P-38 were notoriously unreliable, so it was a remarkable feat of navigation by a single pilot aircraft reportedly conducted in complete radio silence. It also posed the possibility of exposing our ability to read the Japanese naval code.
Decades later a dispute grew among the surviving praticipating pilots as to who really “shot down Yammoto”. But there are no similarities between the interception of Yammoto and the taking of bin Laden IMO. Yammoto was a serving military member. Bin Laden was a terrorist. The former was a warrior, the latter merely a rat. >PS
Wise move!!! There is much written on American history and military activity. Yamamoto was “a gambling man”, had spent time in America, knew our industrial might and depth, understood Americans, liked a drink once in a while and loved gambling. He knew he had one shot at America, and when he did not catch our aircraft carriers at Pearl Harbor, he knew Japan was in deep trouble. The battleships had seen better days. The age of the aircraft carrier had arrived and he knew it. Pursue your reading about our forefathers. Our Present POTUS Obama knows nothing of American history and that includes the magnificent role that American Blacks have played in our history from the Revolutionary War to present. The idiot Obama has nary a clue!!! Sad!
Are you aware Kelly Johnson, the same guy that designed the U-2, SR-71 and even had a hand in the F-117 is the guy that led the design team for the P-38?