1884 - 1943
Japanese Naval Commanderby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
Isoroku Yamamoto, the great general, was one of Japanese’s irreplaceable soldiers. He stood as a symbol of honor, bravery, and discipline. His principles were resolute, and his determination astounding. In the years before and during the second great world war, he held a place of prominence over the Japanese people. With a grand plan he led the surprise attack against the United States, pulling the great nation into an even greater war. Through the following years he led many valiant attacks against the enemy, until his demise by American fighters on April 18th, 1943.
Born on April 4th, 1884, in the town of Nagaoka, Isoroku Takano came to a poor school teacher. He grew up in a rather large family, and eventually enrolled in the Japanese Naval Academy at the age of 17. By 1904 he graduated just in time to take part in the 1905 Japanese-Russo war. While participating in said war, Isoroku lost two fingers on his left hand, a symbol of pride to him throughout the rest of his life.
By the year 1913, Yamamoto was chosen for a higher command and was sent to the Japanese Staff College. Upon graduation in 1916, he was adopted into the Yamamoto family and accordingly took their name. Deciding to gain a broader and more universal education, Yamamoto moved to the United States and studied at Harvard University for several years. There he learned many things, including a respect for the free people, and for the resourcefulness of the United States.
Finally, upon his return to Japan, he was placed in a position of command, in charge of an air unit. While in command he learned to fly himself, and began to see the necessity of transforming the Japanese navy. Eventually he gained command of the Naval Aviation Bureau and began to put his ideas of a naval transformation into effect. Instead of a navy consisting of battleships and escorts, Yamamoto envisioned a navy of quick strike aircraft carriers, who could strike with airplanes that would totally destroy the enemy, and retreat before a counterattack. This would be played out in Pearl Harbor many years later.
As the war approached, Yamamoto’s mind ran constantly back to the industry of the United States. He knew that if the US entered the war against Japan and the Axis powers, the United States would pose a devastating threat. With the ability and the manpower to become an economic giant, the United States would entirely turn the tide. With one of his many famous quotes, Yamamoto said that he could hold the United States in a state of confusion and chaos for six months, but he could not assure victory after that. He constantly tried to explain the United States for the giant it was, a giant that should not be angered. Unfortunately, many of his quotes were misinterpreted and spread as propaganda. For example Yamamoto commented that, if the United States was ever to surrender it would only be after they had been pushed all the way back to the their capital, and were forced to sign a treaty on the steps of the White House. However, the press took those words and warped them from a warning to a boasting threat that Yamamoto would humiliate the enemy and force them to sign a treaty on the White House steps.
Still the war came on, and the Japanese attacked the United States on December 7th, 1941. Yamamoto headed the task force from his flag ship a few hundred miles behind the main attack force. Though the line comes not from history, but from the movie "Tora Tora Tora", Yamamoto’s words that “we have awakened a sleeping dragon” strike close to what many historians believe the Admiral’s thoughts were at the time.
Over the years Yamamoto continued his military career, heading many other major battles such as Midway. Here Yamamoto met with defeat, exactly as he had foretold, as the United States carrier force crippled and slaughtered the four attack carriers that had come to destroy the island. After that, Yamamoto’s tactics began to become defensive, as the United States took island by island across the Pacific.
Thinking to boost his troop’s moral by a personal visit, Yamamoto decided to make a tour of the front lines. Taking off with four escort planes Yamamoto set course for the front lines. To Yamamoto’s extreme misfortune, the United States had intercepted the Admiral’s plans, and had set a trap of sixteen P-38 fighters. These effectively shot the Japanese hero out of the sky, killing him with a bullet to the head on April 18th, 1943. In this way the career of one of Japan's greatest soldiers was ended. Many Japanese fervently believe that Yamamoto committed suicide (compare to suicide bombers) in the process of “Bushido” before he died, yet the several witness’ state that Yamamoto must have died instantly from the bullet to the head. Thousands came to the two funerals, to commemorate the man who had led them to several early successes in the war.
From a Biblical perspective, many would argue that Japan’s military aggressiveness was brutal, uncivilized, and entirely ungodly. (See Japan's aggression against Russia and China.) With this view, the death of Yamamoto could be seen as an act of God towards the overall defeat of this bloodthirsty and brutal nation. From all reports, Yamamoto definitely did not believe in the God of the Bible, but rather in the traditional ancestral worship of his time.
“Isoroku Yamamoto: Biography and Much More From Answers.com:”
May 13, 2005
“Isoroku Yamamoto – Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia”
Wikipedia.com May 13, 2005
“Get Yamamoto” Burk Davis, published by Random House. 1969.