By Dick Martin
On April 18, 1943, American pilots took off from embattled Henderson Field on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands on what would have been normally routine flights. Instead, the flights were sent to bring down a plane containing Japanese Admiral Yamamoto. Yamamoto was not just any Japanese admiral. He was the Japanese admiral who planned and executed the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor.
By that time in 1941, the government of Japan was controlled by militarists. Yamamoto, who had studied in America and seen their potential to mobilize their industrial might knew and said that the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor would at best give them six months to a year to run wild in the Pacific and then America’s industrial might would catch up and pass the Japanese in dominating the Pacific Theatre by overcoming the Japanese with their overwhelming industrial might. Japan’s militarist dominated government would not listen to Yamamoto; but Yamamoto, being an obedient professional, soldiered on as best he could. That meant planning and leading the attack on Pearl Harbor and Midway Island.
Unknown to the Japanese, the Americans had deciphered the Jap code. Yamamoto was in the Solomon Islands on a morale boosting trip to visit his soldiers and begin a new military operation. The Americans knew from deciphering the Jap messages that on June 18 Yamamoto would be on a plane from Rabaul (Japanese Headquarters) to Bougainville to visit his troops there. Consequently, after getting permission from Washington, the USAAF sent P-38s from Guadalcanal’s Henderson Field to intercept and down Yamamoto’s plane putting an end to the architect of the Jap attack on Pearl Harbor. Yamamoto’s death was a bitter pill for the Japanese military; and in avenging the defeat at Pearl Harbor, a great boost in the morale of America.
Taken mostly from National Geographic’s “Atlas of World War II”