Tag Archives: Pearl Harbor

Why remembering Pearl Harbor remains important today

On December 7, 1941 the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service delivered a devastating blow to the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii.

This was a preemptive surprise attack by the Japanese, with the hope that they could decimate the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The Japanese believed that the United States was the greatest potential threat to their planned expansion of power in the Pacific region.

The early morning attack would launch in two waves from a half-dozen Japanese air craft carriers. Some 350 aircraft fighters and bombers would sink four American battleships and damage four more, sink eight other vessels, destroy 188 aircraft, and damage 159 more.

Over 2,400 Americans were killed with more than 1,100 injured. Japanese losses of life and equipment were minimal in comparison.

In response, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered one of the most famous and impassioned speeches in U.S. history to a joint session of the U.S. Congress the following day. It began as follows:

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. 

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.”

To that point, the United States had been able to stay out of active involvement in World War II. Meanwhile, the Japanese had become involved in an “Axis” powers agreement with Germany under Adolf Hitler and Italy under Benito Mussolini. Their aim was nothing less than global domination.

Roosevelt’s speech called on the Congress to declare war against Japan, which it did within the hour. Germany and Italy would then declare war on the United States. Thus began U.S. involvement in World War II, the deadliest war in human history.

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the Japanese Marshall Admiral of the Navy and leader of their combined fleet during the war, did not believe that Japan could win a lengthy war with America. 

Following the attack, Yamamoto is alleged to have written in his diary “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.

American had been trying to stay out of World War II to that point. Formally declaring neutrality in the opening years of conflict, the U.S. gradually began to provide aid to Great Britain and others, and imposed economic sanctions on Japan.

The Japanese attack did indeed awaken America from its slumber. It forced us to realize that we could no longer ignore the expansionist aims of Hitler, Mussolini, and Japanese Emperor Hirohito. 

We were now forced to either allow these ideologies to overrun Europe and Asia, eventually becoming a major threat to our own security, or go to war to try and defeat them.

In the end, American military might and civilian industry proved the difference in winning the war. However, it would not be the last time that our nation was attacked on our own shores, or threatened by an ideology bent on world domination.

Flash forward nearly 60 years to September 11, 2001. Most Americans reading this require no reminder of what happened on that equally beautiful morning. Another sneak attack from the skies, this time from radical extremists bent on spreading the dominance of an Islamic worldwide caliphate.

That extremist ideology did not begin on 9/11, and it has not gone away today. The Islamists continue to spread their hope for a renewed global caliphate ruling under Sharia law in both aggressive and passive ways. 

Attacks and bombings by ISIL, ISIS, the Taliban, al Qaeda and others gain headlines in Europe and elsewhere. But the ultimate growth of the caliphate is also furthered by overrunning traditional populations of western nations through waves of unfettered immigration, followed by non-assimilation with that traditional culture. 

So-called “No-Go Zones” have formed in nations around the world. In recent years, they have begun to form right here in the United States of America. These areas have been largely closed off to legitimate authorities, and are being governed by principles of Sharia law rather than the U.S. Constitution. Ultimately, the goal is to build more of these zones, and to grow and expand them.

The lessons of Pearl Harbor need to be remembered by Americans today, because there remain very real parallels. The ultimate goals of the Axis powers in World War II are similar to those of the radical Islamists today. 

The lesson of history is that you must be smart enough to recognize a threat when one emerges, and you must be prepared to face down that threat. To repeat an old but always relevant phrase, if we fail to remember the lessons of history we are destined to repeat them.

Real American Hero: John Mihalowski

John Mihalowski, Medal of Honor recipient


The old series which regularly ran here at my website continue to return with this first “Real American Heroes” piece in over four years.

This series normally remembers and honors heroes from the American military ranks. Many were recipients of the Medal of Honor. This is the highest and most prestigious honor which can be bestowed upon a member of the United States military. It is awarded to recognize outstanding acts of valor.

However, the series is not limited to winners of that honor, or even solely to the military. For instance, in April of 2010, I told the story of Brandon Darby, whose conversion from radical leftist to undercover FBI informant saved numerous lives and helped keep America safe.

Thus far, my series has told the story of 10 of these individuals. With this piece, ‘ROH’ will continue regularly into the future.

Today the spotlight shines on late United States Navy diver John Mihalowski for his actions on May 23, 1939. For those who know their history, this places his actions a full two and half years prior to American involvement in World War II.

There have been 3,516 Medal of Honor recipients to date in the history of the award. Only 193 of those honored came for actions performed during peacetime. Mihalowski, who died in October 1993, is the last such living recipient.

Mihalowski also did not perform his valorous actions alone. He was one of four recipients for actions performed that day. The other three honorees, Orson Crandall (1960), James McDonald (1973), and William Badders (1986) all predeceased him. All should be remembered together, and Mihalowski has been highlighted simply for being that surviving Medal of Honor recipient for actions during peacetime.

The events leading to the heroic actions of these four brave men actually began on May 12, 1939 when the submarine USS Squalus undertook a series of test dives off the coast of New Hampshire.

Over the next 10 days, Squalus successfully completed 18 dives. It was then on May 23, while attempting her 11th dive, that things went tragically wrong.

Approximately six miles off the coast at the Isle of Sholes, Squalus main induction valve failed. The sub quickly flooded, and 26 men were immediately drowned. The remaining crew were able to prevent final compartments from flooding, but the sub sank to the bottom in some 243 feet of water.

The submarine rescue ship Falcon was dispatched to her aid with our four heroes on board as part of the crew. Falcon was equipped with new technology, the McCann Rescue Chamber. This device was capable of holding up to eight rescued crew members, as well as two rescuers.

Mihalowski and the three other Real American Heroes were the divers assigned to the actual rescue operation. The men utilized newly developed heliox diving schedules which were designed to help overcome cognitive impairment symptoms that had previously accompanied such efforts.

Using the MRC and the heliox schedules, the four men were able to rescue all 33 remaining Squalus crew members. Mihalowski and Badders, who was the senior member of the dive crew, made one final effort to rescue possible survivors in the Squalus flooded portion.

While no survivors were discovered there, the effort was extremely perilous for those final two divers. As their Medal of Honor citations read, both men were “fully aware of the great danger involved…became incapacitated, there was no way in which either could be rescued.”

Secretary of the Navy Charles Edison presented Medals of Honor to The men are (left to right): Badders; Mihalowski; Crandall; and McDonald.

The four men further assisted in the raising of Squalus itself, a project which took over two months and 628 dives. It required the divers to pass cables underneath the submarine, attach pontoons for buoyancy, and ensure she was raised slowly.

Squalus was reconditioned, repaired, and overhauled. Recommissioned as the USS Sailfish on May 15, 1940, she headed out for the Pacific in January 1941. Sailfish arrived at Pearl Harbor in March, then headed to the Philippines. She engaged in a dozen successful missions during World War II.

As for Mihalowski, during World War II, he took part in rescue and salvage operations on six ships that had been exploded in Pearl Harbor. He also took part in similar actions as executive officer aboard the USS Shackle, during the battle of Okinawa in 1945. 

After the war, he participated in harbor clearance in Japan and in salvage work after the Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests. He transferred to Fleet Reserve in 1948 but was returned to active duty in 1950. 

Mihalowski was reinstated as Lieutenant and assigned to the Naval Gun Factory in Washington, D.C., finally retiring as a Lieutenant Commander in 1958. He passed away at his Florida home on October 29, 1993 at the age of 82

Click on the ‘Tag’ below in order to read the entire series. 

How Long Will We "Never Forget"?

Embed from Getty Images

For the past 11 years on this date, we’ve all heard, spoke, typed a now familiar refrain: “Never Forget!”

What we must never forget, of course, are the attacks against our nation on September 11th, 2001 by radical Islamists bringing their war against western civilization right to our doorsteps.

Today, I heard a couple of different things that made me realize just how difficult a proposition that it is to actually “never forget” something, even something as big as 9/11.

First, on my drive in to work this morning, I was listening to a radio station when the usual cast of morning show hosts began to discuss the date, and to go over their memories of that Tuesday morning.

Those of us who experienced it can remember clearly what an absolutely gorgeous, perfect morning it was – clear skies and comfortable temperatures. The kind of day you give thanks to the Lord for blessing us with.

Then everything changed, in a span of just 17 minutes between 8:46 and 9:03 am, when those sons of Muhammad crashed a pair of hijacked airliners into each of the iconic Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on the waterfront of Manhattan island in New York City. Just over a half hour later, a 3rd airliner crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a 4th crashed into a field in Pennsylvania a half hour after that.

The United States of America was under attack on our own shores for the first time in 60 years, the first time since World War II, when the Japanese decimated the American naval fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The ensuing chaos, the grounding of flights across the nation’s skies, the collapse of the iconic towers, the growing numbers of people lost and killed. Firefighters, police officers, other rescue workers, and regular citizens putting their lives on the line to attempt and effect rescues.

How could anyone who lived through it ever forget all that.

Ah, but there’s the rub. You see, not everyone alive today lived through that, at least not in their conscious memories. Those radio hosts that I was listening to brought up that their kids, now in the upper levels of elementary school and in junior high, had no direct memory of 9/11 whatsoever. Sure, they saw films on TV, but for these kids, and for many kids today of any high school age, the experience is not what adults of that day remember, if these kids and teens recall anything of it first-hand.

The second thing that happened today was that my brother complained that there had been no widespread, organized “Moment of Silence” at 9:37 am, the time that the 3rd plane had exploded into the side of the Pentagon, and a moment that had been memorialized each year since.

My explanation didn’t seem to satisfy him, but I believe it is no less true. We are not going to, as a nation, “Never Forget” – at least we are not going to remember with the raw emotion that people who are now in their mid-20’s and older feel.

My brother felt that “poor planning may have played a role” in this particular instance, and he may be right. But that only serves to highlight my point – there would have been no such “poor planning” in 2002 or 2005 or 2008.

The further we get away from that day, the more people are going to not build every emotional remembrance into their planning, and the more people who experienced it at all are simply going to have left this earth.

For kids today, their memory of 9/11 is what mine would be of the Kennedy assassination – nothing. Sure, I was alive when JFK was killed in Dallas in November 1963, but I was days shy of my 2nd birthday. There was no way that I was going to have any memory of that event, even though it was on our home television daily, and even though every fabric of society around me was affected deeply. I learned of and know about the events from TV, movie, and book accounts. I know of the event as history. That’s how today’s kids know 9/11, as history.

So while we will not forget the events of the morning of September 11th, 2001 for a long time, and those of us who actually lived it will carry it with us for decades still to come, some for maybe as much as 2/3 of a century, the fact is that one day 9/11 will be to citizens of the United States what Pearl Harbor is to us today – history. Sure, we will keep on saying that we must “Never Forget”, but the raw emotional power of the moment will be gone.

The real challenge is to make sure that Americans of any age and time never forget the important turning points in our nation’s history, from Lexington & Concord to Gettysburg, from Pearl Harbor to Dallas, from Memphis to Shanksville.

We need to ensure that even as the emotion passes, and as every person alive that day passes, that the people of the United States somehow learn to “Never Forget” the events that have shaped the very fabric of the greatest nation that God has ever blessed.

Our Last Christmas Together

USS Russell at Pearl Harbor, Christmas 2007

For many of us there will be much to celebrate this Christmas. Family, friends, parties, dinners. Gifts, food, drink, music. Trees, Santa Clause, Rudolph, Frosty. And of course, the celebration of the birth of the Christ child. For many of us this will be a very happy time of year.

But for some of us, this will be our first Christmas without a very special person in our lives. In fact, there are a probably a few of us, and one day this will be all of us, for whom this will be our own final Christmas. Even more tragically for some, even at this late date, last year will prove to have been our final Christmas.

Today is December 7th, and it marks the 68th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks which drew America directly into World War II. For many around the world at that time, it had already been a time of loss, and for many more it was a time of concern for loved ones fighting in the war.

For Americans waking up and heading out to church on that fateful Sunday morning it was a time of growing concern. And yet to that point, we were not directly involved in the fighting that was happening in Europe. Most were still looking forward to the coming of Christmas in a few weeks. For some, it would mark the return home, even if just briefly, of their family members and friends serving on the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

What many of those brave soldiers, sailors, airmen, medical and other personnel stationed at Pearl did not know was that they were waking up to their final moments in this life. They had already celebrated their final Christmas here on earth, and not a single one of them realized it at that point.

There are many people who think that this is too maudlin a topic for discussion. This is a time for buying presents, decorating homes and trees, wrapping gifts, planning family get-togethers. It is most certainly no time to think about someone getting sick or dying. These people are absolutely correct, and that is definitely not what I am advocating by bringing up the subject.

What I am pointing out is a simple fact: this will be the final Christmas for many people, including many who have no idea of it, and who have no reason to believe that would be so at this point. But even if only in the backs of our minds, everyone knows that one day their own final Christmas will come along.

The point of this topic is to again bring home the idea of the true meaning of Christmas. For the vast majority of us, this is not our wedding anniversary, nor is it our birthday. This is the season that we celebrate the gift that God Himself gave to us all in the birth of his Son, Jesus Christ.

The celebration of Christmas is something that we need to make room for in our hearts, no matter what our personal experiences may be at this time. Is someone that you know, perhaps even yourself, very sick and possibly dying? Celebrate Christmas. Has someone that you loved been taken from you this past year, perhaps suddenly? Celebrate Christmas.

When I say that we should celebrate Christmas despite our circumstances, I am not necessarily saying that you should get out and live it up. I am not saying that you need to drink and dance and make merry. What I am saying is that you fully and deeply in your heart and mind recognize the meaning of Christmas, and find a way to keep the season holy.

Perhaps your loss or illness has caused you to not decorate as you normally would, or not buy gifts as you normally would, or not attend a holiday party as you normally would. Again, no one is saying that you have to operate as if nothing is different this year. But there are alternatives.

Ask a close friend or family member to help you put a few small decorations and lights around your home. They will be more than happy to help you. Go online and buy a few special people a small holiday flower arrangement. Go to church instead of going to a party. Pray to God for direction and healing during a time that has you reflecting more on past happiness than on the present.

Mostly, draw on those many happy memories that we all have of Christmas past. Times shared with parents and spouses, children and grandchildren, friends and lovers. Enjoy some quiet time listening to holiday music, watching Christmas specials on television, and simply opening our hearts in quiet time to God, thanking him for his own special gift to us.

This might very well be our last Christmas together. Perhaps last year already was. That would indeed be tragic in many respects. But it would not be nearly as tragic as our having spent our final Christmas together, and then whichever of us has survived not allowing ourselves to again celebrate a merry and happy Christmas.

For the families of the service persons who died on December 7th, 1941 the final Christmas together had already been spent. I am quite sure that December 25th, 1941 was a sad day in many homes. But 68 Christmas Days have past since, and my bet is that the vast majority of those families have learned to move on and again celebrate in the true Christmas spirit.

That is what their loved ones lost on that fateful day which lives in infamy would have wanted. It is what your own loved ones would want for you and your families today. It is certainly what we would want if it were we who passed on to our glory in God’s kingdom in Heaven. Let’s enjoy our last Christmas together, whenever that may be…and the one after…and the one after…and the one…

NOTE: The image accompanying this story is of the USS Russell, a guided missile destroyer which won the 2007 first prize in the annual holiday ship-lighting contest at Pearl Harbor

Islamism Series: Call a Spade a Spade

The man shouted “Allahu Akbar!” as he pulled out the FN Herstal tactical pistol which he had purchased back in the summer from a gun store in Texas.

He then proceeded to methodically assassinate 13 Americans and injure dozens more in what has been described as everything from a ‘crazed attack’ to a ‘shooting rampage’.

In fact, last week’s attacks at the Fort Hood, New Jersey army base have been called everything but what they were: a terrorist attack by a radical Islamist, the first on U.S. soil since 9/11/2001.

39-year old Nidal Malik Hasan is a psychiatrist by trade, a trade which he learned as an enlisted man in the United States Army.

How could an American soldier shoot fellow soldiers and others? Was he simply mad? The obvious answer to anyone looking with clear vision is that Hasan was not mad, at least not clinically insane. What Hasan wa,s and continues to be, is an Islamist terrorist.

While performing his residency requirements at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Hasan made a presentation to colleagues on the proper role of Muslims in the American military.

In his presentation, Hasan stated that “fighting to establish an Islamic State to please God, even by force, is condoned by the Islam.” He further advocated the military releasing Muslims from their obligations to decrease “adverse events” and increase morale.

According to a cousin, Hasan was a practicing Muslim who became more devout following the death of his parents separately in 1998 and 2001. His family also said that he turned against the wars after hearing stories from troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2001, Hasan attended the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Virginia. The religious leader or ‘imam’ of the mosque at that time was Anwar al-Awlaki, and Hasan had deep respect for al-Awlaki’s teachings.

This is notable because also attending the same mosque at the same time were both Hani Hanjour and Nawaf al-Hazmi, two of the 9/11 hijackers, as well as Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, who was convicted for his role in an assassination plot against President Bush.

In the aftermath of the Fort Hood terror attack, al-Awlaki, who had conveniently fled to Yemen following the 9/11 attacks, praised Hasan for his actions in murdering the soldiers and for the overall shooting event. He also called on other Muslims to “follow in the footsteps of men like Nidal” if they were serving in the American military.

Hasan was said by fellow soldiers to have been constantly proselytizing about his faith with fellow doctors, patients, and soldiers. In the months prior to his attack, Hasan had come under investigation by federal authorities for internet postings that said suicide bombers were sacrificing their lives for a noble cause, among other messages.

Hasan was known to have made attempts at contacting al Qaeda directly, and had continued to exchange emails with al-Awlaki, especially seeking guidance as it became clear that Hasan was going to be deployed to the Middle East where he might have to directly fight against Muslims.

On the day of the attack, Hasan handed out copies of the Quran, Islam’s holy book, and was said to be in a peaceful state, often the description when a suicide bomber has resigned themselves to their fate.

Now comes word today that the Obama administration is going to take Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the acknowledged mastermind of those 9/11 terrorist attacks, to trial for those attacks in a civilian court. Not handle him as a war criminal, but in the same manner as a common criminal would be handled.

This is the pre-9/11 mentality, handle terrorism against the United States as a law enforcement matter rather than as a matter of national security.

Terrorism analyst Neil Livingstone has made an incredibly chilling and proper analogy. Trying Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other Islamist terrorists is akin to going back to World War II times and taking the Japanese who attacked Pearl Harbor to civilian courts rather than handling them as war criminals. Livingstone is, of course, exactly right.

This is just another in a long series of missteps by the Obama administration since taking office earlier in the year. The administration seems to be all about political correctness. The President has shown from the beginning, particularly in his hasty order to close the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay, that he refuses to take responsibility for keeping America safe.

How many more Hasan’s are ‘sleeper’ terrorists serving in the American military, or working in American businesses?

How man are studying in American schools just waiting for either the orders, or the encouragement, or the inspiration, or the resources, or just for simply their own ‘right moment’ to pull the plug on their ‘legitimate’ American cover and take their own action in furtherance of the jihad to bring about Islamic rule under Sharia law here and elsewhere around the world?

To call Nidal Hasan an “Army psychiatrist” or a “crazed gunman” is to tell the smallest portion of the truth of what he is in reality. To call Khalid Sheik Mohammed a murder conspirator is to tell the smallest portion of the truth.

The truth is that both men are Islamist terrorists, and the time is long since past to both call a spade a spade, and to treat them accordingly.

NOTE: This is a continuation of the ‘Islamism Series’, an ongoing series relating to the issues of radical Islam in general and its presence here in America in particular. All entries in the series can be read by clicking on to the below tag.