On 75th anniversary, remember Nimitz
For Pearl Harbor, the Japanese forged a strategic weapon of six heavy carriers for a coordinated attack by 360 planes on Sunday, on Dec. 7, 1941. Never before had any country executed or planned a raid by more than two carriers on any naval or land target.
No inkling existed within any allied operational or intelligence community of a capability beyond the 21 torpedo bombers used by a British carrier to attack the Italian navy at Taranto.
On Christmas Day 1941, Adm. Chester Nimitz took command. When he arrived, he saw a sunken battle fleet and was assailed by a poisonous atmosphere created by black oil, charred wood, burned paint and rotting flesh.
However, he found that the public’s perception was wrong. The carriers, their escorts and the submarines stood ready to take the offensive.
The unexpected atrocity of Pearl Harbor required Japan to contend with the U.S. Navy from its forward base in Hawaii rather than force its enemy to begin operations from the West Coast. The dry-dock, repair shops and tank farm were intact.
Nimitz immediately sent submarines into Japanese waters and conducted carrier operations thwarting Japanese initiatives.
Adm. Raymond Spruance said of Nimitz, “The one big thing about him was that he was always ready to fight. ... And he wanted officers who would push the fight with the Japanese.”