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Pearl Harbor – The Untold Story

ADM James Richardson
Official file photo. Adm James O. Richardson, US Navy.

I’d bet a dollar those of you know who Adm. Kimmel was, at Pearl Harbor, never heard of his predecessor: ADM James Richardson. 

Pearl Harbor. Things didn’t happen in a vacuum. Before December 7th, 1941 there was a big arse fight over moving the US Pacific Fleet (At the time called the Battle Force) away from San Diego to Pearl. So much so a Navy Admiral basically threw his career away fighting FDR and the CNO over it. 

The Pacific Theatre, 1941
A true representation of the distances involved. San Diego. Pearl Harbor. Japanese Homeland.

Here’s the rub. ADM Richardson was well versed on the Japanese Military and knew putting the fleet so far forward placed it at grave risk of a first strike. 

Admiral Nagumo’s Route to Pearl Harbor.
Admiral Chūichi Nagumo, Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). Notice the tracks for the USS Lexington and USS Enterprise. Look at how close Enterprise was to Pearl on Dec. 7th. Some say Nagumo should have launched a 3rd wave. Others believe he got out when the getting out was still good.

FDR and others were of the opinion that putting the fleet that far forward was a deterrent to the “rising Asian power”. And closer to where it would likely be needed. 

Japanese Battle Plans Dec 1941
Empire of Japan’s opening attack points and major goals for early in the war. Notice Nagumo’s track is only one small piece.

-History looks at FDR as a great War time president. 

-CNO Stark was eventually relived by ADM Ernest King and transferred to the European Theater Navy element. Many years later, The Navy named FFG-31 after ADM Stark.

ADM (4 star) Richardson was booted down to RADM (2 star) and was effectively out of the Navy by the end of 1942. And went inactive in 47. 

ADM James Richardson swearing in
Before the 9-11 commission, we’ve had the equivalent of the “Pearl Harbor Commission” in Congress. ADM Richardson swearing in to testify. When it was all said and done, the truth was well known. But we had a war to fight, so most of it fell out of public consciousness.

History matters. Sometimes the ones who lose aren‘t the losers. 





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