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Wednesday, December 7

75 Years ago... December 7th, 1941

Special 75th Anniversary reflection
Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz…
his profound perspective and insight into the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

“Thanks to Admiral Nimitz’ ability to see, we have, on record, a much better account of what actually happened at Pearl Harbor than the accounts told by the script writers of the movies TORA! TORA! TORA! (1970) and PEARL HARBOR (2001)." - Keith

Our part is to recognize that, when it seems we are
surrounded by troubles and woe, in the words of the prophet Elisha, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha." (2 Kings 6:16-17)

Find this, and more, in our 30-year review of TTM in TTM MAGAZINE.
The rare ability to see, instead of merely looking, is illustrated in the true account of U.S. Navy Admiral Chester Nimitz’s profound insights as he surveyed the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Admiral Nimitz had eyes that could see with respect to tactical naval warfare. He was so well studied and experienced in the art of war that it did not take him long to recognize where the Japanese had made three fatal mistakes in their planning for and execution of their attacks on our ships at Pearl Harbor. These three errors rendered them unsuccessful in their attempt to utterly destroy the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet.
If you visit Pearl Harbor, you will find boats ferrying people out to the USS Arizona Memorial every 30 minutes. In the gift shop there you will find a book entitled, “Reflections on Pearl Harbor” by Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz. In that book, you will read that on Sunday, December 7, 1941, Admiral Nimitz was attending a concert in Washington, D.C. when he was paged and told there was a phone call for him. When he answered the phone, he found that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was on the line.
The President told Admiral Nimitz that in light of the attack on Pearl Harbor Admiral Nimitz would now be the Commander of the Pacific Fleet. Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet, landing at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941. He found such a spirit of despair, dejection, and defeat that it would seem the Japanese had already won the war.
On Christmas Day, 1941, Admiral Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters everywhere you looked. As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, “Well, Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?”
Admiral Nimitz’s reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice. Admiral Nimitz said, “The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?”
Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked, “What do you mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?” Nimitz’s explanation is summarized below.
Mistake number one: The Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and then sunk, we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.
Mistake number two: When the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks that were sitting across from those ships. If they had destroyed the dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of the damaged ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time it would have taken to tow them to America; and I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.
Mistake number three: Every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is in storage tanks on top of the ground only five miles away. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our entire fuel supply.
That’s why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make or God was taking care of America. It was Admiral Nimitz’ many years of first-hand tactical experience that gave him the ability to recognize that “The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make.” In turn, it was that same experience that equipped him to be able to see God’s divine intervention where most saw only despair and defeat.
The young helmsman and so many others looked at the devastation and were in many ways crippled by the destruction and despair. On the other hand, Admiral Nimitz looked at the same devastation and saw something completely different. He knew how unlikely it was that the very capable Japanese war planners would miss three such obvious tactical points while preparing their assault, and this made it evident to him that God had intervened on America’s behalf on December 7, 1941. As devastating as the loss of our brave men and women were that day, as Admiral Nimitz states, the results would have been much worse if God had not intervened on our behalf.
Even as Admiral Nimitz looked at utter devastation and could see the grace of God at work on the behalf of our great Nation, we have the same opportunity to look beyond whatever it is that we may be going through and see the redeeming power of God working on our behalf as well. As the Scripture says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” These are not empty words: God means every one of them, and He wants us to trust Him to do His part.
God promises that in every trial He will provide the way of escape. He also promises to never leave us or forsake us. We need to believe Him and we need to seek Him early, so that when we do find ourselves in trouble, He will open our eyes that we may truly see: because eyes that look are common; eyes that see are rare!

For more on this topic, and many others, see "TTM Magazine," celebrating 30 Years of Service, on our website at TowardTheMark.com.   

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