THE WAFFLEMAN: America’s Lucky Breaks At Pearl Harbor

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PEARL HARBOR was devastating blow to US Navy – but contained significant lucky breaks for USA as well.

     Yo! Here we go again with this bit of history of Pearl Harbor On Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, Adm. Chester Nimitz was in Washington, D.C. He was told by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt that he (Nimitz) would now be the Commander of the Pacific Fleet. He landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941.

On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. 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?”

Adm. Nimitz said, “The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America.”


Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked, “What do mean?”


Nimitz explained: Mistake number one: The Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every 10 crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been 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 opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those 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 we could have towed them to America. And we already had crews ashore anxious to man those ships.


ADM. CHESTER NIMITZ was resourceful Commander who led America’s recovery from Pearl Harbor assault.

ADM. CHESTER NIMITZ was resourceful Commander who led America’s recovery from Pearl Harbor assault.


Mistake number three: Every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war was in ground-level storage tanks five miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply. God was taking care of America.


Adm. Nimitz was a Texan, born and raised in Fredericksburg, Tex. He was a born optimist. Adm. Nimitz was able to see a silver lining in a situation and circumstance where everyone else saw only despair and defeatism. We desperately needed a leader that could see silver linings in the midst of the clouds of dejection, despair and defeat.


There is a reason our national motto is “In God We Trust”. Have we forgotten? I hope not.


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One Response to THE WAFFLEMAN: America’s Lucky Breaks At Pearl Harbor

  1. The Japanese did bomb the ships in drydock. I was on a fire hose that hosed down The Cassin and The Downes, until they blew up. The Pennsylvania was also hit, and it was in drydock. The Helena was aft of the drydock, and was hit. The Ogalala was sunk just aft of the drydock.

    But overall, Adm. Nimitz was correct in the way he saw it. A little more concentration on the structure, and not the ships in it, could have been disastrous!!!

    We did do some work that made it an easier task to get the ships back in service. For example, The Oklahoma capsized quickly, and rolled over on its starboard side, whereas the California was spared that end, as we volenteers worked to flood some compartments, and pump out others to keep it upright, so that it could settle on the bottom, making it an easier job to get it to drydock.

    Sure was a nasty Sunday!!!

    Earl Chaffee, Military Survivor

    Earl Chaffee
    December 13, 2013 at 11:26 am

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