Mitsuo Fuchida, Japanese Commander at Pearl Harbor

March 18, 2013
by Randy Miller

Commander Mitsuo Fuchida led the first wave of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was the pilot who famously sent the signal Tora, Tora, Tora, the code words that they had achieved complete surprise.

As a child during the victory over Russia, Commander Mitsuo Fuchida developed strong aspirations to be in the Japanese Navy. He entered the Navy in 1921 and made commander in October 1941.

Mitsuo Fuchida at Pearl Harbor

The Japanese were maintaining radio silence. Mitsuo Fuchida was the only one permitted to touch his radio.  At 7:49am he gave the signal to attack, "To, To, To". Just 4 minutes later, he was so convinced that the attack would be victorious that he signaled that the surprise attack was successful with "Tora, Tora, Tora". The signal reached Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto who was in the Inland Sea aboard the battleship Nagato.

commander Fuchida

Lt. Com. Fuchida, Leader of the Japanese Air Strike on Pearl Harbor, Oahu.

The first wave of the attack led by Fuchida was very successful, only 9 planes were lost.  The second wave saw an increase to 20 Japanese planes lost. That increase convinced Vice Admiral Nagumo to cancel further waves of attacks. Fuchida, as the chief coordinator, did not share Admiral Nagumo's opinion. Historians often dispute the direction that the war would have taken had Nagumo heeded Fuchida's advice to continue attacking and causing greater damage to the US Pacific Fleet, the oil tanks, and the repair facilities.

After Pearl Harbor

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Commander Mitsuo Fuchida became a national hero in Japan. He was granted an audience with Emperor Hirohito.

Mitsuo Fuchida went on to write about WWII and the Battle of Midway from the Japanese point of view.  His curiosity of Christianity caused him to read the Bible and eventually convert to Christianity. He spent many years in the United States writing and touring before his death in 1976 at the age of 73.

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