The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

MARCH  2007

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.






Death Finds Admiral "5-10-6"

Bizarre, Fascinating, and Wacky World War I & ll Secrets.

by Cecil Owen

Out of the bright sunlight came four swift bolts of lightening. However, this was four man-made bolts of lightening, in a steep dive, traveling at least 450 mph. These were four American P38J "Lightening" long range fighter planes, One of the best American fighter planes of World War ll. And this was a "killer squadron" on a top secret mission. The pilots are Lt. Ray Hine, Lt. Besby Holmes, Lt. Rex Barber, and Captain Tom Lamphier. They have just completed a 494 mile flight, one of the longest for an American fighter plane.

Looming up in their gunsights are two brand new Japanese Mitsubishi G4M2E Model 24J "Betty" bombers that are being escorted by seven of Japan's best fighter planes, the Mitsubishi A6M2 Model 21 Zero. "Betty" bomber #326 carries Vice Admiral Matomi Ugaki, four staff members, and a crew of seven. While "Betty" bomber #323 carried three staff members, and a crew of seven. And the pilot is the "Big Prize" that the "Killer Squadron" were after. He is Commander in Chief of the entire Imperial Japanese Navy, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. (He was the brilliant strategist who planned the Pearl Harbor attack).

"Betty" bomber # 323 seemed to shudder and rear up as .50 caliber machine gun bullets and 20mm cannon shells hit both engines. Then they travel the whole length of the fuselage. Now the Japanese plane is on fire as it nosed over... then it crashed into the dense jungle.

Cecil Owen

The fuselage is torn into two sections by the crash. There are no survivors, everyone on board is killed by the impact. Some of the bodies are so badly burned that it was almost impossible to identify the charred remains. But one man was thrown clear of the wreckage and landed against a palm tree. It is the pilot, and he is still strapped into his seat. As he was beyond the burnt area of the crash, he is untouched by flames. It is obvious that he died instantly, as one bullet hit his lower jaw and another hit just below the left shoulder blade. His back is toward the plane, with his head tilted forward as if just asleep. The chest is covered with honor ribbons and service medals. His left hand still held onto a Samurai sword hanging by his side. Two fingers on the left glove are tied back, as the index and second fingers were missing. This positively identified the dead man as Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto.

Some members of the search party refused to believe that it was his body for he always took pride in wearing his sparkling white dress uniform while this man was wearing a light green jungle uniform. But his familiar daily diary was found in the right breast pocket. Truly then, this was the Japanese warrior who had boasted, " I am looking forward to dictating peace to the United States, in the White House in Washington."

Indeed, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was a very remarkable

person. He was the biggest and most popular national war hero of the entire Japanese nation during World War ll. He had just celebrated his 60th birthday on April 4th, 1943. Isoroku did this by writing a poem and sending it to his mistress, a Geisha girl named Chiyoko Kawai. He claimed to be in love with her. Isoroku and his wife had drifted

slowly apart. And according to Japanese customs, it was her task to raise their two sons, Yoshimasa and Tadao, and two daughters, Sumiko and Masako.

His whole life had always been devoted to the Imperial Japanese Navy. When Isoroku was only 17 years of age, he entered the Japanese Naval Academy at Eta Jima at Hiroshima. Then three years later he graduated with high honors.

Isoroku's father and mother were Sadayoshi and Mineko Takano. His father named him Iso-ro-ku, these are the

numbers 5-10-6 in English. Both parents were up in age and those numbers were special to them.

He was not called by his real name Isoroku Takano. When he was 32 years old his life changed very drastically. His father and mother were both dead and he had five older  brothers to carry on the Takano family name. Now there is a peculiar custom in Japan that allows you to adopt another surname if a Japanese family has only daughters, one of them can marry only if the new husband will adopt the family name. The Yamamoto family was searching for a young man, so Isoroku Takano became Lieutenant Commander Isoroku Yamamoto.

In 1904 Japan declared war on Russia. On May 26, 1905, Ensign Isoroku Yamamoto was watch and gunnery officer on board the new Japanese cruiser Nisshin. An enemy shell exploded just below his battle station, causing him to lose a

chunk of one thigh. His whole body was peppered with small metal fragments and Ensign Yamamoto also lost the index and second fingers of his left hand.

He had an astonishing career, at the time of his death he had been in the Navy 43 years. His positions were many and varied. Beginning as a lowly Ensign and ending as Commander in Chief of the entire Japanese Navy. Isoroku was sent to America to study the customs and language. He studied at Harvard University for three years.

He had an American hero that he admired very much ...President Abraham Lincoln.

For four years he was stationed as a Naval Attaché in Washington D.C. at the Japanese Embassy. During part of this time, General William Mitchell, U.S. Army Air Corps was convinced that an airplane could sink a battleship. Everyone laughed, and many admirals were infuriated with his theory. But on July 18, 1921, six Army bombers loaded with 600 lb. bombs, sank the captured German cruiser Frankfurt in just 35 minutes. No other nation grasped the significance of this demonstration except Japan, and especially Captain Yamamoto. He was convinced that war planes from aircraft carriers would obtain victory in a war, not battleships.

Yamamoto was appointed director of technical division of Japanese Navy Aeronauts Dept. This gave him the chance to develop the techniques of operating war planes off aircraft carriers. He was mainly responsible for developing the famous Mitsubishi Zero fighter.

Isoroku liked to smoke Havana cigars, but he did not drink hard liquor of any kind. He ate only two meals a day, breakfast and supper. He was very athlete and loved gymnastics, often doing handstands on fence rails or even ship rails.

Admiral Yamamoto and his seven staff members planned to take off from the air base in Rabaul, located on New Britain Island. They were flying to the Japanese air base in Buin, located on Bougainville Island. The takeoff time and the time of arrival was broadcast ahead in code. Everything and everybody would be ready for the Admiral's important visit, he planned to give the troops a "pep talk" to cheer them up, because the war was not going well for them. Admiral Yamamoto had already spoken to front-line troops on several other islands. He was always on time, for he could not be even a minute late. However, U.S. Naval Intelligence at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii intercepted the message and decoded it. The Japanese did not know that we had broken their secret code. At Henderson air base, located on the island of Guadalcanal, the word came out loud and clear. Get Yamamoto at all costs, he must be annihilated. (All of these islands mentioned are part of the Solomon Islands.)

The flight to Bougainville was so long that only the P38J Lightening fighter plane was capable of flying that far. And not one but two extra fuel tanks were hung beneath their wings for the extra long trip.

One pilot of the "Killer Squadron" never returned, Lt. Ray Hine. No trace of him or his plane was ever found. While Captain Tom Lamphier and Lt. Rex Barber both claimed credit for shooting down Admiral Yamamoto! (No one will ever know for sure.) 

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was cremated there in the jungle where he perished. But he was so important that he had two funerals and was buried in two places. Half of his ashes were buried in the Tama cemetery in Tokyo, Japan. The other half of  his ashes buried in his home town Nagaoka cemetery.

Yamamoto: The Man Who Planned Pearl Harbor  -- Edwin P. Hoyt.
Lightening Strike: The Secret Mission -- Donald A. Davis