Forty-five years after U.S. fighter pilots shot down the man who planned the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, eight American survivors of the mission and one Japanese pilot gathered Saturday.
Historians said that secret mission changed the course of World War II in the Pacific.The two-day symposium and reunion were scheduled here because it is the home of Adm. Chester Nimitz, who approved the April 18, 1943, attack on a plane carrying Japanese Adm. Jukito Yamamoto over the Solomon Islands.
Yamamoto planned the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
The lone Japanese attending the meeting was former Zero pilot Kenji Yanagiya.
Capt. Roger Pineau, a retired Navy intelligence officer, was one of several historians and philosophers who discussed the effects of Yamamoto's death on the war.
"In addition to the strategic and tactical effects of the shoot down of Yamamoto, it was a fantastic morale blow to the Japanese people," Pineau said.
"There was mourning in Japan after the announcement of his death like is seldom seem except for emperors. He was highly thought of," Pineau said.
Fredericksburg is home to the Nimitz Museum, and numerous items that once belonged to Yamamoto were unveiled in a new exhibit Saturday.
The items were loaned to the museum by Bernard Brannon of Kansas City, Mo., whose brother, John Brannon, acquired them after World War II.
John Brannon, who died last year, was an attorney who defended Japanese naval officers charged with war crimes. In return for his services, the Japanese officers gave Brannon some of Yamamoto's mementoes, said Bruce Smith, superintendent of the Admiral Nimitz State Historical Park.
The exhibit includes swords Yamamoto gave to his men with the inscription: "The fate of Japan's future depends on the outcome of this war."