HISTORICAL NEWS AND COMMENT

Pearl Harbor Survivors Association Honors Kimmel and Short
 

Martin Merson

When Percy Greaves died of cancer on 13 August 1984 -- eleven days short of his 78th birthday- little did he know of the seeds he had planted. No man, to this writer's knowledge, has done more to inspire others to continue along the trail he blazed; a trail beginning with his service as Chief, Minority Staff, of the 1945-1946 Joint Congressional Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack.

Undoubtedly, Percy Greaves, in preparation for the Joint Congressional Investigation -- the last of nine wartime investigations, beginning shortly after 7 December 1941 -- made it a point to familiarize himself with all the material resulting from the ninth as well as each of the preceding investigations: the Frank Knox inquiry at Pearl Harbor of 11-12 December 1941; the Roberts Commission of 18 December 1941 -- 23 January 1942; the special inquiry of Thomas C. Hart of 22 February -- 15 June 1944; the Army Pearl Harbor Board of 20 July 1944 -- 20 October 1944; the Navy Court of Inquiry, 24 July 1944 -- 19 September 1944; the special inquiry of Col. Carter W. Clarke, USA of 14 September 1944 and 13 July 1945 - 4 August 1945; the special inquiry of Maj. Henry C. Clausen, USA of 23 November 1944 -- 12 September 1945; and the special inquiry of Adm. H. Kent Hewitt, USN of 14 May 1945 -- 11 July 1945.

The mastery of some 44 volumes published by the Government Printing Office, covering the material in the nine separate and distinct investigations, was essential to Percy Greaves. These volumes comprise thousands of pages of testimony, taken over hundreds of days, millions of words, and involving virtually every political and military leader of importance in the war effort; mastering this material clearly required herculean exertions. Today's Revisionist heritage of some four decades of research and writing on the subject, reflects, in large part, the dedication which Percy Greaves brought to the task. For this reason, we must acknowledge a very special debt to Percy Greaves, and, without question, a leadership position in the field.

These seeds which Greaves sowed have lately germinated and sprouted in a recent action of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.. PHSA is an organization of both enlisted personnel and officers from the Air Corps, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, Nurses-Army, and Nurses-Navy, and is, today, approximately 10,000 members strong. Every fifth year since its founding, the PHSA has commemorated the fateful Day of Infamy by meeting in Hawaii. In 1986, the men and women of the PHSA marked the 45th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, which killed or wounded over 3,000 of their comrades, many entombed in their ships, with a special meeting in Honolulu. For the first time in the annals of American history, so far as this writer knows, the men and women of PHSA, who participated in full uniform, and who so generously and proudly laid their lives on the line at a time when most were in the flower of their youth, paused to recognize and honor their two wartime commanders, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, U.S. Navy, Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet; and Lt. General Walter C. Short, U.S. Army, Commander, Hawaiian Department. The surviving sons of both Adm. Kimmel and Gen. Short-both with distinguished military careers in their own right -- were presented parchment scrolls embodying resolutions adopted by PHSA, together with specially struck medals. Here it should be noted that Manning, the elder son of Adm. Kimmel, was lost with his submarine while on war patrol in 1944. PHSA further collected monies for an education - scholarship fund on behalf of deserving decendants of Adm. Kimmel and Gen. Short.

Inevitably, it will be asked -- as this writer did of PHSA's president Thomas J. Stockett -- why, after the passage of nearly half century, did you see fit to honor your wartime commanders? A response was forthcoming, in his letter of 12 February 1987, exemplifying the splendid quality to which each of us strives - and so seldom attains:

Every endeavor undertaken by men certainly began with a modicum of faith, hope and expectation for its fruition. Some were excellent, many were good and a few of them weren't worth mentioning.

All of us were young on that terrible morning. It wasn't for us to either condemn or condone the actions of our immediate military leaders. But now, after over 45 years, we have learned to be more tolerant, somewhat wiser, a lot less cynical, and suddenly imbued with a faith and trust toward our fellow man. What a tremendous victory it would be for us, after all these years, to play a role and be able to accept even a small fraction of success toward the complete exoneration and restoration to rank for Adm. Husband E. Kimmel and Gen. Walter C. Short. You have my complete assuance that r will do everything I can to attain this reachable goal.

It is of interest that John Tsukano, a Japanese-American journalist who treated this 45th Anniversary Meeting in the Honolulu Star Bul1etin of 5 December 1986, had this to say, in part.

Why? Why do they continue to subject themselves to relive their private hell, even as their ranks get thinner with the passage of time?

Perhaps the survivors themselves cannot fully answer that eternal and haunting question. Perhaps there are not enough words to accurately describe their trauma, agony and mysteries, which must still be lurking in the deepest recesses of their minds and hearts, compelling them to keep returning to the scene of their greatest sacrifice, forever searching for answers.

Tsukano provides his own answer:

Perhaps still, the answer is as simple as the known fact that each and every human being has a conscience which always demands that truth and justice must be preserved, cherished and protected. This ever present conscience was perhaps the catalyst which prompted the members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Associaffon to unanimously pass a resolution ... (Honolulu Star Bulletin,5 Dec.1986, "The General, the Admiral, and the Pearl Harbor Survivors").

honoring their Wartime Commander, the provisions of which merit careful study by all thoughtful citizens having an interest in the opinions of those who had studied the matter for 45 years, and who, in the process, had pursued, diligently, research leading to their final action.

Notable, too, is the fact that those who are charged with directing government operations in Washington, civilian and military, have failed, as is so very often the case, to set any example whatsoever, by refusing to adopt a course of action calculated to undo a grievous wrong.


The text of the PSHA resolution in honor of Admiral E. Kimmel


From The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1988 (Vol. 8, No. 2), pages 250-253.