Mitsuo Fuchida (3 December 1902 - 30 May 1976) was a Captain in the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service and a combat pilot before and during World War II. He is perhaps best known for leading the first wave attacks on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Fuchida was responsible for the coordination of the entire aerial attack, working under the command of Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo. Fuchida served with distinction until the Battle of Midway in June 1942, after which he was transferred to a staff position for the rest of the war.
After World War II ended with Japan's defeat he became a Christian and considered himself an evangelist until the end of his life. He also became a U.S. resident in 1966, though he never actually became a citizen.
Mitsuo Fuchida in Days of Infamy[edit | edit source]
Mitsuo Fuchida (1902-1943) was a Lieutenant Commander in the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service and a pilot before and during World War II. He headed the formation that led the first wave of attacks on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 that initiated the invasion of Hawaii.
Fuchida was on board the Akagi with Admiral Chuichi Nagumo and commander Minoru Genda. Fuchida was one of the voices pressing for the invasion to go forward. All were relieved when the invasion continued, and Hawaii was subdued.
As air commander, Fuchida was present for many of the important political events that took place during the Japanese occupation. He was present during the formal surrender of U.S. forces by Admiral Husband Kimmel and General Walter Short. He also helped with the selection of a puppet ruler for Hawaii. When Jimmy Doolittle led a raid against Hawaii in March, 1942, Fuchida participated in the retaliatory bombing of San Francisco. Fuchida and his friend Minoru Genda participated in the selection process of the puppet monarch for the reconstituted Kingdom of Hawaii, interviewing Abigail Kawananakoa first. While impressed with her strength of character Fuchida agreed with his fellow officers that she was too independent-minded to suit Japan's interests. Eventually the selection committee settled on Stanley Owana Laanui.
In June 1942, when the Americans made their first attempt to reclaim Hawaii, Fuchida demonstrated his devotion to duty when he led the air strikes against the American carriers. Thanks in no small part to Fuchida's leadership, the Yorktown and Saratoga were sunk and the Hornet crippled, forcing the American invasion fleet to withdraw. During the battle, Fuchida noticed pains in his belly. Upon the battle's conclusion, Fuchida landed his bomber on the flagship Akagi and went directly to sickbay. He was diagnosed with appendicitis. The doctors operated on him quickly, and Fuchida recovered, winning a great deal of admiration from his peers for having fought despite the intense pain.
Throughout 1943, Fuchida was concerned by the increasing brazenness of American air and submarine attacks on Hawaii. He was particularly unnerved when American submarines were able to ambush the newly-repaired Zuikaku and force her to return to Japan once more.
In the summer of 1943, the United States mounted a much larger assault on Hawaii. Fuchida sortied out from Pearl Harbor with the rest of the Japanese fleet to meet the invasion force and participated in the resulting battle.
This engagement heralded the end of Japanese rule in Hawaii, as the Akagi and Shokaku were sunk, and the Japanese supply line, already taxed, was broken completely. Initially confident of another victory over the Americans, Fuchida was dismayed when he actually saw the sheer size of the American fleet and air contingent. He performed his duties ably, and survived the attack on the American fleet, but encountered Joe Crosetti while flying home and was shot down. Fuchida was mourned by his friend, Minoru Genda.
Before his death, Fuchida had considered becoming a Christian.