Lieutenant Saburo Shindo (August 28, 1911 - February 2, 2000) was a Japanese naval fighter pilot, serving during the Second Sino-Japanese War from its beginning in 1937. He was one of the squadron leaders in the initial attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, which brought the United States into World War II. Shindo is credited with sending the infamous "Tora, Tora, Tora" message, indicating that the surprise attack was a success.
Shindo continued to rise through the ranks, participating in several battles in the Pacific theater. After the war, he settled in Hiroshima, briefly managing a mine. In 1952, he went to work as a manager for automobile manufacturer Toyo Kogkyo, (the company that became Mazda). He retired from the company in 1979. He died at his home on February 2, 2000.
Saburo Shindo in Days of Infamy
Saburo Shindo (1911-1943) was a Japanese Zero pilot who participated in the Japanese invasion of Hawaii from 1941-1942. He was instrumental in convincing Chuichi Nagumo to continue with the invasion on December 7, 1941. Shortly after Shindo led the strike force against the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, overseeing its sinking.
After the conquest of Hawaii, Shindo's squadron was stationed at Haleiwa airstrip on northern Oahu as part of the Japanese Navy's force defending the islands. He participated in the battle against the USA's first attempt to retake Hawaii in 1942, shooting down several Wildcats. However, after this success, Shindo found himself frustrated by the more underhanded tactics employed by the U.S., including night-raids and submarine attacks. He was able to sink one American sub in 1943, one of the few Japanese pilots to do so.
In summer of 1943, Shindo engaged the invading U.S. force intent on retaking the islands. He was astonished by the vast improvement the new American Hellcat fighters were over the old Wildcats; unlike many of his fellow Zero pilots, he survived this shock and even managed to score some kills. Despite his own success, Shindo was forced to retreat when both of the Japanese aircraft carriers were sunk. He barely made it back to Haleiwa airstrip, his plane damaged but still usable.
He continued to fly missions from whatever land airstrip was available and undamaged. He and the surviving Japanese flyers attacked the U.S. Marine landings on the northern beaches but were unsuccessful in driving them off. To Shindo's mortification, his Zero was destroyed on the ground by attacking American aircraft.
He was unable to get back in the air until mechanics scrounged together a makeshift Zero. As the only pilot still fit to fly, Shindo was allowed to take the Zero up on his last mission. Being resigned to death from the moment he took off, Shindo was arguably Japan's first kamikaze pilot. He was able to shoot down one Wildcat, and drop a bomb on the American escort carrier Copahee. No sooner had he done this than his engine quit. Shindo flew his plane directly into the flight deck of the next aircraft carrier on his flight path, the Bunker Hill, while screaming "Banzai!".