No one in Japan’s military was responsible for more devastation and humiliation to the United States in the opening months of the Pacific war than Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. His cunning and strategizing, beginning with the Pearl Harbor attack, permitted a sweep across the oceans to achieve a success unlike any the empire had ever known. For almost 6 months, his navy ruled the sea and sky, felling all who tried to interfere with its sizable victories.

His name became a household word in Japan.

Then, came that fateful day of June 4, near a tiny atoll in which sat two specks of islands.


Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

Yamamoto’s gamble to lure the U.S. Navy into one final battle to render it impotent failed in the worst way possible, with its main striking force, 4 aircraft carriers, and all veterans of Pearl Harbor, sent to the bottom. Never had Japan suffered so grave a loss. And at that moment, forevermore would it be trying to stave off defeat, as the U.S. war machine began its slow and bloody march to the shores of the home islands, starting with the Solomon’s campaign in 1942/43.

By now, even though less than a year had passed since Pearl Harbor, Yamamoto knew the odds of Japan rebounding from such an overwhelming advantage of U.S. industrial might was slim to none, though he dared not speak about it. His job was to keep fighting no matter how long the odds and continue planning future operations without realizing that his immense popularity and respect among his people was becoming a double edged sword. For his name often crossed the lips of American war planners from Hawaii to Washington. They respected him, too… And hated him. Because to them he was the architect and reason for a war which America never wanted. Responsible for its greatest insult, a sneak attack, while the two nations were technically still at peace.

For these sins, they prepared a suitable ending for him.

As a result of cracking the Japanese navy code known as JN-25D, U.S. naval intelligence intercepted a message pertaining to the Admiral’s travel plans in April 1943. In it, they learned he would be flying from the island of Rabaul to Balle, part of the Solomon’s chain for an inspection tour on the 18th. The dates, arrival and departure times were analyzed, and information sent up the chain of command and presented to President Roosevelt. After hearing the briefing, His reply was to the point.