In the first installment of my own personal “Bucket List” I mentioned the desire to travel with the presidential entourage on Air Force One. Also, that in creating this list of ten achievements I devised a validity test of at least three of five attributes that each quest must satisfy. In the second of the ten items on my list I would like to witness the discovery of the "Kido Butai," the Japanese fighting force of six aircraft carriers of the "Combined Fleet" that attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.
The story of Pearl Harbor and the outcome of the Second World War has been told and in many ways is still unfolding. The hole left in this story, however, is why no effort has been made to find these historical vessels. Their combined and individual exploits under the Imperial Chrysanthemum shown above have likewise been well documented; what is not documented is exactly where each vessel rests.
A National Geographic documentary highlighting the discovery of the USS "Yorktown" included two Japanese survivors of the Battle of Midway who were on board in case “Kaga,” their home carrier was also discovered. I remember most chillingly from the video that a 30,000 ton aircraft carrier would look like a single grain of rice on the radar screen from three miles down! "Kaga" was not found but the emotions felt by these gentlemen once again sailing on the waters of battle were palpable.
It occurred to me from this documentary and also thru time spent in Japan that this is a people deeply in touch with their ancestors and strongly desirous in seeking to ensure those forebears are able to rest peacefully. Four of the six were infamously lost in one day while the last was sunk nearly a year before the final end of the war.
"Akagi," lost at the Battle of Midway by dive bombers, June 4, 1942. 267 men lost
"Kaga," lost at the Battle of Midway by dive bombers, June 4, 1942. 811 men lost.
"Soryu," lost at the Battle of Midway by dive bombers, June 4, 1942. 711 men lost.
"Hiryu," lost at the Battle of Midway by dive bombers, June 4, 1942. 392 men lost.
"Shokaku," lost at the Battle of the Philippine Sea by submarine attack, June 19, 1944. 1, 272 men lost.
"Zuikaku," lost at the Battle of Cape Enganao by torpedoes and bombs, October 25, 1944. 843 men lost.
The "Titanic," "Bismarck" and "Yorktown" were each found and by the same man leading the way, Dr. Robert Ballard. Surely the families of nearly 4,300 men deserve similar closure over 65 years later?