Several High-Ranking Officers Were Punished For Predicting The Pearl Harbor Attack
With most generation-defining disasters, we learn after the fact about all the warning signs, and how they were missed or not taken seriously. The attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 was no different. But what is not often talked about was the sheer volume of influential people who tried to convince the U.S. government that they could hear the planes coming.
For example, when Admiral James Richardson pointed at Pearl Harbor naval base as being particularly vulnerable to Japanese attack, you'd have expected people to listen. After all, Richardson was both an expert on the base's defenses and Japanese military strategies, which is a pretty valuable niche to have in this situation. When the country opted to move its fleet to Pearl Harbor in 1940 as a show of force, Richardson shared his worries that it would be seen as an act of aggression, as well as leave the fleet wide open and exposed. He was promptly fired for his concerns, and ten months later was proven right.
U.S. Dept. of the NavyRichardson, seen here giving the closest thing to a middle finger allowed in a congressional investigation.
General William Mitchell was another fellow who predicted Japan would strike, only he had this incredible foresight 17 years before it happened. Hell, Mitchell was so ahead of his time that he died five years before it happened. As a brigadier general in the first World War, Mitchell gained valuable experience in aerial combat, specifically when it came to targeting weak points in fleets and warships. He was especially good at sinking battleships -- which, if you've ever played the game, you know made him a big deal. So when Mitchell went on a military inspection tour of the Pacific in 1924, his own combat experience made him realize something very disastrous could happen if Japan were to ever attack the U.S. As he put it in his report:
Attack will be launched as follows:
Bombardment, attack to be made on Ford Island (in Pearl Harbor) at 7:30 a.m. ... Attack to be made on Clark Field (Philippines) at 10:40 a.m.
However, no one back home was eager to take Mitchell seriously. Because of a string of insubordination accusations, badass William Mitchell had developed a not-so-great reputation with the rest of the brass. In fact, the entire inspection tour had been a sort of forced vacation so that he couldn't make any waves back home. So it's easy to imagine all the masturbatory gestures his superiors made when Mitchell returned from his exile with a 324-page document about the martial danger some islands half a world away could pose.
National Archives and Records AdministrationProbably a lot less jerk-off miming by 1942.