Last base, three years with the 1962nd Communications Group, Kadena AFB, Okinawa, Japan, where my number two son was born. Staff Sergeant, the only (as I say) title I ever cared for, and electronic cryptographic tech.
It is well we who have severed, especially before the military started on the Path of Pozzing, to keep up with each other.
Morrissey didn’t think the CGI overblown, but you can’t tell that by the trailer, in which the computers that did the work look like they must have overheated and had anxiety attacks. Every escape is hair breadth. Physics is suspended. Planes at high speed thread between palm trees. between palm trees! Explosions look like Christmas.
Maybe that’s my take because I don’t go to movies and don’t know well how these graphics progress. These kinds of cartoony effects may seem perfectly natural by now. My kind of effects, because they had to be made with real metal and gasoline, was in Tora! Tora! Tora!, which if you haven’t seen, you must. (My wife loves to sit by my side as I narrate that movie, saying, in great detail, which parts are correct, and which not.)
I wonder how accurate Midway will be. Midway, the real battle, for those who know its history, was a mess. It was a near-run thing, with the Japanese almost coming out on top, or making good their escape.
Still, it was won, and as every historian agrees, it broke Japan’s back. The rest of the war was mainly defensive for them, trying and failing to hold their early gains.
Skip all that.
What got me juiced was the news that a figure I have long admired will be a focus in the film. Edwin T. Layton, the naval intelligence officer and cryptographer (yes) who not only tried to warn the powers that be about Peal Harbor, but who was also instrumental at Midway and at other parts of the Pacific War.
The book to read is And I Was There: Breaking the Secrets – Pearl Harbor and Midway. If you have any interest in the Pacific War, this is a necessary book. A fascinating tour of the cryptographic and radio techniques of the day, but more of the internecine naval politics that almost sunk the Pacific fleet.
Layton argues persuasively that Pearl Harbor was not a conspiracy. Meaning the attack really was a shock to the arrogant brass, though not to him. FDR and the hierarchy did try to goad Japan into hitting first, and an attack was suspected and desired, but at Singapore or the PI or or somewhere else, not at Pearl.
Two more must-reads are Hiroyuki Agawa’s The Reluctant Admiral: Yamamoto and the Imperial Navy and John Toland’s The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945, the first volume of the latter a vivid and gripping account of the bitter Army-Navy politics in Japan.
Now Layton spoke Japanese, and even knew the American-trained Yamamoto. He had been able to read the Japanese Purple Code, which the Washington brass infamously failed to parlay into anything useful.
After Pearl, heads had to roll. The King brothers, Admirals at the top in Washington, had Layton’s many warning dispatches, which had to be explained away. So Layton was minimized. They associated Layton with his friend and colleague and code breaker Joseph Rochefort, who was rumored to be not quite right in the head, and therefore his work was not to be trusted, because he wandered around his office in a bathrobe and slippers.
These charges were true. But what the propaganda pushers failed to note was that Rochefort worked in a room that was highly air conditioned, the early computer-machines needing the frigid air to avoid overheating. It was either the bathrobe or freeze to death. He worked tirelessly, forgoing, at times, shaving and showering. Which, of course, many men do at war.
Both Rochefort and Layton escaped from Pearl, however, after an official victim was designated. Pearl Harbor commander Husband Kimmel’s head was figuratively lopped off (Kimmel’s book is also excellent; good luck finding a copy; and it is natural defeated commanders lose their job, even if their losses aren’t their fault, future morale being of prime importance).
The best part for both Rochefort and Layton was still to come, at Midway. They again pegged the correct location, whereas others were thinking the next Japanese attack would be Port Moresby or even Alaska, they figured on Midway.
How did they know Midway? Somebody got the idea to broadcast in the clear that Midway, a dinky island, was running low on water (broken desalination machines), and Layton told Chester Nimitz about it. The broadcast was made, picked up by Japan, who then told of the water “emergency” in their encrypted broadcasts about their next target.
I’m sure that clever bit must have made it into the movie. If anybody has seen it, let us know.
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