On April 4, 1884, Isoroku Takano was born as the sixth son of a school principal. The newborn Isoroku was put up for adoption. Shortly afterwards, the future commander of the powerful Japanese Combined Fleet was adopted into the Yamamoto family.
After Isoroku Yamamoto graduated from the Japanese naval academy to fight in the Russo-Japanese War as an ensign. Ensign Yamamoto was wounded during the battle of Tsushima in 1905 by a Russian shell that hit the flagship Mikasa, which he was on.
In 1919, Isoroku Yamamoto left Japan to study at Harvard University in the United States. He would remain there until later in 1921.
After graduating from Harvard, Yamamoto was appointed to be the naval attaché to the embassy in Washington, D.C. He would remain there for the next could of years, until 1936, when Yamamoto would become the vice-minister for the Japanese Navy. Five years later, in 1941, Isoroku Yamamoto became the Commander in Chief of all naval forces.
On December 7, 1941, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s plan for attacking Pearl Harbor was put into effect, despite his objections. A Japanese task force launched over 350 fighters, bombers, and torpedo aircraft successfully attacked the naval air station and surrounding military installations, losing less than 20 aircraft and 5 midget submarines in the attack, and inflicting overwhelming damage on the naval vessels docked in the harbor.
Admiral Yamamoto also realized that a decisive battle would be needed to win the war for Japan, and after Doolittle’s Raid on Tokyo, advanced the plans for Midway. He established a massive force which consisted of over 130 Japanese ships to combat the United States naval operations in the Pacific. However, after the loss of the battle, Yamamoto told his council that he didn’t want anyone blaming the loss on the submarine force or the navy, because the loss was Yamamoto’s fault, and his alone.
While during the Solomon Islands campaign, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s Betty bomber was ambushed by a squadron of P-38 Lightning fighter aircraft over Bougainville. These aircraft were sent after intercepiting a Japanese coded transmission which revealed that Yamamoto would be on an inspection tour of forward air bases. All aboard the two Betty bombers were killed.
Admiral Yamamoto’s death was a tragic blow to Japanese morale. Many commanders felt that they had lost Japan’s greatest naval strategist, a realization to which several commanders would never recover from.
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