December 7, 1941, was a seemingly ordinary Sunday within the hallowed chambers of the White House residence. After attending the only meeting of the day with the Chinese ambassador, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made some time for recreation, working on his beloved stamp collection accompanied by his trusted aide, Harry Hopkins.
Suddenly the phone on the President’s desk blasted with a shrill and cold ring. Navy Secretary Frank Knox’s voice trembled through the line, his words carrying the weight of an unspeakable disaster — Japanese aircraft were attacking Pearl Harbor.
“No!” Roosevelt reportedly roared, alarmed as Hopkins jumped to his feet, startled by the unexpected situation. The President’s advisor tried to reassure the leader by saying that it must have been a mistake. Japan would never attack the US.
But the seasoned head of state knew better; he said this was just the kind of unexpected move the Japanese would make. FDR was scared, angry, and bewildered; still, he managed to channel all his emotions into pure resolve: America would make Japan rue the day they attacked the US.
The United States Government decided it would exact a specific and singular retribution upon the mastermind who orchestrated the devastating strike.
Thus began a tense years-long pursuit to trace the footprints of the enigmatic Japanese Marshal Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto as he moved across the Pacific Theater. As the US closed in on him, Yamamoto seemed to suspect the gravity of his actions and the consequences they could bring. He would famously say: “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
In April of 1943, the codebreakers of the enigmatic “Magic” intelligence program finally pierced through a series of secure Japanese broadcasts, intercepting the itinerary of the cunning Yamamoto. With their target in sight, the US intelligence apparatus launched Operation Vengeance with the help of Japanese American allies.
It is said that FDR, himself, issued the iconic command, “Get Yamamoto.” At the sound of his orders, a squadron of P-38 Lightnings took to the skies, ready to hunt down the man who had dared stir the wrath of the mighty United States of America…