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A Pearl Harbor tale awaits its ending

“A Matter of Honor” is now out in paperback


By Ray O’Hanlon

Today is the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

And it’s the first anniversary of a perceived promise that is inextricably linked to that date in infamy, December 7, 1941 – a perceived promise that yet lingers.

A plea from the family of Admiral Husband Kimmel was being reinforced a year ago by a book written by Ireland-based investigative journalists and authors, Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan.

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“A Matter Of Honor, Pearl harbor: Betrayal, Blame, And A Family’s Quest For Justice,” is published by Harper Collins and coincided with the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the U.S. Pacific fleet’s base on the island of Oahu.

Summers and Swan live and work in Cappoquin, County Waterford.

The paperback edition of their book has been released in recent days.

The husband and wife duo previously collaborated on “The Eleventh Day,” an investigation into the 9/11 attacks that was nominated in 2012 for a Pulitzer Prize in the history category.

And it is what Summers and Swan believe is a historical injustice that spurred “A Matter of Honor,” a copy of which was signed by Vice President Joe Biden before he left office.

The vice president wrote “it is” on the inside title page before adding “keep the faith.”

Biden signed the book at the request of one of Admiral Kimmel’s grandsons, Manning.

The Kimmel family has campaigned for decades against what they, and many others, see as the scapegoating of Admiral Kimmel after Pearl Harbor.

Ten days after the attack, Kimmel, a four-star admiral was reduced in rank to a two-star rear admiral.

He subsequently resigned from the Navy but worked in the defense industry during the war in which his naval submariner son, Manning, was reportedly murdered by the Japanese after being taken prisoner.

“A Matter of Honor” puts the admiral’s fate rather more forcefully: “Four-star Admiral Kimmel was relieved of command, accused by a presidential commission of ‘dereliction of duty’ and ‘errors of judgment,’ publicly disgraced, and tricked into retirement.”

The book, pointedly, also rebuts the view of some down the years that President Franklin Roosevelt had advance knowledge of the Japanese attack that would result in his “infamy” declaration to Congress the following day.

Coinciding with the 75th anniversary last year, in the admiral’s hometown of Henderson, Kentucky, 42 members of the Kimmel family gathered to see a statue of Admiral Kimmel unveiled.

Two of his grandsons, the aforementioned Manning, and Thomas Kimmel, wrote President Obama seeking a restoration of four-star rank – a move which was actually requested by Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal 2001.

That act was based on a 1999 non-binding resolution drafted by Joe Biden, who was in the U.S. Senate at the time.

It had bipartisan backing from prominent senators such as Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and Strom Thurmond, and it was voted through by the Senate.

But it never received the necessary presidential signature from Bill Clinton, his successor, George W. Bush or, as it turned out, President Obama, even though he busily wielded his pardon pen in his final hours in the Oval Office.

The Biden resolution, and resulting act, also sought a restoration of rank for Major General Walter Short, who commanded U.S. Army forces on Oahu and was similarly demoted after the December 7 attack.

“There can be no statute of limitations for restoring honor and dignity to men who spent their lives devoted to America’s service and were yet unfairly treated. When it comes to serving justice, the time must always be now,” Biden said in an address to the Senate at the time.

Summers and Swan, together with the Kimmel family and its many supporters, are still that what they see as justice will be done.

“Reads like a thriller … An airtight case that Admiral Kimmel should not have been blamed … Through the extensive use of primary sources, including some previously unavailable, the authors delineate who in the U.S. government and military knew about Japan’s intentions. Tragically, there were dots that American intelligence did not properly connect. Kimmel was scapegoated and slandered without basis.”

So states Publishers Weekly in its review of “A Matter Of Honor.”

After the attack, the disgracing of Kimmel and his resignation, there were calls for him to be jailed, even shot.

Kimmel fought back, however, and testified before four investigations.

When he died in 1968 his sons and others in the family took up the fight against what Joe Biden has dubbed “the greatest injustice in U.S. military history.”

President Trump now has the power to wield the pen on behalf of Admiral Kimmel.

He has been busy with that pen signing into oblivion measures enacted by the Obama administration.

In this instance, Trump could sign into life something that his predecessor ultimately neglected to enact.