December 2, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES IV • Page 21 1941, and showed up at Wheeler Field in Hawaii. Stationed nearby was Lieutenant Philip Rasmussen. Rasmussen was also a young man who wanted for fly and saw the Army Air Corps as the way to do it. All of them knew, of course, that a war with Japan was probable. There had been two full alerts and the newspapers in Honolulu and elsewhere had been running war-scare stories on their front pages for the previous week, but most senior officers expected that the first blow, when it came, would fall on the Philippines, far closer to Japan. Taylor and Welch spent the night of Dec. 6, 1941 at an early Christmas party at a Waikiki hotel. Tuxedos were mandatory. They followed up the dance with a poker game that continued until 6:30 a.m. Rasmussen elected to turn in early, wearing purple pajamas. At 7:55 a.m., uninvited guests arrived. A Korean patriot named Kilsoo Haan and a German-Yugoslav anti-Nazi double agent, Dusko Popov, had separately told the FBI and the White House months before the attack to expect a Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor on the first weekend in December. Negotiations had broken down on Nov. 26, when U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull presented the Japanese with an ultimatum drafted by Harry Dexter White, later revealed as a Soviet agent, that everyone in Washington knew would be unacceptable. Decoded messages to the Japanese consulate in Honolulu – admittedly, a nest of spies – had told the diplomatic personnel to break up their decoding machine and burn their records. Nobody bothered to tell the Army or the Navy. When the decoded Japanese messages clearly indicated an attack was immanent, the message was sent by Western Union instead of by telephone. A Japanese-American kid on a bicycle delivered the telegram as the Japanese planes were leaving. Taylor, Welch, and Rasmussen were asleep when bombs began to fall. Rasmussen strapped a .45 automatic over his purple pajamas, stepped outside the barracks, and took a few potshots at the Japanese airplanes that were shooting up the parked fighter planes on the landing strip. The stateof-the-art P-40s were mostly blown up. Rasmussen and a couple of his buddies spotted some P36 Hawk fighters, taxied them over to the revetments, and had the ground crews fuel them and load their guns. Rasmussen and three other Army pilots took off. They engaged 11 Japanese aircraft. Rasmussen admitted that his .30-caliber machine gun was jammed and wouldn’t fire. His 50-caliber machine gun went off by itself, a Japanese A-6 Zero fighter flew in front of him, and Rasmussen shot down a Zero that blundered into his field of fire by accident. Another Zero tried to ram his P-36 and missed. One of the other pilots, Gordon H. Sterling, who reportedly got a Japanese plane, crashed and drowned within sight of land. Anti-aircraft fire from the American ships that overshot the Japanese attackers killed 44 American civilians. Rasmussen landed with about 500 holes in his aircraft. Two cannon shells in the radio could have killed him if his luck had been bad. His landing was a virtual crash with no rudder control and no tail wheel functioning. Taylor and Welch took one look at Wheeler Field and knew they would not be able to get off the ground. They telephoned ahead of Haliewa Field 10 miles away, told the ground crews to gas up and arm a couple of P-40 fighter planes, and took of in a Buick convertible. When they got to Haliewa, they took off, flew into a group of Japanese Nakajima “Kate” bombers and started shooting. Taylor got two Kates and damaged two more. Welch knocked off an A-6 Zero fighter that tried to interfere. Taylor was hit by a Japanese tail-gunner. After he and Welch refueled, they went up again, disobeying orders in doing so. In all, anywhere from eight to 14 American fighter pilots got off the ground at Pearl Harbor, and they accounted for 10 of the 29 Japanese planes shot down in the most one-sided catastrophe in American military history. Taylor, Welch, and Rasmussen, by themselves, got at least half the total, and Taylor alone got a quarter of them all by himself. Taylor was called in as an expert when the joint Japanese-American movie team produced “Tora, Tora, Tora,” (1970) the most accurate and objective movie about the “sneak attack.” The Japanese honored Taylor and Welch for their skill and courage. The dogfight in which Taylor and Welch took on the entire Japanese air armada by themselves is an intrinsic part of the movie. Taylor later met a Japanese pilot who had flown with the first wave at Pearl Harbor. “I have no hatred against Japanese people, but I do against those who started the war,” Taylor said. He didn’t elaborate, but by the time he spoke it was general knowledge that Pearl Harbor was mutual fault. The key cause was the problems of the Soviet Union once the Hitler-Stalin Pact collapsed. The tragic irony is that the U.S. war with Japan cut off the escape of refugees from Hitler. The people running Washington cared more about British and Chinese pressure groups than they did about American servicemen in Hawaii and the Philippines. They not only led the United States into a needless war with Japan, but also deprived those Americans most at risk of the knowledge they needed to defend themselves. The 2,400 dead of Pearl Harbor and the 20,000-man Luzon Army, along with the drowned sailors of the Asiatic Fleet and the Marines on Wake Island and Guam, paid the price for sustaining politicians who knuckled under to special-interest groups and forgot about American kids who were hostages to fate because the people who were running things forgot about them and about the real interests of America. Taylor was not asked for his advice on “Pearl Harbor” (2001), an exercise in Japan-bashing where the Japanese – who at that time were devoted to the works of Franz Schubert and Johann Strauss – were essentially shown as savages fond of tom-tom drumming. Taylor referred to this film as a piece of trash that was over-sensationalized and distorted. Taylor, Welch, and Rasmussen, all since deceased, deserve their memorial. They have it at the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island in Hawaii. Anyone who cares about American history should consider a donation to this museum. I would never endorse a bash on Japan – my wife was a child survivor of American air raids on Tokyo -- but I wholeheartedly endorse a donation to preserve the memory of brave young Americans who were at Pearl Harbor (and elsewhere) when we needed them. Three of the first American heroes of World War II – men we should remember today and forever – were Taylor, Welch, Schwartz and Rasmussen. Why are there three heroes with four names? Welch and Schwartz were the same man. Why remember? America cannot do without men like them. Welch and Schwartz were the same person because of a dark era in American history. George Schwartz was born in May 1918, a year and a month after the United States declared war on Germany. The Wilson administration, which had already shrugged off racist mistreatment of black people, launched a campaign to convince the gullible American public that evil had been invented in Germany. New Jersey had a factual toehold in this perspective: A German agent named Curt Thummel, aided by Irishmen who did not like Great Britain very much either, had touched off an explosion at Black Tom Island in New York Harbor. Ammunition intended for Britain and France blew up in New Jersey and broke windows all over New York City and Hoboken. Six policemen were killed. Thummel blew up another ammunition plant before he beat it out of the states. Hitler later admitted that Thummel had caused the explosion and wrote the United States a multi-million dollar check. Nobody knew Thummel was guilty in 1917, so the case against all things German had to be fabricated. The Germans were accused of the Rape of Belgium during which there were a number of hostage shootings that killed the innocent along with the guilty. This was dressed up by the British with fabricated stories of raped nuns and babies with their hands cut off. The pre-Hitler Germans, who had won 50 Nobel prizes, had protested Belgian atrocities in the Congo Free State along with the Americans and the British, and had Jews in their wartime cabinet and many Jews, including Anne Frank’s father, in their officer corps, were demonized by Anglo-American propaganda. Shortly, the Germans were being blamed for inventing rubella, “German measles,” to cripple American babies. By the end of the war, the Germans were being blamed for the influenza epidemic that killed millions worldwide. In Illinois, a German-American who smiled too broadly when he flunked his pre-induction physical was denounced as a “traitor” by a bunch of ruffians in his hometown and tortured and hanged from a railroad trestle. His parents buried him wrapped in an American flag. Store windows with German names were broken, the German language was dropped from schools’ curricula, and actors and actresses in Hollywood changed their names. So did George Schwartz, who became George Welch. Welch was a bright, adventurous boy who yearned to fly. He finished three years of a mechanical engineering degree, then joined the United States Army Air Force, completed pilot training, and became a second lieutenant and an Army aviator in January 1941. One of his buddies was Ken Taylor from Oklahoma, who had spent two years at the University of Oklahoma before he joined the Army Air Corps, completed pilot training in Taylor, Welch, Schwartz, Rasmussen 3 American heroes of Pearl Harbor Fun in the autumn sun Two year old Logan Ryan recently participated in Fall Fun Day in Mahwah.