December 10, 2015

Colloquium Speaker: J. Michael Wenger


J. Michael Wenger is a military historian who has conducted research since the 1970s in repositories the world over. He received the 2012 U.S. Naval Institute Author of the Year Award. Wenger is the coauthor of ten books and lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.




Colloquium Topic: No One Avoided Danger: NAS Kaneohe Bay and the Japanese Attack of 7 December 1941

“No One Avoided Danger” is a detailed combat narrative of the 7 December 1941 Japanese attacks on NAS Kāneʻohe Bay, one of two naval air stations on the island of Oʻahu in Hawaii.  Partly because of Kaneohe’s location—15 air miles over a mountain range from the main site of that day’s infamous attack on Pearl Harbor—military historians have largely ignored the station’s story. Moreover, there is an understandable tendency to focus on the massive destruction sustained by the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The attacks on NAS Kaneohe Bay, however, were equally destructive and no less disastrous, notwithstanding the station’s considerable distance from the harbor.

The work focuses on descriptions of actions in the air and on the ground at the deepest practical, personal, and tactical level, from both the American and Japanese perspectives. Such a synthesis is possible only by pursuing every conceivable source of American documents, reminiscences, interviews, and photographs. Similarly, the authors sought out Japanese accounts and photography from the attacks, many appearing in print for the first time. Information from the Japanese air group and aircraft carrier action reports has never before been used.

On the American side, the authors also have researched the Official Military Personnel Files at the National Personnel Records Center and National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri, extracting service photographs and details of the military careers of American officers and men. The authors are among the first historians to be allowed access to previously unused service records. The authors likewise delved into the background and personalities of key Japanese participants, and have translated and incorporated the Japanese aircrew rosters from the attack.

This accumulation of data and information makes possible an intricate and highly integrated story that is unparalleled. The interwoven narratives of both sides provide a deeper understanding of the events near Kāne‘ohe Bay than any previous history.