WASHINGTON: The families of two WWII commanders scapegoated for
Japan's ambush of Pearl Harbor 60 years ago are capitalizing on the
release of Disney's new film to help clear the names of their loved
Following the attack on December 7, 1941, a special commission appointed
by then-president Franklin D. Roosevelt found Lt. Gen. Walter Short and
Adm. Husband Kimmel responsible for the ambush, which killed 19,000
Both left the service several years later in disgrace, denied the
benefits and honor of full retirement at the highest rank served during
war time - a benefit enjoyed by all US servicemen at the time.
But as the movie Pearl Harbor shows, said Sam Waltz of PR firm Sam Waltz
Associates, Kimmel and Short were in fact "set up" by Washington to take
the fall for the attack. Waltz's agency has been pushing for vindication
on behalf of the men's families since 1998. "As the movie shows,
Washington had intercepted intelligence that was never relayed to the
men in Hawaii," noted Waltz, a former national head of the PRSA. "As a
result, they were not prepared."
Many historians believe that FDR allowed the attack on Pearl Harbor to
occur to stimulate domestic support for entering the war, Waltz
The ultimate goal of the families' endeavor is to have the president
posthumously promote both men to their wartime ranks and acknowledge
their innocence. Since 1998, Congress has twice passed resolutions
asking the president to do so, but so far the White House has not taken
up the issue.
The release of Pearl Harbor offers another chance, said Waltz. "This
movie is helping raise public literacy about the issue," he said. "We're
building on that by generating not only publicity and awareness but
requests to the White House by the media for their response - for them
to do the right thing."
Coverage of the issue last week included an 18-minute segment on MSNBC's
The News With Brian Williams, as well as a two-hour documentary on the
network. Both Inside Edition and ABC News had plans as of midweek to
tape segments in the home of the Kimmel family.
"Our goal all along has been to use the media as our advocates in
Congress and with the White House," said Waltz. "This movie has become
one more landmark event that we can build on to further our cause."
Scapegoats: A Defense of Kimmel and Short at Pearl Harbor, published by
the naval historian (USN Ret.) Capt. Edward 'Ned' Beach, also documents
the case of the commanders.