“Samurai Surprise” by Gary Beck


I graduated with honor

from Etajma Naval Academy.

In the family tradition

I joined the naval service,

which filled my father with pride.

He was not as happy

when I applied for flight training,

hoping I’d follow in his footsteps

and serve on a battleship,

as his father did before him,

who won great distinction

at Tsushima Strait.


Nothing is better than flying

and in the cockpit of my Zero

I was emperor of the world.

But the only war we had

was in China, far inland

with no role for naval aviation.

How I longed to meet

the Flying Tigers,

become an air ace, win renown.

But it was not to be.

For the first time in my life

I envied the infantry.

At least they were winning glory.


So we trained and trained,

take-offs, landings, dogfighting,

and I was assigned to a squadron

on our best carrier, Akagi.

The topic in the wardroom

was who would we test our skills on.

Then rumors spread through the fleet

of growing tensions with America,

threatening to cut off our oil supply.

When I went home on leave

my father, the admiral,

well aware of my lust for action,

hinted about something in the wind,

but would say no more.


Back on the carrier

training intensified

and we daily practiced

take-offs and landings

with extra fuel tanks on our wings.

Wild rumors spread through the wardroom

that we would attack San Francisco,

but we dismissed that

because it was so far away.

Then we were called to the ready room

and the Air Commander

told us our mission:

we would attack Pearl Harbor

in the Hawaiian Islands.


We went mad with excitement,

some officers waving their swords,

while we all yelled: Banzai.

Once we settled down

the briefing began.

We would launch before dawn,

attack air, ground and naval targets,

especially the carriers.

Fighters would escort

bombers and torpedo planes

in a surprise raid

that would catch them unprepared.


The day finally came.

I bowed to my brothers,

got into my plane,

started the engine,

took off and joined up

with a great air armada

that flew west in the darkness,

a divine wind blowing us

to destroy the enemy.

My heart was pounding with joy

as I dreamed of the P40′s

that I would soon shoot down

when we came out of the rising sun.

our guns showing America

Nippon is a great power.