The Journey of Two Enemy Airmen From Pearl Harbor to Salvation

by John Stonestreet & Ann Morse

Today, we remember that “day of infamy” that launched the United States into a world war. But it also launched two young airmen on a path to forgiveness and salvation.

Seventy-seven years ago today, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on a U.S. naval base in Hawaii called Pearl Harbor. The next day, President Roosevelt addressed Congress and a shocked nation:

< Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy. The United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the empire of Japan.” >

Pearl Harbor was for the Greatest Generation what September 11 is for ours: a national memory. Today, as we remember and honor those who served, I also want to tell you a Pearl Harbor story about two men who exchanged hatred for their enemies for a love and friendship.

Japanese naval Captain Mitsuo Fuchida planned and led the deadly air attack on Pearl Harbor. Astonishingly, although his plane was hit 21 times by anti-aircraft fire, Fuchida was able to return to his carrier.

In fact, he escaped death several times during the war. On August 5, 1945, he was attending a military conference in Hiroshima when he was ordered to report to Tokyo. The very next day, the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Fuchida became part of a team sent back to Hiroshima to assess the damage. Every single member of that team died of radiation poisoning—except Fuchida.

After the war, General Douglas MacArthur ordered Fuchida to testify during war trials in Tokyo. Fuchida took a cynical view towards the trials because he believed that Americans—like the Japanese—had committed atrocities against their captives. But his former flight engineer, who had been a prisoner of war, told Fuchida that the Americans had treated him humanely. Even more, he learned of a woman who had ministered lovingly to Japanese prisoners: Peggy Covell.

Covell’s parents had been missionaries to Japan and were captured and killed by Japanese soldiers in 1943. Before the Japanese beheaded them, the Covells asked for 30 minutes in which to pray—in part, their daughter believed, for God to forgive those who were about to execute them.

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Source: Christian Headlines