ADMIRAL'S WARNINGS UNHEEDED
By Skipper Steely
A Story of James Otto Richardson
In the northwest portion of Paris, Texas, sits a two
story late 1870s home listing drastically to the west.
The roof leaks and its days are numbered. Few in
the town of 24,000 realize it once housed a county
school superintendent, his second wife who was
also a teacher, and their children. J.J. Richardson
had a mixed bag at his home in Paris. After he lost
his first wife in 1879, four years later he married his
late brother's second wife who had raised two
step-children in nearby Ladonia. Together J.J. and
Susan Richardson were watching future greatness
develop though all the parents would die long
before that news hit the stands.
A nephew, Wilds Preston Richardson, left his
northeast Texas home in 1880 at age 18 to attend
the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Later, as a captain he had completed duty in the
western United States and was a West Point
tactical officer about the time his young cousin,
James Otto Richardson, left Paris in 1898 to enter
the Naval Academy at Annapolis. Even though J.J.
Richardson had seen the success of his nephew,
he warned his own son that it would be hard to
compete with northern "fellows," that it seemed
the Texas sun baked the brains of its native sons!
But, in their own way each of the young
Richardson men struck massive marks upon history
that still bring about conversation.
W.P. Richardson was assigned to Alaska in 1897
and during the next 20 years designed and led the
construction of highways. Today the Richardson
Trail from Valdez to Fairbanks reminds travelers and
residents of his work. He was bull-headed and
determined at his line of expertise, very often
gaining the anger of the Alaskan delegate to
Congress. Colonel Richardson was assigned in 1917
as commander of the 39th Division, which saw brief
action in France. General J.J. Pershing then
assigned newly promoted General Richardson to
command forces in the short-lived invasion of
northern Russia. He retired to Washington, D.C. in
1920 after 36 years of active service, and died
seven years later.
By that time J.O. Richardson, who fooled his
father by graduating fifth in his Naval Academy
class, had served 25 active years in the Navy, most
being in the Asiatic Station roaming the seas. That
first year, 1902, Richardson was on the gunboat
Quiros, which had no electricity nor radio, when he
first saw the Pearl Harbor location. The 719 acre,
$58 million facility was in the initial construction
In 1909 he returned to Annapolis for two years
study in mechanical engineering. In 1914 Lt.
Richardson was assigned to the Bureau of Steam
Engineering as an aide to the chief. During this tour
he met an assistant to the Secretary of the Navy
named Franklin D. Roosevelt. He gained a pretty
solid idea of how to handle this up and coming
future politician and received experience
appearing before Congressional committees, a
duty his cousin performed many times.
During World War I Richardson did his only duty
in the Atlantic, serving aboard the U.S.S. Nevada.
He reported there as a lieutenant commander,
visiting Scotland and Ireland but at the war's end
he returned to Annapolis as head of the
Department of Steam Engineering at the Naval
Before 1928 Richardson served in the South
China Sea patrol and as the commander of the
gunboat Asheville. He bounced back to
Washington as chief of the Bureau of Ordnance
but soon returned to sea.
At the age of 50, when most now contemplate
retirement, Captain Richardson was director of
personnel for the Bureau of Navigation, still hoping
to return to sea duty. He did that in 1931 as
commander of the heavy cruiser Augusta. This
ship's first four commanders later wore a total of 15
In mid-1933 Richardson attended the Naval War
College at Newport, Rhode Island and by the next
summer was assigned to the budget office in
Washington where by now he had a permanent
home in Georgetown. In December of 1934 he was
promoted to rear admiral.
Richardson was assigned to the Pacific Coast In
June of 1935 where he commanded the cruiser
division out of Bremerton, Washington. He was then
ordered to work for Joseph M. "Bull" Reeves in
charge of 38 destroyers. His experience was wide
and extensive by now.
Again the call came to move back to
Washington where he would assist the Chief Naval
Officer William D. Leahy. Richardson married a
Paris sweetheart, May Dickens Fenet, and by the
mid-thirties their Princeton graduate son was into a
screen writing career in California. Unlike his mobile
father, Joe Richardson would live in the same area,
Beverly Hills, for almost an entire lifetime. He
scripted many of the Lone Ranger episodes for
Metro-Goldwin-Mayer. The Admiral's
granddaughter lives in the home today.
As president, in early 1938 Roosevelt appointed
Richardson as chief of the Bureau of Navigation.
Richardson, called "Jo" by FDR, tried to beg off the
assignment. That was not to be granted by the
president. The two developed a close relationship,
though Richardson was not fond of the about face
changes the president would make on decisions.
The duty at sea tugged again. This may have
been after he clashed with a Congressman over
an autographed photo of King George VI hanging
on the Richardson office wall. The Admiral had
been assigned as an aide to the King and Queen
of Great Britain when they visited the United States
in 1939. The King later sent Richardson the framed
photo as a personal gift but the Congressman saw
otherwise! He viewed it as an illegal political gift.
The flak eventually drifted on by, however.
Richardson became commander in chief of the
U.S. Fleet [CinCUS] in June of 1939. A ceremony
was held at San Pedro, California. The third Texan
to fit into the job during the previous ten years, he
took over from Admiral Claude Charles Bloch and
had George C. Dyer assigned as his aide. The news
from Germany was viewed carefully each day and
of course the threat from Japan was eyed closely
during that year.
Life Magazine ran a pictorial on Richardson
January 22, 1940, showing him relaxing at his Long
Beach home, pipe in hand and reading Sam
Snead's "Quick Way To Better Golf". Behind the
admiral was a photo of King George of England.
The duty should have given him more time to play
bridge and poker, cook his favorite goulash recipe
and roam the golf course. However, in April of 1940
most of the U.S. fleet was sent from the west coast
to Hawaii on what was to be a ten day stay at
Richardson, now 61 with 38 years of active
service, was in charge but considerably helpless
after he realized they were staying in Hawaii for an
extended time. Though big and imposing, he had
a sense of humor and was compassionate. He
became pretty popular with sailors when in late
1940 he authorized the wearing of shorts! Many of
them affectionately called him "Uncle Jo." All this
time, however, he was insisting that intelligence
gave the indication the Japanese might attack
the west coast. Like another Parisian, General Sam
Bell Maxey of the Civil War era, Richardson asked
to be moved closer to home to protect that
vulnerable territory first.
Throughout 1940 various battle games were
played but in July Richardson lunched with
Roosevelt, Chief of Naval Operations [CNO] Harold
R. Stark, and others at the White House. Like any
good commander, Richardson asked for more
personnel. The raids over Britain had begun,
distracting Roosevelt. Besides, with war raging to
the east and west of the United States, Roosevelt
still was being met with citizen resistance to go
help. Richardson also sternly and repeatedly
pointed to the vulnerability of troops out in other
Pacific locations. Many accounts say Richardson
thought this meeting went smoothly.
However, so distressed was Richardson after the
meeting that he called his older sister Jessie
Chambers in Paris to summarize the frustrations.
She was fairly upset and called her husband's
nephew Henry Chambers Somerville. So disturbed
was he that Richardson might lose his job, he
immediately contacted his son Henry Lee
Somerville, then a student at Sam Houston State
Teachers College. "It scared me a bit to get a late
night call," says Somerville, a retired Army colonel.
Sadly, all letters to the Texas kinfolks have been
destroyed or lost.
Richardson became more alarmed at the Pearl
Harbor fleet location but was reluctant to return to
an October meeting with the president. After a
long direct flight he was exhausted but dived right
into a series of meetings at the Navy Department.
The next day, October 8, he lunched with
Roosevelt. Leahy was there also, now in the
capacity of being the President's military advisor.
Richardson spent most of his conversation
defending his position that the fleet should be
moved out of Pearl Harbor.
Pointedly he talked, then exasperatingly stated,
"Mr. President. I feel I must tell you that the senior
officers of the Navy do not have the trust and
confidence in the civilian leadership of this country
that is essential for the successful prosecution of a
war in the Pacific."
The next day, on the front page of the
Washington Post, Richardson did not speak of his
frustrations with Roosevelt. He did announce that
he was taking several thousand sailors back to
Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt simply said "the meeting
was only a lesson in geography." He added that
he, Leahy and Richardson had discussed the
readiness of the fleet. Inside, apparently Roosevelt
had plans antithesis to Richardson's desires.
Nothing immediately changed except that
despite the long relationship with Richardson,
those words spoken on October 8 stung Roosevelt.
Subsequently, Richardson began to feel as if the
President and Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox
were hoping for a disaster, an excuse to declare
war upon Japan. They most likely were. This has
been the subject of researchers for over 48 years!
Someone thought war was inevitable. Just
reading the front page on October 9 reveals that.
Wheat was cut off to Japan, United States citizens
were advised to leave the Orient at once and
even the president's son James was ordered to
report to the Marines. That does not include the
many stories about Nazi action in Europe.
Probably few military leaders payed much
attention to the Reds victory over Detroit in the
final game of the World Series.
The first peacetime draft began in September
of 1940 and in a month 16 million men were
registered. Later in October news articles
suggested that Richardson was not ready to go to
war. He continued to believe the fleet was not yet
up to that level and should be training back off
the west coast.
Late in the year the Japanese ambassador
Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura stopped over in
Honolulu. Richardson knew him pretty well from
duties in 1928 and probably back to the time
Nomura first met Roosevelt in the assistant
Secretary of the Navy's office. Richardson
continued to warn the president and the Navy
leaders about the tenuous situation at Pearl
Harbor. Unknown to him and others, dispatches
and decoded messages were in Washington being
studied. As for Nomura, he swore to his death in
1964 that he had no knowledge of the exact plans
Richardson's brash and to-the-point discussion
with Roosevelt in October led to his release as fleet
commander on Sunday, January 5, 1941. He did
not expect it. Admiral Stark had told him the duty
would last another year. Richardson's flag
secretary Dyer brought the message to the golf
course. Richardson simply commented after
reading the orders, "My God. They can't do that to
me." They had, however. There was no record of
what he shot on the course that day but normally
his score ranged in the 80s.
On February 1, on board the flagship
Pennsylvania, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel
replaced Richardson. With the new titles of CinCUS
and of commander in chief Pacific fleet
[CinCPAC], he had the misfortune to live through
the "day of infamy." Knox later told Richardson the
removal was simply because "you hurt the
feelings" of the President.
Richardson took some time returning to
Washington, he and May meeting in Paris to stay
with her sister and sister-in-law on Church Street,
many blocks south of the old Richardson place. He
also visited and stayed with his sister Jessie
Chambers, who lived in nearby Detroit.
He told his story to some friends in Paris and
probably discussed some things with Paris News
editor A.W. "Sandy" Neville, a 77 year old J.J.
Richardson neighbor who still lived two blocks to
the west of the old home place. Most interested
Parisians speculated on just when it would
become public. "He was very quiet about the
matter," says a grand step-niece Clareda
Chambers Purser. "I can remember he had a gruff
manner but did not scare us." She remembered
that Jessie was prone to long blessings at meals
and that the admiral would comment that the
breakfast would be cold before the prayer was
Moss Richardson, another of the admiral's sisters,
was an outspoken teacher who did not have her
contract renewed in Paris in the early part of the
century. She wrote her brother from her new life
where she taught at West Texas State Teachers
College, hoping to encourage him in such a
desolate moment. She related that her father said,
"Mr. Wooten [the superintendent] has not done
anything to you that you would not have done to
him. You never have approved of him and I
suppose he knows it. If you could, you would have
dropped him." These wise words applied to
Admiral Richardson, also, she thought. Moss went
on to say how that event changed her life for the
better. "You will be used," she wrote.
Maybe that was why Richardson did not retire.
There was more he could do. He came back to
Washington and in March, 1941 became executive
vice president of the Relief Society and an assistant
to the Secretary of the Navy. He also was senior
member of the Special Committee for
Reorganization of National Defense. "I disagreed
heartily with the report," he later wrote. It dealt
with the possibility of merging the Army and Navy
into a single department. Later he said the five
final years were not mundane or trivial duty, but
that "I worked among and with friends...and there
is no work so rewarding as working with friends."
While Stark was trying to contact the President
to gain approval to relate decoded messages to
Pearl Harbor indicating an imminent attack, on
December 7, 1941, Richardson ironically said to his
wife while at breakfast, ""We are on the verge of
war which may break out any minute. About eight
years ago while a student at the War College, I
wrote a thesis on Japanese policy. After breakfast I
shall find that thesis and read it to see if my
opinions then expressed have changed." The
paper was found, and read. Soon after lunch the
telephone rang. Richardson picked it up and a
voice said, "Jo, turn on your radio." The message
from Washington to Kimmel was delayed and not
sent until the attack was underway.
When he arrived at the General Board room the
next day, he listened while others sat around
analyzing. When asked for his comments, he said
"All I have to say is that every day from now on I
am going to pray for two things: the first is for the
success of our arms; the second is that I shall keep
my mouth shut!"
Knowing that he would most likely be called
before a hearing panel, Richardson destroyed his
personal notes just like Admiral Stark's aide later
destroyed historically valuable wax cylinder
recordings of phone conversations. In the
meantime Kimmel was fighting public disdain and
was making attempts to state his case. No less than
ten investigations would follow. First there was a
secret investigation done by the Army, then two
delegates dispatched to Hawaii died on the way
on December 12, delaying a bit a quick look at the
situation. Then Secretary of the Navy Knox held his
brief investigation before the Owen J. Roberts
Commission was formed. There was an Army Board
of Investigation, and then a Naval Court of Inquiry
held July 13, 1944. Various admirals and generals
held hearings and did research, including one
conducted by Admiral T.C. Hart in 1944 when the
Navy became concerned some of the senior
officers involved may be killed in the war.
Finally, in 1946 a Congressional hearing was
underway. Richardson only testified in this one. He
was asked to head the H. Kent Hewitt investigation
but declined. Kimmel was not allowed to state his
case except at the 1944 Naval Court of Inquiry
where he was allowed to cross-examine witnesses.
He was not allowed to be a part of the Hewitt
hearings. All research into the matter turned
political, Democrats trying to protect the party and
the President while the Republicans dug to bring
out the evidence.
Richardson, however, still lived the military way,
not wishing the public to know of his inner feelings
about his president or fellow officers. Henry Lee
Somerville, a Chambers family member, relates
that the admiral took very serious his oath to obey
the commander in chief and not to reveal
personal feelings. The hearing came in November
of 1945 and he was only slightly frank in his
testimony. The Paris News ran articles each day
that Richardson's name was mentioned and when
he was questioned. "Congressional investigation of
the Pearl Harbor attack may disclose the reason
for a matter which has puzzled many Parisians
since early 1941," the first installment began.
"Admiral Richardson's story may illuminate Mr.
Roosevelt's relationship to the events leading up to
Pearl Harbor," the story quoted a press release.
Richardson testified with a grim smile that in
1940 a state department advisor "was exercising
greater influence over the disposition of the
(Pacific) fleet than I was." He was referring to
Stanley K. Hornbeck and called him "the strong
man on the Far East." Richardson based his beliefs
strongly on conversations he had with Hornbeck at
a July 11, 1940 meeting in Washington. Of course,
at that time Richardson was more antsy than ever
to move the fleet back to the west coast.
However, Richardson expressed at the end of
his session that "I never bore any resentment
toward President Roosevelt because of my
detachment... He was the constitutional
Commander of the Army and Navy. I was one of
the senior subordinates; there was a difference of
opinion; each of us frankly expressed his views;
neither could induce the other to change his
opinion." Working off his father's thoughts written
to him by Moss, "Had I been constitutional
Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I
would have taken the same action."
His work was not yet completed. He served as a
witness of the United States Navy during the trial of
the alleged Japanese war criminals. This was
before the International Military Tribunal for the Far
East, sitting in Tokyo.
Finally, on January 2, 1947, some 49 years after
leaving Paris for Annapolis, he went to his
Georgetown home as a civilian. He wrote the
Lamar County Echo in Paris that "I can now vote
for the first time," a privilege not then given to
military personnel. He could catch up on golf,
fishing and his favorite hobby--cooking. His wife
fretted that he would take over the household
operation with the same precision as he had run
Naval operations! May let him think so.
"When we visited him," commented Clareda
Purser, "he took on what he called the 'royal tour'
of D.C. He would pick cherries from the trees
downtown as he showed us around and bring
them back for the cook to use." She added that
when she and a Virginia friend visited when in their
twenties, "He sat us on the sun porch and ...served
us a beer." That was impressive since his sister Jesse
was so anti-alcohol. "It was a secret I never
revealed to my relatives," laughed Mrs. Purser.
Shortly after the Congressional hearings Admiral
Richardson was approached by Admiral Dyer and
the Naval Historical Division to reconstruct his
career and view of events. It took almost five years
of work. He did not allow its publication until 1973,
after the death of Admiral Harold R. "Betty" Stark.
Richardson had roundly criticized Stark. On The
Treadmill To Pearl Harbor: The Memoirs Of Admiral
James O. Richardson is not terribly well organized,
but it arranges his career and publishes photos for
the public to see. The Retrospect chapter at the
end of the book is revealing, though he says "I am
beyond rancor or any feeling of 'sour grapes.'
He pulled no punches, however, and blasted
Roosevelt for his treatment of Kimmel. Richardson
was convinced that Admiral Stark and the
Secretary of Navy Knox were also involved. "He
was sure Stark could have "picked up the phone
and given Kimmel a last minute alert on the
morning of Pearl Harbor." Ned Kimmel believes
the least his father and the Army could have
"buttoned up the ships and prepared guns. "If
Short had received a message he could have
gotten some fighters up" and others moving. "Two,
three and even four hours notice could have been
given," he says. Short was married to May's first
cousin from Paris. Therefore, Richardson had an
insight to the general not held by others.
Despite his pointed criticisms of Roosevelt, his
comments on the ensuing Roberts Commission
actions ["most... dishonest document ever printed
by the Government Printing Office"] and his
testimony before Congress, few books about Pearl
Harbor other than At Dawn We Slept, Pearl Harbor:
The Verdict of History, and Infamy: Pearl Harbor
And Its Aftermath have pulled deeply from
Richardson's memoirs. Only Edward Miller's War
Plan Orange spoke negative of Richardson.
Almost each year after 1946 a new book has
emerged on the subject. In 1947 George
Morgenstern came out with Pearl Harbor: Story Of
The Secret War. He was very anti-administration
and discussed suppressed reports. Rear Admiral
Robert A. Theobald wrote in 1954 in The Final
Secret of Pearl Harbor: The Washington
Contribution To The Japanese Attack that
Roosevelt's plan included no word be sent to
Hawaii. Many vital intercepts and decoding of
what was called "magic" messages were not
forwarded to Pearl Harbor.
Kimmel came out with a small, un-indexed book
in 1955. In it he said it was the summer of 1944
before he was allowed to review the Japanese
messages, and only then. At the end of his
testimony before the three man Naval Inquiry
Court, he demanded they be produced into the
record. He had first heard of them that previous
January when Captain Laurence F. Safford called
to the Connecticut Kimmel home and told the
admiral about the intercepts. "At this point Dad
stopped blaming himself and turned into a tiger!"
Ned Kimmel relates. An entire eight-volume set of
these messages is in print to study now. On
September 6, Kimmel lost his son Manning, a
submarine commander, during the Naval Court of
Inquiry, compounding the hell he, his wife and
other two sons were living.
The Court of Inquiry moved on to Oahu for
more testimony but Kimmel stayed at home with
his wife. Twelve days after the Hawaii sessions
began Richardson briefly appeared before the
three admirals when court re-convened in
Washington. He discussed mainly the air patrol
system he used and summarized his objections of
using Pearl Harbor as a base. Nothing was said
about Richardson's October, 1940 meeting with
In 1958 Hans Louis Trefousse wrote What
Happened At Pearl Harbor and made no mention
of Richardson at all! However, it is a helpful
compilation of testimony and letters. Five years
later Roberta Wohlstetter came out with Pearl
Harbor: Warning And Decision. In it she used
Roosevelt papers at the library in Hyde Park but
did no interview with Richardson. It must be
remembered that Richardson said more than once
he did not trust journalists. Therefore, most were
probably rebuffed when they asked him for
Several books followed but one interesting work
came out in 1977 by Marlin V. Melosi called The
Shadow Of Pearl Harbor: Political Controversy Over
The Surprise Attack. It said that in 1944
Congressman were calling for a hearing, one New
Yorker saying that in it Admiral Richardson would
reveal much. For years Gordon W. Prange studied
the events but died before At Dawn We Slept was
published. It was completed in 1981 by Donald
Goldstein and Katherine Dillon and gives an
excellent view of Richardson's part in the saga.
Also in 1981 Paul Stillwell edited a fine book
called Air Raid: Pearl Harbor. It is a compilation of
personal accounts by participants. In it Dyer writes
about Richardson's command and his thoughts.
Richardson is mentioned by other former officials
also in subsequent articles included in the work.
In 1982 John Toland came out with Infamy. It
went through four printings and is still easily
available at even small libraries like in Paris. He
revealed how stunned former chief of
procurement and material Admiral Samuel Murray
Robinson was when Admiral Johan E.M. Ranneft,
former naval attaché of the Netherlands to
Washington, informed him in 1960 of the successful
effort to break the Japanese codes. Robinson was
told that intelligent officers for the U.S. Navy
showed Ranneft a chart on December 6, 1941 that
revealed the location of the Japanese fleet. It was
just 400 miles from Honolulu. So, Ranneft asked
those many years later, how was it that articles
and books still express that the Americans were
taken by compete surprise?
Shocked at the news, Robinson called Stark
immediately, then phoned back Ranneft. He
tersely said that Stark refused to comment on the
matter! Ironically, Robinson's granddaughter also
lived in Paris, Texas, for many years, just a few miles
from the Richardson home.
Toland was the only writer who interviewed
Richardson's son Joe.
The subject was not through being investigated!
Kimmel's two remaining sons, Ned and Tom,
continued the quest to recoup their father's
reputation and two lost stars. In 1985 Frank Paul
Mintz even wrote a book about the books, calling
it Revisionism And The Origins Of Pearl Harbor.
Goldstein and Dillon continued work on
Prange's notes and manuscripts, resulting in a 1985
book Pearl Harbor: The Verdict Of History. It
casually mentions Richardson on only six pages.
Richardson's own book was little used in all these
views of the Pearl Harbor disaster.
In 1989 Benjamin Mitchell Simpson III had his
book published called Admiral Harold R. Stark:
Architect Of Victory 1939-1945. He wrote that Stark
had been chosen over Richardson and several
others for CNO in 1939, probably because
Roosevelt thought the two could work better.
Though some think there is little evidence
indicating Richardson did not get along with Stark,
the two disagreed on war plans and especially the
permanent placement of the fleet at Pearl Harbor.
But, Stark had the President's attention, not
Simpson went into a study of the tightrope Stark
walked between the President and Richardson. Of
course, despite Stark's 1940 attempt to persuade
Roosevelt to move the fleet back to the west
coast, the President prevailed and Roosevelt lost
confidence in Richardson, not Stark. This would
change in 1942 as far as Stark was concerned.
Simpson says Stark pleaded Richardson's case but
in the end all he was able to do was delay the
orders for relief a few days so that Richardson's
tour as CinCUS would be one year.
As for any controversy caused by Richardson's
comments that Stark could have at least called
Kimmel before the Pearl Harbor attack, there is no
discussion of this in the book. The last mention of
Richardson is about his relief from CinCUS duty.
There is detail about Stark's testimony to the Naval
inquiry court in 1944. His recollections were
somewhat lame. This court found that even if Stark
had phoned Kimmel there was little that could
have been done on December 7, contrary to
Richardson's thoughts and those of Kimmel's
family. The court also found that Stark should have
transmitted other information to Kimmel.
Ironically, Stark also got shot down by Roosevelt
shortly after Pearl Harbor, on March 2,1942.
Admiral Ernest J. King requested that Richardson
and Walton R. Sexton write an order establishing
into one office the commands of chief of Naval
Operations and commander in chief of the United
States fleet. "I asked King what was to become of
Stark." King replied, "The President said that he did
not give a damn what happened to Stark so long
as he was gotten out of Washington as soon as
practicable." Richardson then asked if Stark knew
of the change. The answer was no and Richardson
replied, "In all decency Stark should be informed.
He was--in a two hour meeting with the President
at the White House on a cold day. Stark was not
retired, however, and was given the job of
commander of Naval forces in Europe. It became
a good fit, but Stark's relationship with Roosevelt
was basically uncut.
A little over a month after Richardson testified,
on New Year's Eve, 1945 Stark took the stand for
the Congressional hearing. He had studied hard
the previous four months for this moment, going
over any documents he could find. When he
finished at the end of January, he had never
pointed a finger of singular blame at anyone, not
even at the Army. The hearing results further put
blame at the foot of Kimmel and Pearl Harbor
Army commander, General Walter Short.
However, writings since that time have not been so
kind to Stark. Dyer once concluded his thoughts by
saying rather drastically, "The ultimate responsibility
[for Pearl Harbor] has to rest with the President
because he is the one who decided to get rid of
Admiral Richardson." In reality, it was a system
breakdown involving many others than just Admiral
Richardson. It was deeper than a difference of
opinion between an admiral and the President.
Continuing the saga officially, on April 4, 1995
Ned Kimmel and his son Manning arranged a
meeting with Senator Strom Thurmond and the
tenth investigation began. Thurmond brought
together the Kimmel families, department of
defense and Navy representatives. Several
historians were also present. A review was promised
by the department of defense, led by Edwin S.
Dorn. The report made it clear that a high degree
of blame for the Pearl Harbor disaster was placed
with both Admiral Stark and the Joint Chief of Staff,
Army General George C. Marshall.
Efforts are still in place to elevate Kimmel and
Short, though Short's family resists research into his
background. His papers remain basically unstudied
at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
Though Richardson outlived Stark by two years,
his mind became disoriented at the end of his life.
However, May took care of him at the house at
Number 2708 35th Place NW. He quietly died in
Georgetown in mid-1974 at the age of 95.
As Admiral Kimmel's grandson Tom said,
Richardson had the right to boast of the greatest "I
told you so" in history. Instead, he wrote his
memoirs1 and then lived the rest of life basically in
1 . "On the Treadmill to Pearl Harbor : The memoirs of Admiral J.O. Richardson" as told to Vice Admiral George C. Dyer. Completed 1958 , published : 73-600198
2 . Skipper's biography of Richardson is due out next Summer, 2008, 440 pages. Pelican Press.
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About this page: Richards -- A hometown magazine article about the Admiral
who said that basing the fleet at Pearl Harbor was a mistake.
Last updated on July 4, 2003