“Just before I got into the plane, the officer in charge of the maintenance crew came over to me with a white hachimaki, a cloth headband. I could just make out his smile in the dim light.
“‘It’s a gift from the maintenance crews,’ he said. ‘We want you to take it to Pearl Harbor.’
“I shook his hand and tucked the band into my flying cap.
“The engines warming up were a full-throated chorus in my ears. Suddenly, a green lamp was swung in a circle at the end of the flight deck. It was the signal for take-off. As it was released, the first plane moved forward. It gained speed. I held my breath wondering if the pilot’s timing would be right [against the pitching deck]. Then I breathed easier as it was airborne.
“Another followed … and another … and another … out into the darkness.
“Fifteen minutes later, 183 fighter-bombers and torpedo planes had taken off from the flight deck of six aircraft carriers. This was the first wave of the total of 359 planes, which I led into Pearl Harbor. We were 230 miles due north of Oahu Island and Pearl Harbor.
“This was the culmination of my every waking thought since the day, September 24, 1941, when Commander Genda had taken me aside at Kagoshima on the southern tip of Kyushu and said, ‘Don’t be alarmed, Fuchida, but we want you to lead our air force in the event we attack Pearl Harbor!’
“… And now December 7 was here, and our air armada was airborne. We flew through heavy clouds for forty-five minutes. Then I turned on the radio-direction finder and picked up a Honolulu radio station. As I listened to a program of light music, I adjusted the antenna and found we were five degrees off course. I corrected this. As I continued to listen, I heard the announcer give the weather report.
“‘Averaging partly cloudy, with clouds mostly in the mountains. Cloud base at 3500 feet. Visibility good. Wind north at ten knots an hour.’
“We could not have asked for better weather!”
– From Pearl Harbor To Calvary, by Mitsuo Fuchida, 1959
Addendum (from Wikipedia):
“After the war, Captain Mitsuo Fuchida, who led the air attack on Pearl Harbor, was called on to testify at the trials of some of the Japanese military for Japanese war crimes, infuriated because he believed the trials were little more than ‘victors’ justice’. In the spring of 1947, convinced that the U.S. had treated the Japanese the same way and determined to bring that evidence to the next trial, Fuchida went to Uraga Harbor near Yokosuka to meet a group of returning Japanese prisoners of war.
“Fuchida was surprised to find his former flight engineer, Kazuo Kanegasaki, whom all had believed had died in the Battle of Midway. When questioned, Kanegasaki told Fuchida that they were not tortured or abused, much to Fuchida’s surprise, and then went on to tell him of a young lady, Peggy Covell, who served them with the deepest love and respect, but whose parents, missionaries, had been beheaded by Japanese soldiers on the island of Panay in the Philippines.
“For Fuchida, this was inexplicable, as in the Bushido code revenge was not only permitted, it was ‘a responsibility’ for an offended party to carry out revenge to restore honor. The murderer of one’s parents would be a sworn enemy for life. He became almost obsessed trying to understand why anyone would treat their enemies with love and forgiveness.
“Captain Fuchida’s life was changed by Peggy Covell’s story and he converted to Christianity and devoted his life to the teachings of forgiveness and peace.”