“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