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Vice Adm. Chuichi Nagumo
Vice Adm. Chuichi Nagumo
Photograph courtesy U.S. Naval Historical Center


Nagumo was commander of the Japanese carrier striking force that attacked Pearl Harbor and roamed throughout the southwestern Pacific and Indian Oceans in the first six months of 1942. He had no prior experience with naval aviation; his appointment to command the carrier striking force on the eve of the war had come as a reward for his long and active service.

Nagumo was seen as a man of action rather than introspection, happier at sea in command than in a staff job ashore. He was known as generous, outgoing, compassionate, and interested in the welfare of his men.

Nagumo commanded the carrier force at Midway, where it was devastated by U.S. Navy dive-bombers. Nagumo remained in command of the surviving Japanese carriers in battles for the Solomon Islands. He was replaced as head of the rebuilt carrier force in November 1942.

Nagumo committed suicide on Saipan, in the Northern Marianas Islands, in July 1944, as U.S. troops stormed the island.


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