Today — December 7 — is “the day that will live in infamy,” when the Japanese Imperial Navy launched a surprise attack in 1941 that crippled the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Here’s a tiny little footnote in history about this day.
Japan intended to deliver a declaration of war 30 minutes prior to the beginning of the attack, but bureaucrats at the Japanese embassy in Washington were slow in decoding, typing, and delivering the message to Secretary of State Cordell Hull.
The U.S. Army had already decrypted the declaration on the evening of December 6 and dispatched war warnings to all Pacific area commands. Communication problems delayed receipt of the warning in Honolulu until after 7:30 AM, Hawaii time. A Japanese-American bicycle messenger was immediately sent to deliver the warning to General Walter Short, who was in charge of defending Pearl Harbor. The messenger was pedaling to Ft Shafter when, at 7:55 AM, the cyclist was caught in the attack. He finally delivered his message through falling bombs and bullets two hours after the start of the attack.
There’s no word on if this unnamed messenger received a tip for his services.