Bike messenger delivered Pearl Harbor attack warning

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.

Bike messenger on Pearl Harbor Day

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.

34 Comments

  • GeekGuyAndy
    December 7, 2009 - 4:52 pm | Permalink

    What a lame bike messenger! This guy was 2 hours late for the lame reason of falling bombs?!Bike messengers in NYC can weave in and out of traffic, blow red lights to cross the 3 lanes, somehow not get shot by every taxi driver they piss off and shrug it all off while eating a gourmet burrito and wearing $400 tight pants like it's just a typical day of work.:D

  • GeekGuyAndy
    December 7, 2009 - 9:52 am | Permalink

    What a lame bike messenger! This guy was 2 hours late for the lame reason of falling bombs?!

    Bike messengers in NYC can weave in and out of traffic, blow red lights to cross the 3 lanes, somehow not get shot by every taxi driver they piss off and shrug it all off while eating a gourmet burrito and wearing $400 tight pants like it's just a typical day of work.

    :D

  • Yokota Fritz
    December 7, 2009 - 5:05 pm | Permalink

    I know what you mean, Andy. I'm always bragging about how bikes would be perfect for disaster scenarios, but then this messenger in Honolulu lets us down.

  • Yokota Fritz
    December 7, 2009 - 10:05 am | Permalink

    I know what you mean, Andy. I'm always bragging about how bikes would be perfect for disaster scenarios, but then this messenger in Honolulu lets us down.

  • GeekGuyAndy
    December 7, 2009 - 5:11 pm | Permalink

    After watching the bike messenger race videos from digave.com, if given the choice I'd actually have to think about whether I would rather race with those guys or dodge falling bombs.That website, by the way, was the only thing that inspired me to ride for more than 5 minutes on my rollers last winter. It was a bit dangerous when you get into it and have to remind yourself not to swerve.

  • GeekGuyAndy
    December 7, 2009 - 10:11 am | Permalink

    After watching the bike messenger race videos from digave.com, if given the choice I'd actually have to think about whether I would rather race with those guys or dodge falling bombs.

    That website, by the way, was the only thing that inspired me to ride for more than 5 minutes on my rollers last winter. It was a bit dangerous when you get into it and have to remind yourself not to swerve.

  • bikesgonewild
    December 7, 2009 - 6:53 pm | Permalink

    …sheesh…i was reading your post w/ reverence because to my parents generation, a day like today held a certain seriousness but i did chuckle on reading your last line……btw, a little known about telegram was discovered after the war at ft shafter, hawaii…it read – "bike messenger[stop]…message now irrelevant[stop]…thanks for effort[stop]…no tip, sorry…money used for war effort[stop]…you get the shaft[end]"……at least, that's how i heard it…

  • bikesgonewild
    December 7, 2009 - 11:53 am | Permalink

    …sheesh…i was reading your post w/ reverence because to my parents generation, a day like today held a certain seriousness but i did chuckle on reading your last line…

    …btw, a little known about telegram was discovered after the war at ft shafter, hawaii…it read – "bike messenger[stop]…message now irrelevant[stop]…thanks for effort[stop]…no tip, sorry…money used for war effort[stop]…you get the shaft[end]"

    …at least, that's how i heard it…

  • Yokota Fritz
    December 7, 2009 - 7:03 pm | Permalink

    @Andy: I can totally picture tipping over while riding with those videos!@BGW: What's cool is that I also ran across mentions where teens volunteered as bike messengers on and after Pearl Harbor Day.

  • Yokota Fritz
    December 7, 2009 - 12:03 pm | Permalink

    @Andy: I can totally picture tipping over while riding with those videos!

    @BGW: What's cool is that I also ran across mentions where teens volunteered as bike messengers on and after Pearl Harbor Day.

  • bikesgonewild
    December 7, 2009 - 7:31 pm | Permalink

    ……very cool & i'm sure there are some heartfelt stories in there……& no doubt about it, fritz…were there to be a serious "break" in our modern day infrastructure, the relevancy of bicycles would suddenly become vastly obvious…

  • bikesgonewild
    December 7, 2009 - 12:31 pm | Permalink

    ……very cool & i'm sure there are some heartfelt stories in there…

    …& no doubt about it, fritz…were there to be a serious "break" in our modern day infrastructure, the relevancy of bicycles would suddenly become vastly obvious…

  • MWA
    December 7, 2009 - 7:45 pm | Permalink

    My name is James Karhu and I'm casting a new fitness/weight loss show titled "Thintervention with Jackie Warner" on Bravo for people in the Los Angeles area. For 5 months you'll get a personal trainer, nutritionist, therapist, and a personalized diet. You can apply here:http://www.jameskarhu.com/thinflyer.pdf

  • MWA
    December 7, 2009 - 12:45 pm | Permalink

    My name is James Karhu and I'm casting a new fitness/weight loss show titled "Thintervention with Jackie Warner" on Bravo for people in the Los Angeles area. For 5 months you'll get a personal trainer, nutritionist, therapist, and a personalized diet. You can apply here:

    http://www.jameskarhu.com/thinflyer.pdf

  • murphstahoe
    December 7, 2009 - 7:54 pm | Permalink

    They should have used twitter…

  • murphstahoe
    December 7, 2009 - 12:54 pm | Permalink

    They should have used twitter…

  • Yokota Fritz
    December 7, 2009 - 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Hmm, military and diplomatic encrypted messages on Twitter.It occurs to me that Twitter would be a decent way to steganographically exchange hidden messages. "A doctor who specializes in skin diseases will dream that he has fallen asleep in front of the television."

  • Yokota Fritz
    December 7, 2009 - 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Hmm, military and diplomatic encrypted messages on Twitter.

    It occurs to me that Twitter would be a decent way to steganographically exchange hidden messages. "A doctor who specializes in skin diseases will dream that he has fallen asleep in front of the television."

  • bikesgonewild
    December 7, 2009 - 8:18 pm | Permalink

    "understood, san jose rolly…a wet bird flies not at night except when he's hungry"……damn !!!…my ellipses give me away as a source…

  • bikesgonewild
    December 7, 2009 - 1:18 pm | Permalink

    "understood, san jose rolly…a wet bird flies not at night except when he's hungry"

    …damn !!!…my ellipses give me away as a source…

  • Yokota Fritz
    December 7, 2009 - 8:22 pm | Permalink

    That's the idea with hidden messages — it's okay that the source is known because nobody knows there's a secret message.

  • Yokota Fritz
    December 7, 2009 - 1:22 pm | Permalink

    That's the idea with hidden messages — it's okay that the source is known because nobody knows there's a secret message.

  • Detroiter
    December 7, 2009 - 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Pretty cool man!Kamikaze cycles!

  • Detroiter
    December 7, 2009 - 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Pretty cool man!

    Kamikaze cycles!

  • Der Geis
    December 7, 2009 - 11:19 pm | Permalink

    He probably didn't get at a tip. As a japamese-American in Hawaii, he more than likely spent the rest of the war in an internment camp.

  • Der Geis
    December 7, 2009 - 4:19 pm | Permalink

    He probably didn't get at a tip. As a japamese-American in Hawaii, he more than likely spent the rest of the war in an internment camp.

  • Yokota Fritz
    December 8, 2009 - 12:17 am | Permalink

    @Dergeis – there was no internment in Hawaii. That was all mainland west coast.

  • Yokota Fritz
    December 7, 2009 - 5:17 pm | Permalink

    @Dergeis – there was no internment in Hawaii. That was all mainland west coast.

  • vtrendsetter
    December 8, 2009 - 3:08 am | Permalink

    where watching the bike messenger race videos? someone help me please

  • vtrendsetter
    December 7, 2009 - 8:08 pm | Permalink

    where watching the bike messenger race videos? someone help me please

  • Yokota Fritz
    December 8, 2009 - 6:08 am | Permalink

    @vtrendsetter: Andy's talking about Lucas Brunelle's videos. Check them out here at his website. Some have also been copied to YouTube but people put different soundtracks to them. The one to watch is "Drag Race NYC."

  • Yokota Fritz
    December 7, 2009 - 11:08 pm | Permalink

    @vtrendsetter: Andy's talking about Lucas Brunelle's videos. Check them out here at his website. Some have also been copied to YouTube but people put different soundtracks to them. The one to watch is "Drag Race NYC."

  • bikesgonewild
    December 8, 2009 - 6:42 am | Permalink

    …nice "photoshop" work, bud…i'm guessing dull scissors, a glue stick, a library book & a cell phone camera……btw…this is not a secret message…

  • bikesgonewild
    December 7, 2009 - 11:42 pm | Permalink

    …nice "photoshop" work, bud…i'm guessing dull scissors, a glue stick, a library book & a cell phone camera…

    …btw…this is not a secret message…

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