02/23/10 – Kermit Tyler, 96, could have either used better glasses or better training. Either way he never lived to forget Pearl Harbor Day.
It was December 7, 1941 and Tyler, a first lieutenant on temporary duty at Fort Shafter’s radar information center in Hawaii, thought the big blip on the radar screen was a fleet of U.S. B-17 bombers due in from the mainland, so he replied, “Don’t worry about it,” when told of the approaching mass.
Everybody makes mistakes.
Unfortunately this mistake was more than 180 Japanese fighters only 132 miles away and approaching fast.
Shortly before 8 a.m. that mistake plunged the United States into World War II.
The 1970 movie “Tora! Tora! Tora!” portrayed him in an unflattering light. People attending the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center Theater still groan when they hear Tyler’s response to the radar report.
But hey, It was practically his first night on the job and he was not found guilty of anything. In fact, he stayed in the Air Force until retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1961. Afterwards he launched a career in real estate.