One of my favorite movies is Midway, the star-studded 1976 drama that portrays the pivotal battle of Midway Island fought in the middle of the Pacific Ocean from June 4-6, 1942. To the producers’ credit, the film presents the battle in a fairly balanced manner, showing the event as it unfolded from the perspective of both the Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States forces.
In the process, it shows the strengths and weaknesses of each side, as well as the costly mistakes each party brought to the fray. Above all, perhaps, it is a lesson in how even the seemingly smallest of matters can have a huge impact on the outcome of significant historical events.
In a classic scene in the movie, the battle is brewing and the Japanese Commander in charge of the air attack, Vice-Admiral Chūichi Nagumo, is somewhat apprehensive because two of his key staff members are ill and unable to perform their duties. It unfolds this way…
Nagumo: “Where's Commander Genda?”
Captain Aoki: “He's in sick bay, Admiral. Influenza.”
Nagumo: “When does the doctor think he can resume his duties?”
Captain Aoki: “In three or four days.”
Nagumo: “I don't like beginning this operation without my best air commander.”
Captain Aoki: “We have another sick bay casualty: Commander Fuchida has appendicitis.”
Nagumo: “Fuchida too? We'll need a replacement.”
Captain Aoki: “Genda suggests a veteran torpedo pilot: Lieutenant Tomonaga.”
Nagumo: “If Genda says so, I want to see Tomonaga right away.”
Captain Aoki: “Yes, Sir.”
Nagumo: “Fuchida, the man who led my first strike on Pearl Harbor, out. Genda, who planned it, both ill. Very bad luck, Sir, very bad luck.”
Sometime later, as the battle is unfolding, Staff Officer Minoru Genda makes his way to the bridge of the Carrier Akagi and reports to Admiral Nagumo. A second conversation unfolds…
Genda: “My apologies. I've been away from my duties much too long.”
Nagumo: “Genda, how are you?”
Genda: “I'm well enough to take charge of air operations.”
Nagumo: “And so you shall, my friend. Prepare an air search plan right away.”
Genda: “For what area?”
Nagumo: “Where I would deploy my carriers if I were an American commander. There, northeast of Midway.”
And thus, the battle is joined.
Nonetheless, it is arguable that the expertise of men like Genda and Fuchida was missed at just the time it was needed. Battle, like life itself, is a very fluid thing. And the proficiency of gifted individuals doing their jobs in just the right way at just the right time often has a significant impact on the outcome. As does the lack thereof!
I say all that to say why it is that I as a Pastor do not like to be sick – especially on the Lord’s Day! At the risk of sounding pompous, I am confident enough to believe that God had both called me and gifted me to serve Him in my capacity as a communicator of the Gospel.
And when I am unable to fulfill my responsibilities, as I have been over the last few days to due to a bout with the flu, it is very frustrating! (Hence, the recent gap in my blog posts.) And in the words of Captain Genda, I feel as though I have been away from my duties much too long!
That being said, I am glad to report that I am now beginning to feel much better and will no doubt soon return to my responsibilities. And like the aforementioned Captain, I will add that, hopefully, I am well now enough to resume my duties!
Thanks to all those who offered prayers for my speedy recovery. I have felt them. The good Lord willing, I will be back on station right soon!
SEE ALSO: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074899/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midway_(1976_film) as well as Professor Gordon Prang's masterful work, Miracle at Midway (New York: Penguin Books, 1983).
NOTE ALSO: The movie is being re-made and scheduled to be released in 2019. Cf.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midway_(1976_film).