Capt. Colan's Letters (Fall 2001) to the White House Preceding the 60th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor

Captain Vincent J. Colan, USNR-Ret., has been among the leaders in the push to have the highest WWII ranks of Kimmel and Short restored as prescribed in the Officer Personnel Act of 1947.  He has share copies of many of his letters with us as guides and inspiration as we write our own letters to influential members of government and the media.
 
On this web page:
        Capt. Colan's letter of October 23, 2001 to President Bush
        Capt. Colan's e-mail of November 27, 2001 to President Bush   

Capt. Colan's letter of October 23, 2001

This letter was inspired by "Ned" Kimmel's call for supporters to write to President Bush.  As Vince wrote to others on the same day:

"Edward 'Ned' Kimmel alerts me that:

 

"Tom Kimmel, Jr. (Ned's nephew) and Admiral Thomas Moorer (former Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff) will deliver presentations at the World War II Veterans Committee Conference beginning at 8:15 a.m., November 8, at the Crown Hotel, 14th and K Streets, Washington, DC.  This will be the last visible opportunity to state the case of Admiral Kimmel and General Short prior to whatever commemorative events may be planned for the 60th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

 

"Ned urgently asks that we call or write directly to President Bush asking him to honor the request of Congress to advance Admiral Kimmel and General Short to their highest held wartime ranks.  He also suggests that we appeal to our Senators and Representatives to do the same thing, and write letters and/or op-ed pieces to our local newspapers to show wide public support for these promotions.

 

"As you know, I have been active in this crusade for the past ten years.   In response to the above, today I wrote to President Bush the following:"

 
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
 
Dear President Bush,
 
Last year Congress unanimously approved a provision in the Defense Appropriation Act of 2001 requesting the President to take necessary action to promote Admiral Husband Kimmel and General Walter Short to their highest wartime ranks of 4-star Admiral and 3-star General, respectively.  In this provision, Congress cites 21 reasons why it exonerated these officers, and concluded that they performed their duties professionally and competently.  I cannot understand why this provision, adopted by a unanimous bipartisan Congress, continues to go unheeded.
 
Although they repeatedly requested one, Admiral Kimmel and General Short were never court-martialed, thus they were never convicted of the military offenses they were alleged to have committed.  Furthermore, in 1944, Courts of Inquiry exonerated Kimmel and Short, and placed the blame for the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on officials in Washington.
 
December 7, 2001 will be the 60th anniversary of the attack.  It will also be the 60th anniversary of the year that Admiral Kimmel, General Short and their families were confined to historical purgatory because of the indifference of our government to right the grievous wrongs done to these officers.  Among supporting comments made by contemporary naval and military force commanders, Admiral William "Bull" Halsey said it best:  "I know of no officer who could have done more that Admiral Kimmel did."
 
Several months ago, with the stroke of a pen, you put an end to the bickering of the dozen or more agencies delaying the construction for the National WWII Memorial.  With the same stroke of a pen, you can put an end to the six decades of agony and suffering the Kimmel and Short families have endured.
 
Mr. President, the 60th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 2001, would be a highly appropriate day for you to announce that the honor and dignity of the last two casualties of Pearl Harbor have been restored.
 
                                                                           Respectfully,
                                                                           Vincent J. Colan 

 

Capt. Colan's letter of November 27th, 2001

From: Vincent J. Colan

To: president@whitehouse.gov
Cc: vice.president@whitehouse.gov
Sent: Tuesday, November 27, 2001 12:18 PM
Subject: Pearl Harbor Day - Admiral Kimmel and General Short - Scapegoats
Dear President Bush,
 
With the advent of December 7, 2001, Pearl Harbor Day, our nation will observe 60 years of disgrace and shame it brought upon itself when it consigned Admiral Husband Kimmel and General Walter Short into historical purgatory by unfairly placing the blame for the Japanese sneak attack on these two outstanding officers. For 59 long and agonizing years, they and their families have lived in infamy, and at times hostility, because of the failure of our government, administration after administration, to admit, despite overwhelming evidence, that these two officers were unjustly blamed for the disaster and made the Pearl Harbor scapegoats.
 
With release of occasional small quantities of classified documents in the past decade, about a half dozen books about Pearl Harbor and the role specifically played by Admiral Kimmel, and the command in Washington, have been published. These books reveal evidence that contribute significantly to the exoneration of Admiral Kimmel as well as General Short. Although they repeatedly requested a court martial where their cases would be heard under oath and witnesses called and cross-examined, they were never granted one. Despite a number of government investigations (courts of inquiry exonerated Kimmel and Short in 1944, but the findings were kept secret until after the war), they were never charged with dereliction of duty or errors of judgment, or any other military offenses, as a number of ignorant pundits have recently declared.
 
In 1994, following the release of Pearl Harbor documents, Senator Strom Thurman, then Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, held a hearing to consider this new evidence. As a result, the Department of Defense issued a report declaring that: "responsibility for the Pearl Harbor disaster should not fall solely on the shoulders of Admiral Kimmel and General Short, it should be broadly shared." However, while those unnamed officials (referring to those in command at Washington) were allowed to retain the high ranks to which they were advanced during the war, Kimmel and Short, who were more deserving of keeping their highest ranks than they were, were not advanced to their highest ranks.
 
As you know, in October 2000, Congress by a unanimous bi-partisan vote, adopted the conference report of the Defense Authorization Act of 2001 in which it requested the President to take necessary action to restore Admiral Kimmel and General Short to their highest wartime ranks, that of 4-star Admiral and 3-star General, respectively. President Clinton signed the Act on October 30, 2000. Although he took time to pardon 240 criminals during the remaining weeks of his administration, he ignored the unanimous request of Congress to restore Kimmel and Short to their highest ranks, probably because it was an exoneration rather than a bribe generating pardon. No reason has yet been given why you and your administration have failed to take action to honor this unanimous request.
 
Several months ago, with the stroke of a pen, you put an end to the bickering of the dozen or more agencies delaying the construction of the National World War II Memorial. With the same stroke of a pen, you can put an end to the six decades of agony and suffering the Kimmel and Short families have painfully endured. Also several months ago, the Secretary of the Navy complied with the request of Congress, included in the same Defense Appropriation Act, to expunge the infamous court martial conviction of CAPT Charles McVay III, commanding officer of the USS Indianapolis. It is a searing shame on our government that McVay became so despondent over his unfair conviction that he committed suicide. It is also our country's shame that his son, who worked feverishly to clear his father's name, died, surely of a broken heart, just before this interminable and inexcusable delayed action was taken.
 
Admiral Kimmel had three sons, all of whom served in the Navy during World War II. One son, Manning, was commanding officer of the submarine USS Robalo. In 1944, the Robalo struck a mine while on patrol in the South China Sea and sank with the loss of all hands. Another son, Tom, served in four submarines during the war, and later commanded a heavy cruiser before retiring in 1965 with the rank of Captain. He died in 1998. A third son, LCDR Edward "Ned" Kimmel, served on the staff of the Commander Atlantic Fleet, and is the only surviving son. He has worked strenuously for more than half a century to clear his father's name. Must he too die of a broken heart before his father's name is cleared because of the callous indifference of your administration to set the record straight?
 
It is said that an injustice done to one in uniform is an injustice to all in uniform. It is long past time that decency and justice are restored to Admiral Kimmel and General Short, and the mark of dishonor that has branded all that served in our armed services is removed. If we are to believe that your administration is a compassionate administration, there is no better way to manifest this than by righting the grievous wrongs done to Admiral Kimmel and General Short. Among the comments made by more than 40 contemporary 4-star Admirals, US Senators, and naval historians and authors, Senator Jesse Helms said it best: "These two officers are the most maligned men in the history of the United States." It is mind-boggling why the provision of a unanimous, bi-partisan Congress that cited 21 reasons in requesting the president to take necessary action to restore Kimmel and Short to their highest ranks, goes unheeded.
 
Mr. President, I am an 87 year old veteran with 42 years of Navy and Naval Reserve service, starting in 1932. In 1938 - 1939, I was a signalman aboard the heavy cruiser USS San Francisco when Admiral Kimmel was aboard the ship as flagship for Commander Cruiser Division 7. For the past ten years I have spent most of my time seeking justice for Admiral Kimmel.
 
Mr. President, I implore you to restore Admiral Kimmel and General Short to their highest WWII ranks at least by the time we commemorate the 60th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 2001. By doing so, you will remove the shame and disgrace unjustly cast upon these two officers for the past 60 years.
 
Respectfully,
 
 
CAPT Vincent J. Colan, USNR-Ret.
P.O. Box 2207
Hendersonville, NC 28793
 
828 697 2748
vjcusnr@ioa.com

Details on the pages of the Kimmel Family Record web site come from the collection of
Timothy W. Kimmel of Fort Wayne, Indiana.  You can contact Tim at timkimmel@comcast.net

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