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From the Pastor's Desk

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Good Morning Pioneer Baptist!

His name was Harry Ervin Yarnell, and you need to know who he was.

Apart from his parents and close relatives, it wasn’t exactly big news when little Harry made his entrance into the world in a small country setting near Independence, Iowa. It was October 18, 1875. Harry grew as little ones do, attended the country schools there, and graduated from Independence High School. By then, he had grown into a smart, handsome, strapping, very successful young man. Successful enough, in fact, that he was appointed to the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland. You can imagine how proud his parents were. Independence was a town which hadn’t been founded until just twenty-eight years before Harry was, and in 1847 Independence had fewer than fifteen persons in residence. And remember, Harry was born “outside” of town. Yes, Harry was a small town boy made good, and everybody figured there was more to come! And they were so right.

On June 2, 1897, Harry Yarnell graduated with distinction, fourth in his class, and proudly began his career as an officer in the United States Navy. He served at sea for two years, was commissioned Ensign on July 1, 1899, and embarked on a career spanning over fifty-one years and three wars, from the Spanish–American War through World War II. By the end of it, he was “Admiral” Harry Yarnell, and was one of the few admirals of the time who was a qualified naval aviator. He even had a ship named in his honor, The USS Harry E. Yarnell (DLG-17), built at Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine! Great career, great man, and a great American success story; born in 1875, died in 1959, and that’s that!

But not so fast, my friend!

In 1927, Yarnell had taken command of the aircraft carrier Saratoga and was instrumental in developing carrier tactics, and in June of 1931, he became Commander Aircraft, Battle Force, with additional duty as Commander Aircraft, US Fleet. Since 1923, the U.S. Navy had conducted large-scale naval exercises, termed "Fleet Problems," during which U.S. Naval forces would engage in mock battles with a purported European or Asian attacker. Fleet Problem Number 13 was a mock attack by a "militaristic, Asian, island nation against the military base at Pearl Harbor." The exercise was designed to test Pearl's defenses and assess its vulnerability to an attack, and the attacking force commander in this mock exercise just happened to be one Rear Admiral Harry Yarnell. Admiral Yarnell maintained that Japan "had always started operations by attacking before a declaration of war." Accordingly, he designed an attack plan that utilized carrier aviation to launch a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Pearl's defenders in this mock exercise had anticipated that Yarnell would attack with his battleships, but instead, he left his battleships behind and advanced with the carriers Saratoga and Lexington to a point north-northeast of Hawaii. At dawn, on Sunday February 7, 1932, Yarnell launched his attack with a force of 152 planes from the two carriers. His attack force first attacked the airfields and then proceeded to attack the ships along battleship row. Yarnell achieved total surprise. The airfields were put out of commission, with not a single plane getting airborne during the attack. The attacking force scored multiple hits on the battleships, dropping sacks of white flour to simulate bombs on the decks. The umpires declared that Yarnell's attack had been a complete success and declared him the winner.

The Army and Navy brass, however, would have none of it. They complained that Yarnell had “cheated.” He had attacked at dawn on a Sunday morning, a time considered "inappropriate" for an attack. His attack vector from the north-northeast had mimicked planes arriving from the mainland. Most importantly, the Navy argued, low level precision bombing of battleships at anchor was unrealistic since "everyone knew that Asians lacked sufficient hand-eye coordination to engage in that kind of precision bombing." (Talk about “politically incorrect”) Pressured by the War Department, the umpires reversed their decision and declared that the defenders had won the exercise. The Navy and its "Battleship Admirals" ignored Yarnell's contention that Pearl Harbor was vulnerable to an attack by naval air power. The exercise was widely reported in the press and was observed by Japanese naval officers at the Japanese consulate on Oahu.

Just under ten years later, on a December 7th Sunday morning, the Japanese reversed the decision of the umpires, confirming that Yarnell was perfectly right, and that the Navy’s "Battleship Admirals" were horribly and tragically wrong! Implementing a carbon copy of Admiral Yarnell’s brilliant and prophetic warning plan, the Japanese accomplished what Admiral Yarnell said they could, wiping out Hickam Field, Battleship Row, and killing 2,403 Americans and wounding 1,178 others. Conspiracy theories about the “whats and the whys and the secrets ” of the attack on Pearl abound, but what is not a secret, is the fact that the Japanese attack plan against Pearl Harbor had been perfectly forecast a decade earlier by a brilliant American admiral.

We’ve got our own Admiral Yarnells in our great history of Biblical forefathers, going back to Enoch who prophesied of the 2nd coming of Christ, to Isaiah and Micah who as clearly as the Admiral did in his way, gave the blueprint for the birth of the LORD Jesus Christ. And Let’s not forget John the Baptist, and what Jesus Himself told us about the sneak attacks of Satan, the tragic consequences, and how to defend against them. We know the plan of attack, and we know the defenses. We’ve been told, we’ve been warned, and we’ve been informed.

Please remember Admiral Harry E. Yarnell. If the leaders had listened, the people would not have perished!

Love and prayers to all,


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