World War II Imperial Japanese Navy flag returns to Pearl Harbor

Dianne Hall, left, donates an Imperial Japanese Navy flag recovered from the Japanese Battleship Nagato to the National Park Service at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center Oct. 13.

Dianne Hall, left, donates an Imperial Japanese Navy flag recovered from the Japanese Battleship Nagato to the National Park Service at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center Oct. 13.

Story and photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Corwin M. Colbert

Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

An Imperial Japanese Navy flag recovered from the Battleship Nagato by a Sailor assigned to USS Horace A. Bass (APD 124) in 1945 was donated to the National Park Service on Oct. 13 at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.

Nagato was the flagship of Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The flag was donated by Dianne Hall and her siblings Betty Jo Eller, Sherry Bryant, Robert D. Hartman Jr. and Wanda Morris. The flag was given to Hall by her mother in memory of her father, Robert Hartman Sr., a WWII Navy ship’s cook aboard USS Horace A. Bass and later a U.S. Army mess sergeant, after he passed away.

The flag has remained in her family since.

“My dad retrieved the flag during the war,” Hall said. “It’s been a part of our family for a long time. When we (siblings) were young, it would get cold at night so we would use it as a blanket. I remember complaining to my mother about how it irritated my skin because of the wool. As an adult, I realized the significance of the flag.”

History is ingrained into her family. Her husband is also a Vietnam veteran and Hall is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

“Veterans are very special to me,” she said. “One of my duties with the Daughters of the American Revolution is to serve coffee at a local restaurant. Each week is an opportunity to listen or just say ‘thank you’ to our former and current members of the service.”

Roger Schiradelly, community liaison of Living Military Museum, convinced Hall to donate the flag. With the assistance of John Hedley, president of Living Military Museum, Hall was able to reach out to the National Park Service and Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.

“Roger expressed to me the proper way to honor the history and significance of the flag — was to bring it to Pearl Harbor and not at a local museum,” Hall said. “With the assistance of John Hedley, I was able to connect and bring the flag here. I cannot express the deep gratitude I have for this moment.”

Jacquelyn Ashwell, superintendent of World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, said the flag is a rare and special artifact.

“This is an amazing donation. Here at the museum, we receive many wonderful tokens of history but having such a relic from a high profile ship as is the Nagato, the ship that was Adm. Yamamoto’s flagship, is an extraordinary gift on behalf of the American people.”

The flag will be properly preserved. No further plans for the flag are available at this time.

The Nagato was a super-dreadnought battleship built for the Imperial Japanese Navy during the 1910s. The ship was modernized in 1934–36. Yamamoto famously issued the “Climb Mount Niitaka,” orders which confirmed the fleet was attacking Pearl Harbor from the ship.

Nagato provided long-range cover and screening for Japanese ships returning from Hawaiian waters. After the end of hostilities with Japan on Aug. 15, 1945, Horace A. Bass remained off Japan with United States Third Fleet units until the ships triumphantly entered Tokyo Bay on Aug. 27, 1945. Horace A. Bass took part in the occupation of the giant Yokosuka Naval Base and took possession of battleship Nagato, one of the very few major ships left to the Imperial Japanese Navy.

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