“Wounded Tiger” is a complex and compelling, first “non-fiction novel” by Tucsonan T. Martin Bennett, about the Japanese pilot Commander Mitsuo Fuchida who led the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and survived WWII. He is the “wounded tiger” of the title, being born in the Year of the Tiger (per Asian zodiac calendar) but is not wounded physically but spiritually from Japan’s defeat.
This well-written, gripping novel is about three separate but parallel true stories that take place during WWII, which finally intersect at the end, into a powerful message of love. The first true story is obviously about Fuchida’s rise to power as a pilot in Japan’s Imperial Navy.
The second true story is about an American husband/wife team of Baptist missionary teachers Jimmy & Charma Covell who live in Japan for 20 years, raising their 3 children Peggy, David, and Alice to appreciate Japanese culture. They flee to the Philippines before WWII begins, but are there on the island of Panay when Japan invades & occupies that country.
The third true story is about Jake DeShazer, a young man from Oregon who becomes a Sgt. and bombadier in the U.S. Army Air Corps during WWII. Jake’s first mission is with Lt. Jimmy Doolittle’s B- 25 team which flies to Japan and bombs Tokyo, Yokohama, Kobe, and Nagoya in April, 1942. Eight of them are captured by the Japanese and Jake spends the rest of the war as a P.O.W. being tortured and almost dies in captivity.
How these three stories of Fuchida, the Covell family, and Jake tie together in the end is fascinating and almost unbelievable. The novel is a fast-paced epic chronology from September 1923 to the autumn of 1950.
It is about war & peace, extreme courage, suffering & redemption, and finally spiritual understanding. The message of love and humanity is very powerful and fulfilling in all these 3 stories.
Interestingly, the chapter dated September 5, 1941 mentions General (Hajime) Sugiyama, Japanese Emperor Hirohito’s Army Chief of Staff, who coincidentally had the same last name as my maiden name, though no known relative of mine. My Sugiyama paternal grandparents Hiyakuji and Tai (aka Dai) Sugiyama emigrated from Hiroshima in June, 1892 for the Kingdom of Hawaii, so we left some of our Sugiyama family behind in Japan.
The bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 does play a role in this novel, as Fuchida and eight officers inspect the city during the days right after the atomic blast. Fuchida does not contract any radiation sickness, though all the rest of his group dies. Graphic descriptions of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the famous Doolittle Raid, Midway Atoll, and other Pacific war battles are included in this book as well.
Tucson author Bennett will be self-publishing this book after years of meticulous research, so copies can be ordered through him at the book’s website www.woundedtigerbook.com. I read an advance copy and the book is due to be released on Feb. 14, 2014. Bennett is hoping to sell the rights to this novel to be made into a feature movie. He is a history buff who has written two screen plays (one being for “Wounded Tiger”), worked at a federal correctional institution in Virginia, and was a pet supply manufacturer.
12/8/13 UPDATE: KVOA Channel 4 also interviewed author Bennett: http://www.kvoa.com/news/local-author-tells-story-of-redemption-after-pearl-harbor/