Whatever Happened To . . .

An update on past news

Messenger bringing Pearl news in Kalihi

QUESTION: What ever happened to the messenger who delivered the telegram too late on Pearl Harbor Day?

ANSWER: Tadao Fuchikami, now 79, still lives in Kalihi. He's retired as a civilian employee from Hickam Air Force Base.

Fuchikami delivered the now famous telegram, warning of the impending Japanese attack, to the Fort Shafter message center Dec. 7, 1941.

Then 24, he had a temporary job delivering telegrams by motorcycle. The telegram - through no fault of Fuchikami's - arrived after the attack started.

"At about 7:30 a.m. I went in the office and checked in," he said years later. "I was given a lot of messages to deliver. I made deliveries on Vineyard Street and in Kalihi. I could see columns of smoke coming up from Pearl Harbor as I headed for Fort Shafter.

"The message I delivered there was just like any other. There was nothing on the envelope to show it was special. After that, I made deliveries in the Navy housing. I had a hard time getting back to the office through the police roadblocks."

Fuchikami said he didn't realize he'd carried a very important message to Fort Shafter until FBI agents questioned him later on details of delivery. He also said he didn't know the exact message until about 10 years after Pearl Harbor Day when he learned it from a news story. "But I had a feeling about it," he said.

He was hired in 1969 as a technical adviser for 20th Century-Fox's documentary epic, "Tora! Tora! Tora!", the story of Pearl Harbor Day.

Ever wonder what happened to a person, event or issue that has been in the news? We'll try to find out for you if you call the City Desk at 525-8640, email to citydesk@starbulletin.com or write us at P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802. Whatever happened to . . . runs Wednesdays.

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