Comments | Meridian Magazine
Take a grandchild to Africa - $3,000 off - GRAND AFRICA SAFARI

Sign up for our newsletter


Signed up, but still not getting our newsletter? Click here.


December 3, 2022

Comments | Return to Story

azJuly 21, 2018

Researching this, I wanted to find support for this story. So I looked first at simply what was feasible. While there are variations on this story, the most common versions I've seen includes: * returning to ship, had 1 bomb "left" * wanted to strafe the temple Three types of aircraft were used on the attack on Pearl Harbor: 1) Zero - the Mitsubitshi A6M Zero could carry a bomb, but for Dec. 7, 1941, there were no bombs loaded on Zeros. Machineguns only that day. So the Zero could not be the aircraft in the story. 2) "Kate" bomber - the Nakajima B5N bomber is a 3-person crew carrier bomber. Not very big, but was loaded with 2 or 6 bombs. But that version of the "Kate" did not have forward "strafing" machineguns, just a single rear machinegun. So the "Kate" could not be the aircraft in the story. 3) "Val" Divebombers - the Aichi D3A's were quite effective against ships during the war. The "Val" had forward-facing machineguns, so it could strafe. The "Val" could also carry 2 smaller 132lb bombs, so it could have a bomb "left." However for that day at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese loaded each "Val" with 1 bomb (550lb). Since each variation of the story I've heard has an aircraft with: * multiple bombs (and one "left" that didn't drop) * forward facing "strafing" machineguns It doesn't appear this story is supported. This would mean we would alter the story a little that the pilot (and the co-pilot as there's 2 crew in the "Val") did not drop any bombs at their military targets for some reason. Conclusion on the "Val" divebomber - it doesn't fit the story as told. We would have to change the story for the "Val" to fit. ----- The people side: Many have talked about the consistency of the Japanese soldiers, and yes, that was the case. * no civilian targets were bombed * Some Zeros did machinegun (strafe) several neighborhoods, cars, and even a golf course. It was the exception, but the machinegunning part did take place some. It doesn't make the story impossible, just more of an exception and the retelling of the story was a little bit off. ----- I don't find the story to be impossible, but it would have to be a slightly different version of the story. And the story did vary. Particularly Bob Kahawaii's story. It's been a lot of years. It was one of the most chaotic days a person could experience. It's certainly not a story that I would go retelling as something that happened as I don't have near enough plausibility to pass it off as true. It might be true. But I don't have such info or witness that it is.

Ben H.December 9, 2017

There are two reasons I doubt this story 1. There is no record that any civilian targets were attacked during the Pearl Harbor raid. 2. The flight path did not go over Laie as there was both functioning radar and flack near the town at the time. The bombers would have been instructed to avoid the area.

Shapiro's causeOctober 22, 2017

If I were a Japanese pilot and I wanted to take out major targets of the US military in Hawaii, why would i not want to bomb a LARGE WHITE BUILDING THAT STICKS OUT LIKE AN ENORMOUS THUMB??? Take out that big White Building!!!!! Sorry to disappoint skeptics but I am sure the Japanese bombers, at least one of them, tried to bomb the BIG WHITE BUILDING THAT STICKS OUT LIKE AN ENORMOUS THUMB.

David LemonDecember 8, 2016

In the late 40s I was sealed to my parents in the Hawaiian Temple.. Wish I could remember it. I and my brother were to young.

Chuck AllenSeptember 6, 2015

I wouldn't dismiss the story out of hand. The second attack wave approached from the northwest on that side of the island and Zeros were part of the attack that focused on the Bellows and Kaneohoe Bay air fields on their way to Pearl Harbor. It's likely that a Zero pilot would have used the temple as a navigating point during the attack (the Japanese had detailed maps of the whole island and its main buildings.) and may have decided to attack it on the way back to the carrier. It shouldn't be the basis of anyone's testimony, but it is plausible.

Mary KammeyerSeptember 3, 2015

my great aunt Elsie Belliston personally told me this story was true. She was there and the pilot personally told her he passed out each time he flew over "that white building" He finally gave up and dropped his bombs elsewhere. After the war, he went back to find out what the building was and joined the church. He told my great aunt the story because her husband, Albert Belliston, was Pres of the temple at the time.

Mark & Lynda JanssonSeptember 2, 2015

In 1983, my wife and I visited Hawaii. One of our treasured experiences was attending a session at the Hawaii Temple and then spending the day at the Polynesian Cultural Center. The session was very small with only one other couple. Afterwards, as we left, one of the Temple workers, a tall, distinguished looking native Hawaiian with striking silver white hair, walked with us. We chatted and he shared a moment with us we will never forget. He said, " I was here when the plane came." I asked who he was speaking about. He said it was the Japanese. It had red circles on the wings. He told us the story much as you related it above. He said he saw it circle several times, like they could not see the Temple, then flew off. I asked him his name. He said, "I am Brother Kahawaii." I have never forgotten that name, never forgotten that moment in front of the Temple...

AllenSeptember 2, 2015

I have read a copy of the actual mission journal pages of Elder Stout. Based on my experiences as a missionary in Japan I believe that these pages are not a forgery or fake. Elder Stout's account is real. Whether he remembered the details perfectly from his conversation with the Japanese man, I believe the gist of the story.

meSeptember 2, 2015

Readers may want to check out this article by Mormon Channel. Pretty relevant to this conversation.

LoloSeptember 2, 2015

It's sad to me that this story is not believed. It could have happened, and I would err on the side of believing reputable righteous men. It doesn't hurt anyone to believe or share such a story, just as you would share anyone's written testimony. There are guidelines we follow in teaching at church and whether this is a true story or not, it wouldn't be appropriate to use in a lesson, but it is certainly okay to believe and share otherwise. I choose to believe it. This is not just an empty building. The most important work is done in these temples, hundreds of times a day. In an eternal perspective, your endowment is more important than the number of days you have in this life. Maybe all the spirits who were waiting to have their endowment the next open day were the ones who were protecting it. I hate that people here think that they have studied the history enough "know" that this is not possible. Just because there are no documented details about how a jet could have ended up in the vicinity of the temple doesn't mean it didn't happen.

GreatscotSeptember 2, 2015

Follow the logic trail. Several witnesses from several viewpoints - it is normal that details vary in the story. Evidence that civilian targets were hit by both Japanese and friendly fire. Sightings of Japanese planes in places other than the route that most were known to have used. Evidence that a Japanese zero has both a machine gun and bomb capability. The contrary evidence about where the plane should have been, or what the pilot should have targeted is too speculative if we try to assume that it applied to every pilot or plane. I would want to see some real evidence that it didn't happen in the face of so much eye witness testimony. At the moment, the evidence favors the witnesses. Just sayin. :)

JohnSeptember 1, 2015

The planes, both coming and going would have passed over the general area of the temple. As for the type of plane: some of kates were equipped with type 97 machine guns the same as the vals. Most likely it was neither of these planes. It would make sense that in this story it was a zero. The a6m (zero) did in fact have the capability to carry a small 250 lb bomb. After facing very little resistance by way of air power, a zero pilot would have been strafing and possibly bombing whatever he could on the way out (as his 'job' to protect other planes was minimal). It can be assumed that it is plausible that this story was true. Facts are there that support the story.

BHSeptember 1, 2015

I'm with Joseph Lyon and Kent Budge on this one. I have read the story before and find it implausible based on the Japanese planes flightpath returning to their carriers. They did not go through Laie.

CraigSeptember 1, 2015

Myron, a military barracks is a military target even if civilians are living there. Please do some research on the attack on pearl harbor. Facts are so much more interesting than anecdotes. Also, the main issue at hand is not whether God could protect the temple but more about if a Japanese pilot would even target such a building. There were still many undamaged ships in the harbor and it makes no sense to leave those alone to attack a temple on the other side of the island. God could certainly have protected the temple, but the chances of a pilot targeting it is very small.

Michael NeubauerSeptember 1, 2015

I agree 100% with Jeff Thomas. Like him, I have read extensively on the Pacific War in general and Pearl Harbor in particular. The Japanese attack plan was very specific and the harbor and surrounding environs were loaded with targets. I cannot imagine a Japanese pilot who had missed his target not going back and trying it again and again. It's what pilots are trained to do. I would note that there was a good amount of damage in Honolulu along with some civilian casualties, but much of that was caused by US antiaircraft fire. In short, with due respect to those telling this story, I doubt very much it happened this way.

Myron JanesSeptember 1, 2015

If the targets were only military, how come my families residence was strafed. It was located the the NCO housing at Scofield Barracks. My mother was pregnant with me and my 2 brothers and sisters were there. My brother was about 8 years old and told me how he went out after the all clear signal and saw the bullets had hit his house. I believe God can do anything He wants for anybody and I do believe this story.

CraigSeptember 1, 2015

The attack happened on a Sunday so the temple would have been closed and there would have been no casualties if it was hit. Why did God protect a simple building but allowed hundreds of innocent people to die just miles away (we were not at war at the time of the attack). The Japanese also did not bomb any civilian targets on the island. The only explosions in civilian areas were from 5-inch US anti-aircraft shells, basically friendly fire. So the odds that a single pilot would choose this one civilian building as a target when there are still many targets still at pearl, is extremely low. Yes the story make you feel good but it is probably not true. Even if it were true, it shows that God cares more about an empty building than hundreds of innocent lives.

Michael NeubauerSeptember 1, 2015

I agree with Mr. Thomas. The idea that a Japanese bomber pilot, flying in formation and with a pre-assigned target, would end up in the middle of nowhere to consider bombing a building is ludicrous. I have read very extensively on the subject of Pearl Harbor, including the extremely detailed Japanese attack plan. I cannot believe that a Japanese pilot whose bomb failed to drop would not have turned about and taken as many passes as it required to hit a target of military value. File this under "Nice to Have".

Jeff ThomasSeptember 1, 2015

I am something of a military historian and free lance writer. I've studied WWII in the Pacific extensively. Put simply, I do not believe this could have happened. Throughout the war the Japanese navy was so focused on targets of immediate military value that its submarines did not attack merchant ships (unlike the German U-boats). Japanese captains did not consider such ships honorable targets worthy of their attention. I can not imagine one of their pilots concentrating his attention a building when the whole US Navy was sitting at anchor a couple of miles away. I'm also a former Jehovah's Witnesses and I've heard a boatload of similar stories about my old religion. Google "JW urban legends."

SteveSeptember 1, 2015

Anyone who thinks this might be true needs to read the detailed history of Pearl Harbor. The Japanese didn't attack civilian targets with a few limited exceptions, mostly a vehicle that was strafed. The civilian injuries were mostly from U.S. anti-aircraft fire. More importantly, as noted above, the single manned aircraft were the Zeros and they didn't carry bombs. Further, the route for some of the Japanese aircraft was near the Laie (but not over) on the way in but they took a different route out. The story fails to meet the well-documented facts.

Narda wilcoxAugust 31, 2015

We were in a testimony meeting in Lihue about 20 years ago when someone told this story. He had heard it related first hand from the pilot. The story is very consistent with the details you related. Yes, I believe it to be accurate.

Can BushmanAugust 31, 2015

My father was a Japanese speaking missionary in Hawaii during the attack on Pearl Harbor. He has many stories of those days including observing an attack on Kahului, Maui by a Japanese submarine the week after Pearl Harbor. He was on Maui during the Pearl Harvor attack. My father also to,d this same story about the temple as it was told to him by a Japanese temple worker some years later, Frank Suzuki. My father wrote up that story for us. In regards to Yamamoto's orders not to attack non-military targets, I'm not so sure about that. My father claims that Japanese planes unloaded their machine guns up and down the streets in residential neighborhood's as they departed the island. To further prove that, I have a phosphorus bullet to this day shot from a Japanese plane that my father dug out of the door jam of a members front door to his home from the attack. I also have a bomb fragment from the Japanese submarine that attacked Kahului where they indiscriminately fired into the city. They hit a chicken coop, the sugar train railroad and the juice room at the pineapple plantation. In turn, the U.S. Military sunk the Japanese submarine near the Kahului harbor. He watched it sink.

Michael A PriceAugust 31, 2015

Stories like this should not be accepted by the church members. It is merely a feel good story. The Holy Spirit will not, indeed can NOT, bear witness to anyone that something is true, when it is fiction. Paul H Dunn was severely chastised for embellishing his stories. President Hinckley felt compelled to announce in General Conference that the church movie "The Mountain of the Lord" contained a falsehood, inasmuch the name "Utah" does not really mean "Top of the Mountain." The Japanese pilots attacked military targets. PERIOD I for one do not believe the story. We should stick to the well documented miracles of our time and the miracles described in the Scriptures.

KawikaAugust 31, 2015

I lived on Oahu from 1980-1995. I can't tell you how many dozens of times I heard this story and different variations of it. Having worked at Pearl Harbor, there were many aircraft that didn't function correctly that day. There are numerous accounts of planes flying overhead with bombs that were never dropped, guns that jammed etc. But the truth is, why would this one lone plane break so far from the target and his squadron formation to seek out a non-military target in a more desolate part of the island? It makes no sense. Paul H Dunn had a lot of store also, so did Gene R Cook....we all believed them at one time, but ....the "Glory of God is intelligence"...we have evolved and we know better.

Mike PotterAugust 31, 2015

Of course it can be plausible . Look to the Cookeville miracle that happened in 1986. The Lord will protect whomever or whatever ever he wants. Especially his Saints.

Doug BrinleyAugust 31, 2015

I lived on Oahu from 1968-1972. I served on the high council with Paul Andrus. That was the first time I heard the story and knowing that Pres. Andrus was the mission president at the time, he was convinced of the truthfulness of the story. As was said, there are those who believe the story and those who have serious doubts. Won't that be fun someday to see what really happened.

Debra PiepgrassAugust 31, 2015

I read an article online with quotes from the pilot with his name giving this same story and with his picture.

Riley MoffatAugust 31, 2015

In researching this story for the book "Gathering to Laie" (see page 140) I of course consulted the published articles of my colleagues Ken Baldridge, Lance Chase, and Alf Pratte and also talked to Paul Andrus who has strong feelings on the issue. I also interviewed other Laie kama'aina who were there on December 7th such as Charlie Barenaba, Bill Kanahele and Tom Nakayama who said they saw the plane to go along with Bob Kahawai's notarized testimony. It is truly an interesting story and I have to wonder why anyone would want to make it up and stand behind it for over 70 years.

BarbaraAugust 31, 2015

I heard this story in 1972 while attending my Doctrine and Covenants class at Ricks College. Sister Mary Hess, our professor, heard this story from the former Japanese pilot himself who spoke at an LDS Church Fireside in Hawaii while Sister Hess was serving there on a mission. She said he didn't bomb the Temple BECAUSE HE COULD NOT SEE IT. She said the Lord veiled his eyes. He later joined the church as a result of this experience and told his story to all who would listen.

Barbara GrimshawAugust 31, 2015

I attended Ricks College [now BYU-Idaho] in 1972 where Sister Mary Hess, my Doctrine & Covenants teacher, told that same story. She listened to the Japanese pilot who recounted his story in an LDS church fireside Sister Hess attended in Hawaii while she was serving there on her mission. The most important part about this story she related to us, her students, in class that day was that the Japanese pilot kept flying over the Temple numerous times, but did not bomb it BECAUSE HE COULD NOT SEE IT. Sister Hess said that the Lord veiled his eyes. From what she said in class, this man, after the war was over, joined the church and told his story to all who would listen.

Rick StoutAugust 31, 2015

Robert Stout was my father. He passed four years ago. This account was written in his mission journal; his original journal page was sent to the Hawaiian Temple in the 1980s when President Richard Clark presided. (He had called Dad and requested the copy). I have a second, hand-written account by Dad written a couple of years later. I have heard him tell the story a couple of times as well. It is more or less as reported in this article. My brother Tim met a man from Hawaii, who as a child saw a plane circle the temple, essentially confirming to him (Tim) the story of a Japanese plane as described in my father's story. In my father's account, he records that the pilot man as originally saying "keko" when asked by my father if they could initially enter his house. His term is vague in the Japanese language, as it can mean either (1) I'm ok / not interested, or (2) its ok (for you to continue). His referencing of this makes one wonder (if not familiar with Japanese) if my father understood enough to enter / understand the rest of the conversation. Regarding the comments about "no Zeros" in Pearl Harbor. I do no know, but currently on WikiPedia (with references) is a table showing two waves of Japanese planes during the Pearl Harbor assault by the Japanese. In the first wave, group 3, there were supposedly 43 A6M Mitsubishi "Zeros" for "air control and strafing." Are these single pilot planes? I assume so. In the Second wave, group 3, there were supposedly 35 such plans. Of these 43 + 36, 3 were aborted or didn't take off. ( Again there are references for this table's data. Haven't studied them closely. I don't know what if anything happened, but now you know what I do.

No AuthorAugust 31, 2015

The question, of course, is not about whether Robert Stout is telling the truth about what he was told. The question is whether the man he tracted out can be trusted in his story. That is why researchers have asked is this plausible?

Toni LuaAugust 31, 2015

I had heard Uncle Bob Kahawaii's version of this store in the early 70s while living in Laie. When the story from the Japanese man confirmed it we were not surprised. Uncle Bob was a a good honest man and we knew he was telling the truth. So yes it happened.

B HawleyAugust 31, 2015

I don't know if this story is true, But I heard it many years ago and since I know that all things are possible with the Lord, why not? He loves all his children and He loves His houses. They are dedicated to Him, why then, would He not protect them.

DaveAugust 31, 2015

Of course it isn't true. The temple is in the corner of the island farthest from every target. Why would he save a bomb while hitting military targets in hopes of finding a juicy target of opportunity on the way home? Why are there no details of the plane? Was it a fighter? Dive bomber? Torpedo bomber? Horizontal bomber? Why is he wasting a ton of fuel to go back over and over, then to return and try again later?

Joseph LyonAugust 31, 2015

The Japanese planes that attached Pearl Harbor that carried bombs were the "Kates", with a pilot, observer and rear gunner and "Vals", a dive bomber with pilot and gunner. I am not aware that any "Zekes" (the famous Zero) carried bombs for the attack. This story suggests a single seat aircraft (a Zeke) and so does not fit the known facts about which aircraft were carrying bombs. The Kates carried either a torpedo or an armor piecing bomb designed to sink a ship. They also had no forward firing guns, only a single gun behind the pilot to and manned by a separate gunner.

Kent G. BudgeAugust 31, 2015

I remain deeply suspicious of this story. The Japanese pilots at Pearl Harbor had strict orders from Yamamoto to attack only military targets, and it is not terribly plausible that a pilot would have a bomb "left over" to lob at a random large building. There was no lack of targets at the harbor. Unless the story can be better validated, it is better not to use it. I am doubtful of the value of miracle stories as a tool of conversion in any case; we already have the much more important miracle story of the Book of Mormon, which should be the centerpiece of our missionary work. Remember Paul Dunn.



    Daily news, articles, videos and podcasts sent straight to your inbox.