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We follow a crew of explorers, led by legendary Chicago restaurateur Richard Portillo, to Bougainville, New Guinea to the northern Solomon Islands, Southwest Pacific) as they trek through dense jungle and deep mud to visit the remote site of the plane wreck of famed Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s crashed Betty Bomber. Admiral Yamamoto is best known as the architect of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and Japan’s failed battle at Midway in June of 1942. He was also openly opposed to a war with the United States from the outset and against any alliance with Germany and Italy in WWII. However, no one in Japan prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor listened to his warnings, so he did what any admiral or general would do in his position, Yamamoto fought for his country despite his true feelings the war could not be won.
Allied intelligence was able to decipher the Japanese naval code and identify that Yamamoto’s plane was headed to Bougainville on April 18, 1943. His bomber was intercepted and shot down by American P-38 fighter planes. President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the final ok on the assassination attempt. It was a bold decision that changed the outcome of the war in the Pacific.
The United States-based explorers visited Yamamoto’s Betty Bomber crash site, guided by researchers, historians and local natives. While on Bougainville historian Andy Giles made an incredible discovery in the mud at the site of Yamamoto’s plane wreckage in the exact area where he was ejected from his plane and where his plane seat and body were found: A gold tooth. Could it be Admiral Yamamoto’s tooth discovered after 76 years? Only people of means in Japan in the 1930s could afford gold teeth.
Trips to Bougainville, Hawaii, Florida, and Japan bring viewers inside the story, including a visit to the Yamamoto museum in the admiral’s home city of Nagaoka, Japan. You’ll also hear a rare interview from Admiral Yamamoto’s grandson conducted by our film crew in Japan, as well as interviews with several of the world’s leading historians on the Pacific war. The historians assembled also discuss and challenge the decade’s old myth of how Admiral Yamamoto’s body was discovered by the Japanese and its condition following the ambush by American P-38 fighters. It’s a challenge to history as it has been written for over seven decades. Did the Admiral die a glorious death as the Japanese claims or was his assassination so gruesome that the autopsy and findings were manipulated to preserve his god-like persona?