Manning Kimmel of Rock Hill is using modern technology to help fight a generations-old battle with the federal government.
Kimmel, managing partner of Our Three Sons Broadcasting, the parent company of WRHI radio, has posted a five-and-a-half minute video appeal to President Bush on YouTube.com, asking the president to help clear his grandfather's name.
Kimmel's grandfather, Husband Kimmel, was the top-ranking admiral for U.S. Navy forces at Pearl Harbor at the time of the Dec. 7, 1941, surprise-attack by the Japanese. Shortly after the attack, Admiral Kimmel and his Army counterpart, Gen. Walter Short, were demoted and forced to retire. A military investigation into the attack found the two officers were "derelict in their duty," Manning Kimmel said.
However, evidence that surfaced after World War II suggests the men were not at fault, Manning Kimmel says in the video. Multiple researchers have found that a communication breakdown leading up to the attack between the officers and the Pentagon, a lack of patrol planes and other issues led to the Pearl Harbor disaster, not Kimmel's and Short's judgment, the video message states.
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"Our nation is both admired and envied for the value we place on human justice. But sometimes an injustice is permitted to stand," Manning Kimmel says on the video. "Today, I'm asking that you right one such grievous wrong. ... Mr. President, through your leadership you have demonstrated you value honor and freedom above politics. For certain, this is above politics."
The evidence was enough to compel Congress in 2000 to pass a resolution asking then-President Bill Clinton to posthumously restore Husband Kimmel's and Walter Short's highest rank. But no action was taken by the White House before Clinton left office.
"We've been trying everything we can to get this in the president's hands," Kimmel told The Herald on Friday, noting it will take a letter from the president to Congress to restore the officers' ranks.
Kimmel, who has picked up the torch since his grandfather and his father, Ned Kimmel, died, said he produced the video for DVD in 2006, the 65th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He tried to get a copy to President Bush, but so far he has been unable to put the disc in his hands.
But YouTube, a Web site that lets the public upload videos and are made available free to anyone with an Internet connection, has given Kimmel another opportunity. He hopes enough people will see the video and e-mail the White House a link to the project. If there's enough response, Kimmel thinks the president, whom he calls an "honorable man," just might log on and watch for himself.
"I'm hoping we can get a snowball effect, and it might catch someone's eyes at the White House," said Kimmel, who also is asking supporters to forward a link to the video to the president's e-mail. "This is a decision that has to be made by the commander in chief, not an adviser or some department. The commander in chief needs to know all the facts."
The video, titled "An Appeal To President Bush," had been viewed 251 times by Friday afternoon, according to YouTube.
The Kimmel family's quest has received national exposure before. In 2001, MSNBC came to Rock Hill to report on the story for its coverage of the film "Pearl Harbor," released on Memorial Day of that year.
Despite years of coming close without success, Kimmel vows to continue his efforts to place the case for his grandfather in front of a U.S. president.
"I promised my dad I'd do everything I could to get it in the president's hands," he said. "I want it to be his decision, not some damn bureaucrat's."
WANT TO WATCH?
To view Manning Kimmel's video appeal to President Bush, visit www.YouTube.com. The video is titled "An Appeal To President Bush."
For more details about the video and Kimmel's quest to clear his grandfather's name, e-mail Kimmel at firstname.lastname@example.org.