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City native's report shows sub played role in Pearl Harbor

December 07, 1999|By ANDREA ROWLAND

A Naval Reserve intelligence officer who has challenged Pearl Harbor history has roots in Hagerstown.

John Rodgaard, an image specialist with defense contractor Autometric Inc. in Springfield, Va., was the lead author in a report that argues for a Japanese midget submarine's key role in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Their contention, first announced in 1994, remains a matter of historical debate. The debate was renewed by an article in this month's edition of Naval History, published by the private U.S. Naval Institute Press in Annapolis.

Rodgaard is one of four authors of a report that concludes, based on sophisticated imaging analysis, that a long unaccounted-for midget submarine fired torpedoes during the sneak attack on Dec. 7, 1941, the reports said.

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Rodgaard, 50, graduated from North Hagerstown High School and what was then Hagerstown Junior College before entering the U.S. Navy, said his mother, Helena Rodgaard, of Hagerstown.

Rodgaard, who now lives in Germantown, Md., attended Hood College in Frederick, Md., she said.

Her son earned dual degrees from Hood while working at Mack Trucks, and is now a commander in the Naval Reserves, Helena Rodgaard said.

The Navy was a natural choice for John Rodgaard, his mother said.

"He always had a ship in his hand as a little boy," she said.

She said her son's hero was British Adm. Horatio Nelson, who was born in Helena Rodgaard's hometown of Norfolk, England, and who died during the Napoleonic Wars.

John Rodgaard "has worked very hard," his mother said.

Five years ago, he and three Autometric team members first analyzed a Dec. 7, 1941, photograph taken from a Japanese torpedo bomber, according to the Naval History article. They declared a tiny object framed by whitewater as a midget submarine.

Rodgaard and three other authors contend that an 80-foot submarine launched from a Japanese mother ship made it undetected into Pearl Harbor and fired both her torpedoes into the USS West Virginia and USS Oklahoma just prior to Japan's blitz air attack.

The authors' position is based upon sophisticated event sequencing, digital imagery and measurement analysis of the photo, and by forensic engineering evidence, according to the Naval History article.

Despite the high-tech analysis, a number of historians remain skeptical.

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