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Captain Joseph J. Rocherford USN

Rear Admiral Donald Showers

 

Rear Admiral Donald "Mac" Showers

Less than a year prior to the Battle of Midway, retired Rear Adm. Donald "Mac" Showers had been commissioned on Sept. 12, 1941 as an Ensign. Soon after his commission, he received orders to Pearl Harbor's code breakers. One of very few code breakers, Showers was assigned to Station Hypo under the command of Cmdr. James Rochefort. By the spring of 1942, Rochefort's staff, which included Showers, were making positive strides toward deciphering the Japanese Navy's crucial next move.

About that time, Japanese intercepts began to make references to a pending operation in which the objective was designated as "AF", but not everyone was convinced. Showers was a key witness to the history, in fact the conversation regarding the significance of "AF" between Rochefort and Cmdr. Jasper Holmes took place at his desk. Both Rochefort and Holmes knew they needed to convince Adm. Chester Nimitz and Washington that the Japanese may be targeting Midway. Both believed that "AF" signified Midway based upon his staff's earlier deductions that the "A" designators were assigned to locations in the Hawaiian Islands.

Rochefort's staff assisted in drafting a naval message, in the clear, indicating that Midway's installation's water distillation plant had suffered serious damage and that fresh water was needed. Shortly after the transmission, an intercepted Japanese intelligence report indicated that "AF" was short of water - which satisfactorily alleviated any doubt.

Due to the cryptologic achievements of Rochefort and his staff, including Showers, enabled Nimitz to know when the attack on Midway would commence. Armed with this crucial information, he was able to get his severely outgunned, but determined force in position in time.