RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Please forgive Michael Wenger, a widely published historian and a technical writer at SAS , if his mind is elsewhere today.

On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, plunging the United States into World War II. And Wenger has spent much of his life exploring that battle as well as others while publishing nine books.

His “best friend” in Japan, Zenji Abe, flew in the Pearl Harbor strike force. But he like many other Pearl Harbor veterans on both sides have died. Wenger grew to know Abe, who visited Oahu for the last time a year ago. He placed a rose at the memorial of the battleship U.S. Arizona, which was destroyed in the attack.

“Most of the surviving veterans are gone now,” Wenger said sadly. Historians such as himself keep the Pearl Harbor story alive through their works.

In fact, Wenger’s biggest project to date involves the “Day opf Infamy,” as President Roosevelt described it. He is deeply involved with two other authors in a proposed three-volume history of the Pearl Harbor attack from both sides.

Wenger also wouldn’t mind talking with a game development firm about a title centered on that fateful day.

“If I was going to be an historian, I had to write, not fiddle,” Wenger said in an interview. An avid board game player of classic Avanol Hill games in the 60s, he put aside moist of the game playing as an adult. But the idea of a video game has appeal.

“I think it would be a great thing to create a game,” he said. “I’d love to do that.”

Back in 2001 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the attack, Wenger and several other historians were recruited by the History Channel to participate in a “what if” scenario about Pearl Harbor. The “war game” matched Wenger and two other historians as commanders of the Japanese fleet and three others, including a retired admiral, to lead the U.S. forces. Some of the game was computerized to support various scenarios, but much of the recreation was still manual – thus time consuming.

“There still is a lot of interest in that Web site,” Wenger said. “No one had ever attempted to do something like that.”

The “what if” scenario was built around the Americans getting advanced warning of the Pearl Harbor attack. Much of the American fleet was able to get out of the Harbor, but the team including Wenger found it. The scenario led to several U.S. ships being sunk at sea rather than in the shallow harbor where several were salvaged and returned to service.

Video games have come a long way since 2001, and a few titles about the war in the Pacific have been published. However, Wenger, who is a Civil War re-enactor, could add much additional information for anyone wanting to create a new title.

“I have spent the last six, seven years just living in the National Archives,” Wenger said, adding that he has found much material that has not been used by other writers over the years. “We have access to a lot of unused material in Japan, too – specifically regarding contingency plans in case the U.S. fleet wasn’t in the harbor. I’d not seen this anywhere.”

If a Pearl Harbor game project is created, Wenger said it could help preserve the Pearl Harbor memory.

“You’re getting further and further away from that day,” he said. “It’s not surprising that the collective memory is fading, plus little about Pearl Harbor is taught in schools.”

Today, on this the 66th anniversary of the attack, take time yourself to remember Pearl Harbor. It is something our nation must never forget – video games or not.