Yamamoto Isoroku (1884-1943) was a Japanese Naval Marshal General and the commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet during World War II, a graduate of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy and a student at Harvard University (1919–1921).
Yamamoto held several important posts in the Imperial Japanese Navy, and undertook many of its changes and reorganizations, especially its development of naval aviation. He was the commander-in-chief during the decisive early years of the Pacific War and so was responsible for major battles such as Pearl Harbor and Midway. He died during an inspection tour of forward positions in the Solomon Islands when his aircraft (a Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" bomber) was shot down during an ambush by American P-38 Lightning fighter planes. His death was a major blow to Japanese military morale during World War II.
Yamamoto was born as Takano Isoroku in Nagaoka, Niigata. His father was Takano Sadayoshi, an intermediate samurai of the Nagaoka Domain. "Isoroku" is an old Japanese term meaning "56"; the name referred to his father's age at Isoroku's birth.
In 1916, Isoroku was adopted into the Yamamoto family (another family of former Nagaoka samurai) and took the Yamamoto name. It was a common practice for Japanese families lacking sons to adopt suitable young men in this fashion to carry on the family name. In 1918 Isoroku married Mihashi Reiko, with whom he had two sons and two daughters.