Let’s take some time to remember, or learn, about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Pearl Harbor, on the Island of O’ahu, Hawaii, (then a territory of
the United States) was attacked by the Japanese Imperial Navy, at
approximately 8:00 A.M., Sunday morning, December 7, 1941. The surprise
attack had been conceived by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. The striking
force of 353 Japanese aircraft was led by Commander Mitsuo Fuchida.
There had been no formal declaration of war. In fact, Japanese
diplomats were in negotiations with America just prior to the attack.
Approximately 100 ships of the U.S. Navy were present that morning,
consisting of battleships, destroyers, cruisers and various support
Luckily over half the U.S. Pacific fleet was out to sea, including the carriers.
Numerous mistakes were made by the U.S. leading up to the attack, but it was Yamamoto who made the biggest mistake.
Japan attacked methodically and with deadly efficiency. Bombers,
torpedo planes, dive-bombers, all covered by Mitsubushi Zero fighter
planes, took out U.S. air power, and then hit the battleships on
“battleship row,” sinking or severely damaging every one. The worst
casualty, the U.S.S. Arizona, went down in ten minutes with thousands
of sailors on board.
Despite this phenomenal success, Yamamoto did not achieve total
victory because three key targets, the U.S. Aircraft Carriers, had been
out on maneuvers. Going in Yamamoto had expected to loose 30% of his
entire force, ships included, yet he lost nothing larger than a midget
sub, and only a handful of aircraft. In a critical, and fortuitous,
error in judgment, Yamamoto decided to take his winnings and leave the
table, without the carriers. All the battleships except the Arizona
would be salvaged and returned to action during the war. More
importantly, he left the oil storage facilities undamaged, which
allowed the U.S. to continue to operate out of Hawaii. Japan also could
not foresee that an outraged American people would be galvanized and
determined like nothing imagined.
Today we remember all those that lost their lives on that auspicious day…
Links for your day of remembrance:
Listen to President Rosevelt’s Speech to Congress on Dec. 8, 1941
The History Place has the timeline and photos.
A survivor, Marine Corporal E.C. Nightingale, who was on the Arizona remembers that fateful day.
The Essential Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor Remembered
features a historical overview and special image selection on the Pearl
Harbor raid, chosen from the more comprehensive coverage featured in
the following pages, and those linked from them.