“A Date Which Will Live in Infamy” [Pearl Harbor]

12/07/2008 07:00:00 AM

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023Today is a dark day in history for the United States.  Pearl Harbor day.  And I am proud to say that my father was in the Army, stationed in Hawaii at Oahu as a MP, at this time.  No, he didn’t talk about it much, in fact I only have one memory of him ever really talking about it.  It was very short and put in basically two lines.  “It was hell…,” and after a long pause, “I should have died that day.”  I never asked more about it, because when he said it, he got a very ugly, angry look on his face, and I will never forget how scared I was when he said it.  [NOTE:  No he is not available for comment.  Please do not email me for more information.  I would hope that you would respect what he has gone through.]

On Sunday, December 7th, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack against the U.S. Forces stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  By planning this attack on a Sunday morning, the Japanese commander Admiral Nagumo hoped to catch the entire fleet in port.  As luck would have it, the Aircraft Carriers and one of the Battleships were not in port.  The USS Enterprise was returning from Wake Island, where it had just delivered some aircraft.  The USS Lexington was ferrying aircraft to Midway, and the USS Saratoga and USS Colorado were undergoing repairs in the US.

In spite of the latest intelligence reports about the missing aircraft carriers, Admiral Nagumo decided to continue the attack with his force of six carriers and 423 aircraft.  At a range of 230 miles north of Oahu, he launched the first wave of a two-wave attack.  Beginning at 0600, Pacific time, his first wave consisted of 183 fighters and torpedo bombers which struck at the fleet in Pearl Harbor and the airfields of Hickam, Kaneohe and Ewa.  The second strike, launched at 0715 hours, consisted of 167 aircraft, which again struck at the same targets.

0743 a message was received that a Japanese submarine had been sunk one mile off the Pearl Harbor entrance.  At 0745 bombs exploding and planes heard and sighted attacking Ford Island hangers.  at 0750 the USS Oklahoma was struck by 3 torpedoes.  0753 hours the first wave came in consisting of 40 B5N2 “Kate” torpedo bombers, 51 Aichi D3A1 “Val” dive bombers, 50 high altitude bombers and 43 Zeros struck airfields and Pearl Harbor.  At 0755 the first torpedo hits the USS Raleigh.  Battleship row is then hit at 0757am.  At 0810 a Japanese Type 97 Attack Bomber (later coded KATE) drops a bomb that struck the USS Arizona between the No. 1 and No.2 turret.  This bomb was a converted armor piercing artillery shell that ignited the Arizona’s forward magazine.    Within the next hour, the second wave arrived and continued to attack.

Newsreel of the attack.

Incredible video of the USS Arizona being hit.

Additional original video of the attack.

(Click on any picture to view a larger image.)

This is from the opening seconds of the attack.  A torpedo exploding against the USS Oklahoma can be seen.  The Japanese plane that launched the torpedo can be seen peeling off after making its run.  Another can be seen just left of the hammer head crane about to start its attack run.  This image was taken by the Japanese, and was later captured at the end of the war.


In this image you can see the torpedo wake and submarine from which it was fired, being shot at Battleship row towards the USS Vestal.  (L-R) USS Nevada (BB-36), USS Arizona (BB-39), USS Vestal (AR-4) [outboard], USS Tennessee (BB-43) [inboard], USS West Virginia (BB-48) [outboard], USS Maryland (BB-46) [inboard], USS Oklahoma (BB-37) [outboard], USS Neosho (AO-23), USS California (BB-44).  This image was taken by the Japanese and was later captured at the end of the war.ww2125

Overall view of surprise attack shows smoke pouring from crippled battleship USS Arizona (center) and other damaged or sinking ships as well as US antiaircraft fire and Japanese planes.  The photograph looks SW from the hills behind the harbor.  The large column of smoke in the lower right center is from the burning USS Arizona (BB-39).  Smoke somewhat further to the left is from the destroyers Shaw (DD-373), Cassin (DD-372) and Downes (DD-375), in drydocks at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard.


USS Arizona exploding after being hit in the magazine.


The forward superstructure and Number Two 14”/45 triple gun turret of the sunken USS Arizona (BB-39), afire after the raid.  The foremast is leaning as a result of the collapse of the hull structure below its front leg, following the explosion of the ship’s forward magazine.


Destroyer USS Shaw exploding after being hit.


Destroyer USS Shaw exploding.  The USS Nevada can be seen heading to shore.


Destroyer USS Shaw burning after being hit. 


Smoke pouring from wreckage of US battleships damaged or sunk during the attack. (L-R) USS West Virginia, heavily damaged; USS Tennessee, damaged; USS Arizona, sunk.


Smoke pouring from wrecked American warships including (L-R) the battleships USS West Virginia and USS Tennessee.


American battleships USS West Virginia and USS Tennessee surrounded in smoke and flames following the attack of Japanese forces.


Fireboat hoses attempting to put out the fire on the USS West Virginia.


Burning ships in drydocks.


A view of “Battleship Row” during or immediately after the raid.  USS West Virginia (BB-48) is at the right sunk alongside the USS Tennessee (BB-43), with oil fires shrouding them both.  The capsized USS Oklahoma (BB-37) is at the left, alongside USS Maryland (BB-46). 


Smoke pouring from sinking battleship USS California which was attacked during the raid; capsized bulk of USS Oklahoma visible on the extreme right.


American battleship USS Nevada (R) burning.


USS Nevada beached at Pearl Harbor.


USS Utah (AG-16) rolling to port 15 minutes after being hit.


A flooded drydock pen containing damaged destroyer USS Cassin laying partly submerged and leaning against the destroyer USS Downes.


Pearl Harbor aftermath.


When it was over, the U.S. losses were:


USA:  218 KIA, 364 WIA.
USN:  2,008 KIA, 710 WIA.
USMC:  109 KIA, 69 WIA.
Civilians:  68 KIA, 35 WIA.
TOTAL:  2,403 KIA, 1,178 WIA
Entire Casualty List


188 Aircraft destroyed, 92 USN and 92 U.S. Army Air Corps.


USS Arizona (BB-39):  Total loss when a bomb hit her magazine.
USS Oklahoma (BB-37):  Total loss when she capsized and sunk in the harbor.
USS California (BB-44):  Sunk at her berth.  Later raised and repaired.
USS West Virginia (BB-48):  Sunk at her berth.  Later raised and repaired.
USS Nevada (BB-36):  Beached to prevent her sinking.  Later repaired.
USS Pennsylvania (BB-38):  Light damage.
USS Maryland (BB-46):  Light damage.
USS Tennessee (BB-43): Light damage.
USS Utah (AG-16):  Sunk


USS New Orleans (CA-32):  Light damage.
USS San Francisco (CA-38):  Light damage.
USS Detroit (CL-8):  Light damage.
USS Raleigh (CL-7):  Heavily damaged, but repaired.
USS Helena (CL-50):  Light damage.
USS Honolulu (CL-48):  Light damage.


USS Downes (DD-375):  Destroyed, parts salvaged.
USS Cassin (DD-372):  Destroyed, parts salvaged.
USS Shaw (DD-373):  Very heavy damage.
USS Helm (DD-388):  Light damage.


USS Ogala (CM-4):  Sunk, but later raised and repaired.


USS Curtis (AV-4):  Severely damaged, but repaired.


USS Vestal (AR-4):  Severely damaged, but repaired.


USS Sotoyomo (YT-9):  Sunk, but later raised and repaired.



It was the following day, December 8th, that President Roosevelt gave his infamous “Day of Infamy” speech to Congress.  Below is video of President Roosevelt giving that speech.



As a result of the damage to the USS Arizona, it now rests in about 40 feet of water and is a national memorial to those who died that day.  Inside her, 1,070 men rest at the bottom of the harbor, encased in the USS Arizona’s hull.

  The resulting explosion of the USS Arizona resulted in a fire that burned for two and a half days, virtually cremating every man on board.  Out of a crew of 1,511 only 334 survived.  Due to the immense fire, only 107 crewmen were positively identified.  The remaining 1,070 casualties were placed into three categories:  (1) Bodies that were never found; (2) Some bodies were removed from the ship during salvage operations.  These remains were severely dismembered or partially cremated, making identification impossible as DNA testing was unheard of in 1941.  These bodies were placed in temporary mass graves, and later moved and reburied and marked as unknowns, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) in 1949; (3) Bodies located in the aft (rear) portion of the ship.  These remains could have been recovered, but were left in the ship due to their identifiable condition, indication most crew members died from the concussion from the massive explosion.

In the US Navy’s known history, there has never been a ship that has taken so many of its crew down with her. 

MORE INFORMATION on December 7th, 2008.  Please note, these pages are slow loading today.



“War Comes to America”.  This is a 1 hour documentary on Veoh.  It is seen on this page is a five minute preview of the movie.  To view the entire movie, you will need to download the movie, which is 530 MB.  It is assumed this movie is in public domain as the movie has been on Veoh for over two years.

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