The Bombing Of Pearl Harbor
A brief overview of the events that took place at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7th, 1941.
Before December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was not a household word. Although the United States government
had exclusive use of the inlet on the Hawaiian island of O'ahu, since 1887, few outside the military had heard of it. Pearl Harbor lies about six miles west of the city of Honolulu.
But, the course of American history was forever changed on that date. The Japanese, in a surprise maneuver,
sent a striking force of 353 aircraft and submarines to attack. About 100 ships of the US Navy were present that
morning. At the time of the attack, the US was not at war with Japan and had recently been in close discussions with
high-ranking Japanese officials. Hence, the offensive was not expected.
Eight American battleships and thirteen other naval vessels were sunk or badly damaged. Almost 200 American
aircraft were destroyed and approximately 3000 naval and military personnel were killed or wounded. The attack
marked the entrance of Japan into the war on the side of Germany and Italy, while the US entered on the Allied side.
All of the ships, with the exception of the US Arizona, Utah and Oklahoma were salvaged and later saw action in
At the exact same time, nearby Hickam Field (as well as other locations) were also under a surprise attack by
the Japanese. Eighteen Army Aircorps aircraft including bombers and fighters were destroyed or damaged on the
The USS Arizona has come to represent all the military and associated personel killed at Pearl Harbor. The
sunken remains of the ship is the final resting place of 1177 crewman and Marines. They are still entombed within the Arizona herself. In a touch of irony, there were 23 set of brothers killed onboard the Arizona that fateful Sunday morning.
The battleship is commemorated by a 184-foot memorial structure which spans it's mid-section. After years of
fund-raising, the memorial was dedicated in 1962. Many visitors consider this "hallowed ground" and drop flower leis into the water to honor the dead. An American flag is attached to a severed mainmast of the USS Arizona.
In his now-famous speech, Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddently and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the empire of Japan."
Until the Americans were able to muster the necessary fighting force, the Japanese continued to capitalize on
their surprize attack on Pearl Harbor. They moved quickly to establish control of the seas and seize vital islands from the northern coast of Australia to the Aleutian islands.
In the Spring of 42, Japanese conquests reached their peak. Then, the US turned the tide by winning two naval
battles, one at Midway and the other in the Coral Sea.