Do You Remember Pearl Harbor Day 1941?

President Franklin D. Roosevelt denounced it as a "Date that will live in infamy." It was the day America was dragged into World War II.

BY: Rob Kerby

 

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and destroyed as many parked aircraft as possible to prevent an effective counterattack. When the attackers’ fuel got low, they returned to the carriers, refueled, re-armed and launched a second wave.

The West Virginia, Tennessee and Arizona

Their mission was to destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet and prevent America from interfering in the Empire of Japan’s expansion into China as well as the Pacific Rim territories of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the United States.

All eight U.S. battleships were damaged — four sunk. However, all the U.S. aircraft carriers were at sea. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship and a minelayer and destroyed 188 U.S. aircraft . In the attack, 2,402 Americans were killed and 1,282 wounded. Japanese losses were light: 29 aircraft and five midget submarines lost, and 65 servicemen killed or wounded. One Japanese sailor was captured.

Of the American fatalities, nearly half of the total — 1,177 — were due to the explosion of the battleship U.S.S. Arizona‘s forward ammunition magazine after it was hit by a Japanese bomb.

The U.S.S. Arizona memorial today

Damaged and afire, the battleship U.S.S. Nevada attempted to escape the harbor and was targeted by Japanese bombers hoping she could be sunk strategically, blocking the harbor entrance.

The U.S.S. California was hit by two bombs and two torpedoes. The crew might have kept her afloat, but were ordered to abandon ship just as they were getting the pumps to work. Smoke from the Arizona and the battleship U.S.S. West Virginia had drifted over her, making her situation look worse than it was. The U.S.S. Utah was hit twice by torpedoes, the West Virginia seven times, the last one tearing away her rudder.

The mighty U.S.S. Oklahoma was capsized. The U.S.S. Maryland was hit twice, but not seriously damaged.

Eight U.S. Army Air Corps pilots managed to get airborne during the battle and six were credited with downing at least one Japanese aircraft each.

The attack came as a profound shock to the American people. A deep domestic yearning to stay neutral from the war raging in Europe evaporated, particularly after Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy declared war on the U.S. on December 11.

President Roosevelt delivering his "Day of Infamy" speech

There might be historical precedents for such an unannounced military action by Japan – a “sneak attack.” However, the lack of any formal warning, particularly while peace negotiations were ongoing in Washington, D.C., led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to proclaim to Congress that December 7, 1941, would forever be ”a date which will live in infamy.”

My grandfather was infuriated by the sneak attack – but heartsick over the reaction against U.S.-born Japanese-Americans. Within weeks of the attack, American citizens of Japanese ancestry were rounded up

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