Remembering Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was one of the most shocking attacks on US troops in American territory. It’s the reason that the United States finally entered World War II and it’s ultimately the reason why the Japanese lost the war. If the US hadn’t entered the war, the Japanese would have gone on fighting much longer.
On November 26, 1941, the Striking Force, a task force of six Japanese air carriers, left Japan with the intent of attacking Pearl Harbor. Aboard the carriers were 360 attack planes. The attack was to be conducted in two waves. Fleet submarines also left the country on November 25, however, several were spotted and grounded or destroyed.
On December 7, 1941, the attack began. The first wave of 183 planes was divided into 3 groups, each with a different set of targets. The air portion of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor commenced at 7:48 AM Hawaii time. They attacked Kaneohe. At the time, most of the soldiers were asleep and woke to the sounds of alarms and bombs. The targets were the US Navy ships stationed at the Harbor.
Soon after, the second wave attacked. Another 171 planes attacked aircraft and hangars ashore as well as carriers and cruisers. The attack lasted only 90 minutes but it killed 2,386 Americans. Of that number, 55 were civilians. Another 1,139 were wounded. Nine ships were sunk that day, and another 21 were heavily damaged, some irreparable. Nearly half of that total came from the explosion of the USS Arizona, whose forward magazine exploded after it was hit by a shell. 1,177 people died when the ship was attacked. The USS Nevada was damaged and beached deliberately to avoid blocking the harbor, the USS California crew was ordered to abandon ship, the USS Oklahoma capsized, the USS Utah was hit with two torpedoes, and the USS Maryland was hit with shells, but it was largely undamaged.
Of the 402 air crafts in Hawaii, 188 were destroyed and 159 were damaged. 55 Japanese airmen were killed as were nine submariners. Of Japan’s 414 planes, only 29 were lost in battle. The Japanese almost ordered a third wave, but decided against it.
The attack on Pearl Harbor is considered one of the largest engagements of World War II. Its element of surprise was a major factor in the US’ entrance to World War II. In fact, President Roosevelt declared the attack as such: “December 7th, 1941 – a date which will live on in infamy.”
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