The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor destroyed the U.S. Pacific Fleet on Dec. 7th, 1941. There were plans for a surprise attack against the United States were begun as early as January of 1941 and some declassified documents suggest that President Roosevelt knew of the forthcoming attack three days before.
Approximately 2,403 service members and civilians who were killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. A further 1,178 people were injured in the attack, which permanently sank two U.S. Navy battleships (the USS Arizona and the USS Utah) and destroyed 188 aircraft.
- When Japanese Commander Mitsuo Fuchida called out, “Tora! Tora! Tora!” (“Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!”) upon flying over Pearl Harbor, it was a message to the entire Japanese navy telling them they had caught the Americans totally by surprise.
- The Japanese specifically chose to attack on a Sunday because they believed Americans would be more relaxed and thus less alert on a weekend.
- U.S. servicemen identified the invading planes as Japanese because of the “meatballs,” what they called the large, red circle (the Rising Sun) on the side of Japanese planes.
- The United States aircraft carriers, the primary target of the attack, were not at the base at the time
- Because of this, the Japanese cancelled a planned second attack
- There were eight battleships at Pearl Harbor that day, which included all the battleships of the U.S. Pacific fleet except for one (the Colorado).
- Seven of the U.S. battleships were lined up in “Battleship Row.”
- All eight U.S. battleships were either sunk or damaged during the attack. Amazingly, all but two (the Arizona and the Oklahoma) were eventually able to return to active duty.
- Four of the American battleships stationed in “battleship row” were sunk. Another was capsized and a sixth run aground
- The Arizona exploded when a bomb breached its forward magazine (i.e. the ammunition room). Approximately 1,100 U.S. servicemen died on board.
- 2,343 men were killed, 1,272 were wounded and 960 left missing
- The Japanese lost 65 men, with an additional soldier being captured.
- The United States declared war on Japan the next day as FDR gave his famous “Day of Infamy” speech to Congress
- The U.S. declared war on Germany and Italy on December 11, after they declared war on the U.S.
- The dropping of atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki helped bring an end to World War II in 1945
- There was a floating National Monument erected on the hull of the sunken Arizona in 1962
- There is a conspiracy theory that FDR provoked the Japanese attack in order to sway American opinion and make it possible for the U.S. to enter the war
- The United States declared war on Japan on December 8, 1941, the day following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
- “Remember Pearl Harbor!” became a rallying cry for the U.S. during World War II.
Pearl Harbor Warbirds