Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Just before 8 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, hundreds of Japanese planes made the surprise raid on Pearl Harbor. During the attack, which was launched from aircraft carriers, nearly 20 American naval vessels, including eight battleships, were damaged or destroyed, as well as more than 300 aircraft.
The official American death toll was 2,403, including 2,008 Navy personnel, 109 Marines, 218 Army service members and 68 civilians. Of the dead, 1,177 were from the USS Arizona, the wreckage of which now serves as the main memorial to the incident. Fifty-five Japanese soldiers also were killed.
The total number of wounded was 1,143, including 710 Navy, 69 Marines, and 364 Army and 103 civilians.
Until the raid, the U.S. had been reluctant to join World War II, which had started on Sept. 1, 1939, after Germany invaded Poland.
Pearl Harbor reversed that in a day, with Congress issuing a declaration of war after Roosevelt’s speech on Dec. 8, 1941. After the Pearl Harbor attack, most Americans no longer disagreed about isolationism, neutrality or involvement in World War II. American unity clicked into place.
“Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
He went on to say, “No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.”
The exact number of survivors is unclear, “But today, we memorialize all those lost on December 7, 1941, declare once again that our Nation will never forget these valiant heroes, and resolve as firmly as ever that their memory and spirit will survive for as long as our Nation endures.” – Proclamation on National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, 2020.
Pearl Harbor was the beginning, for many, of years serving and defending our Country. In December of 1941, Dick Cole was a 2nd Lt. in the Army Air Corp Reserves assigned to the 17th Bomb Group at Pendleton, Oregon. On the 5th of December he left on a three day pass and was in Hollywood when her heard the news the the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Tom Griffin was training as a Celestial Navigator and Pendleton. He remembers that there were no rooms for Officers on the field so many officers had to rent rooms in town. At 3:30 pm on December 7th, he along with several friends, heard from an excited townsperson about the attack. Later that evening as they were in a local movie theater they stopped the movie and a man came up on stage and said that all the airmen had to report to the field, immediately. Jack Sinise, a WWII Lead Navigator on B-17s with 35 missions. He was 17 when he decided to join the regular Army and study meteorology, “Then Pearl Harbor came along.”
Hear from these heroes about their “My Pearl Harbor Day” and how it was the beginning to their military service and how it changed their lives forever.