Pearl Harbor Navy Base before the attack
Pearl Harbor was a United States Naval base on the island of Oahu, located west of Honolulu. On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy bombed the Pearl Harbor Naval base in a surprise attack.
Admiral Yamamoto of the Imperial Japanese Navy came to the conclusion that for the Japanese to be victorious in the pacific, they had to destroy the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor was considered to be geographically perfect for the United States to have their Pacific fleet based there. The island had a narrow entrance and shallow water which made it an ideal and impenetrable fort. An attack by enemy forces was thought to have been impossible. Prior to the attack, Japanese Naval forces practiced the attack at Kagoshima Bay, a Japanese base. It was described as the “twin sister” of Pearl Harbor for its near identical structure.
The goal of the Japanese was to sink the aircraft carriers but, if unable to, they were advised to sink battleships. The Japanese would attack in three waves.The first wave was to attack military installations along the island of Oahu. The second wave would target specific areas whilst, the third wave would target fuel storage tanks.
The Japanese carriers went unnoticed because they had approached Pearl Harbor from the north of Oahu. In that area, no radar was able to detect them because of the mountains so it was essentially a dead zone. Furthermore, that Sunday there were no American surveillance planes circling the area.
The first wave attacked along Oahu, specifically Pearl Harbor. One of the Japanese air pilots bombed the USS Arizona ship causing the battleship to be sunk in less than nine minutes. The bombing of the USS Arizona ended in the death of over 1,100 men.
[Above is a picture of the USS Arizona after the attack]
The USS Oklahoma then proceeded to be hit by over 10 torpedoes. At the bottom is a picture of the USS Oklahoma before the attack. By coincidence, the USS Oklahoma was scheduled that morning for inspection which made it one of the easier targets. Portholes and water hatches had been opened the night before, allowing seawater to enter the battleship. The bombing of the USS Oklahoma caused it to sink, trapping over 400 men. Additionally, bombs hit drydocks such as the Pennsylvanian.
[Above is a picture of the USS Oklahoma after being bombed]
The second wave of the attack came in from the north and 78 dive bombers continued the attack on Pearl Harbor. Four hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the first wave of pilots returned to Japanese carriers which were now 190 miles off the coast of Oahu. As stated above, the Japanese had planned for a third wave but, surprisingly an admiral named Naguma chose to call off the attack regardless of the success of the first and second wave. It was later discovered, that Naguma was unsure of where the U.S aircraft carriers were so, he chose to not risk his forces. The Japanese had ended their assault on the island of Oahu after two waves of attack.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, residents and military personnel were advised to prepare themselves for Japanese invasion. Additionally, paranoia against Japanese-American residents rose. The fear of the Japanese invading led Honolulu police to raid the Japanese embassy. Furthermore, the attack led government agents to confiscate any broadcasting system from Japanese-American residents, fearing them sending information to Japan. Almost immediately, Japanese-Americans from Hawaii were rounded up and placed in internment camps. A total of 800 Japanese-Americans were interned. Execute Order No.9066, interning all Japanese-Americans would not take effective until 74 days after Pearl Harbor.
The governor of Hawaii had declared martial law, Hawaii was now under military control. Changes occurred such as the creation of bomb shelters, and sandbags placed in the front of downtown buildings. In the schools, the creation of trenches, practice runs in the case of bombings, and the use of gas masks had been implemented.
In the end, of the 92 ships docked at Pearl Harbor, 19 had been sunk. The United States Navy had 92 of their aircrafts destroyed and 31 damaged. The United States army had 96 aircrafts sunk and 128 damaged. 2,388 were killed and 1,178 wounded. A direct hit on the USS Arizona had resulted in the death of over 1,100 men. The Japanese had only lost 29 planes in the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
[Above is a picture of the USS Arizona Memorial]
Two decades after the events on December 7th, a memorial for the USS Arizona was opened on Memorial Day 1962. The memorial was built where the USS Arizona was docked at Pearl Harbor Navy Base. Nearby the USS Arizona memorial, is the World War II Valor in the Pacific Monument honoring all those who fought in the pacific during World War II. It is estimated that about a 1 million and half people from around the world pay tribute to the brave men who lost their lives in the attack on Pearl Harbor.