70th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor

Familyrelatives.com remembers those who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor.

 December the 7th 2011 marks the 70th anniversary of the "Day of Infamy" when Japanese Imperial forces launched an unprovoked attack on the United States Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii causing the biggest single loss in US maritime history.

"At dawn on Sunday December 7, 1941, more than half the United States Pacific Fleet, approximately 150 vessels and service craft, lay at anchor or alongside piers in Pearl Harbor. All but one of the Pacific fleet's battleships were in port that morning, most of them moored to quays flanking Ford Island.     By 10:00 a.m., the tranquil Sunday calm had been shattered. Twenty-one vessels lay sunk or damaged, the fighting backbone of the fleet apparently broken. Smoke from burning planes and hangars filled the sky, while oil from sinking ships clogged the harbor. Death was everywhere."

The attack was intended as a pre-emptive strike on the US Pacific Naval Fleet in order to keep the US from interfering with the Japanese Military plan. Instead the attack was a profound shock on the American people and this event brought the Americans directly into World War II.

The US Naval Base was attacked by Japanese fighters launched from 6 aircraft carriers along with bombers and torpedoes. All eight US Navy battleships were damaged with four being sunk, amazingly all but two were re-floated repaired and returned to active service later in the war. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers and one minelayer. Piers and shipyards, maintenance, fuel and ammunitions storage facilities were also destroyed in the attack and 323 US aircraft were destroyed or damaged mostly on the ground.

The loss of life was heavy with 2340 American personnel (Navy, Marine Corps and Army) were killed and 1178 wounded. The USS Arizona which suffered the greatest loss with 1177 sailors and marines killed, is now a permanent memorial to those who lost their lives. However the loss of life that day was not restricted to military personnel, or even to Pearl Harbor but also to Civilians many of them children who took a heavy toll.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed it on December 8, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy".

Other US possessions such as Wake Island, Guam and the Philippines were included in the co-ordinated attack. In a twist of fate the US Pacific fleet carrier force was at sea and escaped the onslaught. This enabled the US to regain the upper hand in the Battle of Midway the following June when US forces sank 4 Japanese carriers, destroyed 248 aircraft and killed 3057 sailors, a blow from which they never recovered.