“December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy,” PEARL HARBOR, 80 Years Ago Today


Early on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, a peaceful Sunday morning in Hawaii was shattered by a Japanese attack on U.S. forces on the island. More than 350 Japanese planes strafed American forces in the surprise attack, which killed 2,404 Americans, both civilian and military. Here’s a timeline of events that fateful morning.

On December 7th, 1941, at 7:55 am, Pearl Harbor suffered a sneak attack by the Japanese. Pearl Harbor was home to the US Pacific Fleet and the largest concentration of U.S. forces in the Pacific.

“December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy,” is how then-U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt described the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the American naval base near Honolulu, Hawaii.

Tuesday marks the 80th anniversary of the surprise strike on the U.S. Pacific Fleet that killed more than 2,400 service members and civilians, wounded about 1,000 people, and damaged or destroyed almost 20 ships and more than 300 aircraft in less than two hours.

The next day, Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan, and the lawmakers approved the move.

Just three days later, Germany and Italy, Japan’s allies, declared war on the U.S. The U.S. reciprocated, entering World War II, which had been raging in Europe for more than two years.

America’s entrance into the war was welcomed by the embattled European nations that had been at war for two years.

A total of 2,403 died as a result of the attack and almost two-thirds died within 15 minutes of the bombing of the battleships Oklahoma, Utah, and Arizona: US Navy – 2,008, USMC – 109, US Army – 218, Civilians – 68.

We could have lost our entire fleet, but the U.S. carriers were not at Pearl Harbor. On 28 November, Admiral Kimmel sent USS Enterprise to deliver Marine Corps fighter planes to Wake Island. On December 7 the task force was on its way back to Pearl Harbor. On 5 December, Admiral Kimmel sent the USS Lexington to deliver 25 scout bombers to Midway Island. The last Pacific carrier, USS Saratoga, had left Pearl Harbor for upkeep and repairs on the West Coast.


The USS Arizona battleship took a direct hit at 8:10 am from a Japanese torpedo dropped from a plane, which caused the ship to explode in a massive inferno that killed many of her crew in just a few seconds.

It now sits at the bottom of Pearl Harbor with the 1,177 souls who died seventy years ago.

The ship is the site of a memorial. When you visit the memorial, you are asked to remain respectful and silent, which is something that no one needs to be told once in this solemn environment.

To this day, bubbles continually appear on the water surface above the Arizona, providing visitors with a haunting, moving image that brings history into the present day.

The bond formed among these men on the ship was so strong that many survivors have chosen to be cremated all these years later, having their ashes scattered at the site. Still, others have their ashes placed in an urn and taken down to the ship by Navy divers.


Approximately 150 World War II veterans, including about 40 survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor, are attending a ceremony of remembrance Tuesday at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Hawaii. The 80th National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Commemoration will include a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the exact time the attack began.

Also on Tuesday, the U.S. military is reburying the remains of service personnel killed when the USS Oklahoma was attacked in Pearl Harbor, following a years-long project to identify their remains. The burials will be in Honolulu’s National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

The Pentagon project identified nearly 400 service members from the ship with the help of DNA technology and dental records, leaving the remains of only 33 people from the ship not individually identified, according to a report in The Washington Post.

The Oklahoma was sunk during the attack, which was carried out by a Japanese force that included 353 aircraft, 35 submarines, two battleships, and 11 destroyers, according to a U.S. census report.




6:10 a.m.: The minesweeper USS Condor sights a periscope off the shore of Oahu. The Condor signaled the USS Ward, a destroyer, who proceeded to the area to hunt for the submarine. Around the same time, the first wave of planes took off from the Japanese aircraft carriers about 200 miles north of the island. The Japanese fleet had 67 ships total.

6:45 a.m.: The Ward, responding to the Condor’s sighting of a periscope, sighted the periscope itself in the wake of the cargo ship Antares. The Ward attacked and sank a Japanese midget submarine. The Ward radioed into Navy headquarters, but its message was fatefully delayed by the decoding process.

7:02 a.m.: A radar station on Oahu spots unidentified aircraft heading toward Hawaii. An Army lieutenant disregards the radar report thinking it’s a flight of B-17 bombers coming from California.

7:40 a.m.: The first Japanese aircraft reached Oahu.

7:55 a.m.: The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor begins. The attack included 40 torpedo planes, 103 level bombers, 131 dive bombers, and 79 fighters launched from four heavy carriers. The Japanese force also included two heavy cruisers, 35 submarines, two light cruisers, nine oilers, two battleships, and 11 destroyers.

8:10 a.m.: The USS Arizona explodes. The Arizona was a Pennsylvania-class battleship built in 1913. More than 1,100 officers and crewmen were lost. The wreck is still at the bottom of Pearl Harbor beneath the USS Arizona Memorial.

8:17 a.m.: The USS Helm sinks a Japanese submarine at the entrance to Pearl Harbor. The Helm was the only ship underway when the attack began. One of the Japanese sailors survived the Helm’s attack and became the first U.S. prisoner of war in World War II.

8:54 a.m.: The second wave of the attack begins. This wave contained 78 dive bombers, 35 fighters, and 54 high-altitude bombers.

9:30 a.m.: The USS Shaw explodes in a dry dock. The Shaw was a Mahan-class destroyer in dry dock for repairs at the time of the attack. Two Japanese bombs went through the forward machine gun platform and one more through the port wing of the bridge. The forward magazine exploded, but the Shaw eventually returned to service, even coming back to Pearl Harbor.

10 a.m.: The Japanese planes return to their carriers.


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