Pearl Harbor Day and the Greatest Generation

Pearl Harbor Day and the Greatest Generation

The Greatest Generations Foundation has one of the best synopses of ‘a date which will live in infamy,’ reminding all Americans of what the ‘Greatest Generation’ did for us. On this important day remember those who were part of this incredible generation. Below is the synopsis.

“On November 26, 1941, a fleet of six Japanese aircraft carriers accompanied by 24 other ships and submarines departed from Japanese territory in absolute secrecy. They were to spend the next 12 days in solemn anticipation of their mission: to cripple the American navy fleet moored at Pearl Harbor. On the peaceful Sunday morning of December 7, two waves of Japanese fighters, dive-bombers, horizontal bombers, and torpedo bombers divided and simultaneously attacked several American installations on the seemingly insignificant island of Oahu, Hawaii.

That morning, as the USS Ward reported that it had sunk a submarine off the coast, a radar tower on the northern tip of the island reported a large number of planes approaching the island. However, the submarine was passed off as a consequence of war while the radar blips were believed to be an approaching contingent of B-17 bombers scheduled to arrive from mainland Hawaii that morning. A Japanese communiqué was intended to be delivered to the president at 8:00 a.m. – the precise moment of the attack – informing him of Japan’s disposition. However, the message took too long to translate and any encrypted warning was lost.

At approximately 7:55 a.m., the first wave of Japanese planes attacked the island, taking the Americans completely by surprise and inflicting heavy damage on a number of assets including battleships, cruisers, and planes on a number of the island’s airfields.

The American planes on Wheeler Field, Kaneohe, and Haleiwa were parked in tight groups, wingtip to wingtip to make them easy to observe and prevent enemy sabotage. Unfortunately, this formation made them much easier to target as well. Meanwhile in the harbor, the USS Arizona took a direct hit to its forward magazine, sinking it and trapping nearly 1,000 sailors inside. The USS Oklahoma lost nearly 500 of her crew, while the USS Utah took a hit from a torpedo that rolled her on her side. The USS Nevada attempted to get out of the harbor; however, nearly as soon as the first wave of attack was over, the second began. The Nevada beached herself to avoid sinking in the bottleneck mouth of the harbor.

By 10:00 a.m. the Japanese attack was over and their remaining planes headed back to the carriers, ready to return to Japan. In all some 2,400 soldiers and sailors were killed during the two hour attack, and another 1,500 sustained non-fatal wounds. The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor is regarded as a ‘date which will live in infamy,’ that led the U.S. entry into World War II and forever changed the international arena.”

We remember those who lost their lives protecting our country and those World War II veterans who made it home. Keep them and their families in your thoughts this week.