From an American Association for Justice attorney colleague in NJ, Tom Vesper –
25 Interesting Pearl Harbor Facts
- The Japanese used the codename “Operation Hawaii” for the attack on Pearl Harbor. This later changed to “Operation Z.”
- The Japanese specifically chose to attack on a Sunday because they believed Americans would be more relaxed and thus less alert on a weekend; indeed, many U.S. servicemen were either still in their pajamas or eating breakfast in the mess halls when the attack on Pearl Harbor began.
- Attack commenced at 7:55 A.M. on Sunday, December 7, 1941 and lasted 110 minutes, from 7:55 a.m. until 9:45 a.m.
- The Japanese launched their airplanes in two waves, approximately 45 minutes apart: The first wave of Japanese planes struck Pearl Harbor at 7:55 a.m. The second wave reached Pearl Harbor around 8:40 a.m.
- When Japanese Commander Mitsuo Fuchida called out, “Tora! Tora! Tora!” (“Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!”) upon flying over Pearl Harbor, it was a message to the entire Imperial Japanese Navy telling them they had caught the Americans totally by surprise.
- The Japanese traveled 3,400 miles across the Pacific to execute their attack on Pearl Harbor, after the Japanese attack force stationed itself approximately 230 miles north of the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
- Plans for a surprise attack against the United States were begun as early as January of 1941.
- Japanese were led by Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo; his “Attack Task Force” consisted of 6 aircraft carriers, 2 battleships, 2 heavy cruisers, 1 light cruiser, 9 destroyers, 8 tankers, 23 fleet submarines, 5 midget submarines, 414 aircraft
- U.S. servicemen identified the invading planes as Japanese because of what they called the “meatballs” – the large, red circle (the Rising Sun) on the side of Japanese planes.
- The Japanese only attacked the ships at Pearl Harbor Naval base and airplanes at Hickman Airfield, leaving surrounding areas such as repair facilities, the submarine base and fuel oil storages areas unharmed
- The Japanese struck the airfields at Hickam Field, Wheeler Field, Bellows Field, Ewa Field, Schoefield Barracks, and Kaneohe Naval Air Station.
- The United States aircraft carriers, the primary target of the attack, were not at the base at the time; because of this fact, the Japanese commanders decided to cancel a planned second attack that same day.
- There were 8 battleships at Pearl Harbor that day, which included all the battleships of the U.S. Pacific fleet except for one (the USS Colorado); 7 of the 8 U.S. battleships were lined up in “Battleship Row.”
- All eight U.S. battleships were either sunk or damaged during the attack. Amazingly, all but two (the Arizona and the Oklahoma) were eventually able to return to active duty.
- Four of the American battleships stationed in “Battleship Row” were sunk. Another was capsized and a sixth run aground
- USS Arizona exploded when a bomb breached its forward magazine (i.e. the ammunition room). Approximately 1,100 U.S. servicemen died on board.
- After being torpedoed, the Oklahoma listed so badly that it turned upside down.
- During the attack, the Nevada left its berth in Battleship Row and tried to make it to the harbor entrance. After being repeatedly attacked on its way, the Nevada beached itself.
- To aid their airplanes, the Japanese sent in five midget subs to help target the battleships. The Americans sunk four of the midget subs and captured the fifth.
- TheJapanese sunk 11 other ships and destroyed 188 planes; 2,343 men were killed, 1,272 were wounded and 960 left missing; A total of 2,335 U.S. servicemen were KIA + 1,143 WIA; 68 civilians were also killed and 35 wounded
- The Japanese lost 65 men, with 1 additional man captured; only 28 Japanese planes were shot down and 5 midget submarines sunk
- US declared war on Japan next day, December 8, 1941, as FDR gave his famous “Day of Infamy” speech to Congress; FDR made a last minute edit to his speech, changing “a day that will live on in world history” to “a day that will live in infamy”
- The U.S. declared war on Germany and Italy on December 11, after they declared war on the U.S.
- There was a floating National Monument erected on the hull of the sunken Arizona in 1962
- “Remember Pearl Harbor!” became a rallying cry for the U.S. during World War II.
Pearl Harbor – The Silver Lining
An interesting story about the insight Admiral Nimitz had into the “Mistakes” the Japanese made when they bombed Pearl Harbor.
Tour boats ferry people out to the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii every thirty minutes. We just missed a ferry and had to wait thirty minutes. I went into a small gift shop to kill time. In the gift shop, I purchased a small book entitled, “Reflections on Pearl Harbor ” by Admiral Chester Nimitz.
Sunday, December 7th, 1941–Admiral Chester Nimitz was attending a concert in Washington D.C. He was paged and told there was a phone call for him. When he answered the phone, it was President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the phone. He told Admiral Nimitz that he (Nimitz) would now be the Commander of the Pacific Fleet. Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet. He landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941. There was such a spirit of despair, dejection and defeat–you would have thought the Japanese had already won the war.
On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters every where you looked. As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, “Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?” Admiral Nimitz ‘ s reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice. Admiral Nimitz said, “The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make or God was taking care of America . Which do you think it was?” Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked, “What do mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?”
- Nimitz explained. Mistake number one: the Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk–we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.
- Mistake number two: when the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow everyone of those ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America. And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.
- Mistake number three: every drop of fuel in the Pacific is in top of the ground storage tanks 5 miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply. That ‘ s why I say the Japanese made 3 of biggest mistakes an attack force could make or God was taking care of America .
I’ve never forgotten what I read in that little book. It is still an inspiration as I reflect upon it. In jest, I might suggest that because Admiral Nimitz was a Texan, born and raised in Fredricksburg , Texas –he was a born optimist. But anyway you look at it–Admiral Nimitz was able to see a silver lining in a situation and circumstance where everyone else saw only despair and defeatism. President Roosevelt had chosen the right man for the right job.
We desperately needed a leader that could see silver linings in the midst of the clouds of dejection, despair and defeat.
There is a reason that our national motto is, IN GOD WE TRUST.
SUPPORT OUR TROOPS. WITHOUT THEM, WE WOULDN’T