PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. - The attack by Japanese naval forces on the U.S. Pacific Fleet at its Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, base in the early morning hours of Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, was the event that drew the United States into military participation in World War II. News of the bombing assault swept across the nation via radio news broadcasts and special newspaper editions.

In announcing to the world a declaration of war upon Imperial Japan the following day, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously referred to Dec. 7, 1941, as Aca,!A"a date that will live in infamy.Aca,!A? Within a matter of hours the United States was engaged in a two-ocean war because Nazi Germany had timed a declaration of war upon the United States in synch with the attack by its Asian ally.

Historians say the Pearl Harbor attack was carried out by waves of some 400 Japanese fighter-bombers flown from six aircraft carriers. Wikipedia states that 2,402 U.S. service members were killed in the attack and another 1,282 wounded. Reportedly 68 civilians were also killed. The Japanese sank or damaged eight U.S. Navy battleships, three destroyers, three cruisers and a minelayer. And, the Japanese destroyed or damaged 188 U.S. aircraft.

As casualty reports appeared on the front pages of hometown newspapers, communities across the United States erupted in outrage. Young men lined up at military recruiting stations to enlist. It is unlikely that a vast number of communities were affected more by the shock of the Pearl Harbor attack than the tiny Oak Grove Neighborhood next to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, the hometown of three young sailors of the U.S. Navy Aca,!" Petty Officers Michael Criscuola, Jack Hazdovac and Tom Trovato Aca,!" who died at Pearl Harbor as shipmates aboard the battleship USS Arizona.

Few Americans had heard of Pearl Harbor prior to Dec. 7, 1941. Fewer still knew its location on the southern coast of the island of Oahu. The attack took U.S. military leaders and civilian officials by surprise. In the months and years that followed, however, the events of Dec. 7, 1941, have been thoroughly researched. Historians of both the United States and Japan today are in general agreement with the following points.

Aca,!AcThe attack came after more than a decade of steadily worsening economic and diplomatic relations between Japan and the United States.

Aca,!AcThe attack was intended to frighten and intimidate the United States from countering JapanAca,!a,,cs planned takeover of the Pacific and consolidation of its conquests in China and other parts of Asia.

Aca,!AcThe attack crippled the U.S. Pacific Fleet and the Japanese suffered only slight losses Aca,!" reportedly only 29 aircraft. Aca,!A"Leaving aside the unspeakable treachery of it,Aca,!A? a U.S. admiral was quoted as saying, Aca,!A"the Japanese did a fine job.Aca,!A?

Aca,!AcJapanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto planned the attack weeks in advance. The extent of its success surprised the Japanese as much as the Americans.

Aca,!AcThe air attack came in two waves. The main targets of the first wave, which arrived at 7:55 a.m., were the U.S. battleships, aircraft carriers and the Pearl Harbor airfield. The main targets of the second wave, which arrived about an hour later, were other ships and shipyard facilities. The attack continued until about 9:45 a.m.

Aca,!AcThree U.S. aircraft carriers that were prime targets Aca,!" the USS Enterprise, the USS Lexington and USS Saratoga Aca,!" escaped damage because they were not in port at the time of the attack.

Aca,!AcOf eight battleships that were hit, all but the USS Arizona and USS Oklahoma were eventually repaired and returned to service.

Aca,!AcAt President RooseveltAca,!a,,cs request, the U.S. Congress declared war on Japan with only one vote against. That vote was cast by Representative Jeanette Rankin of Montana.

Page last updated Mon November 29th, 2010 at 12:50