PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. - It was 71 years ago on Dec. 7, 1941, at 7:55 a.m., when more than 350 Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes from six aircraft carriers roared across the Hawaiian sky and began unleashing their deadly payloads.

As ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor and planes of the Army Air Force at Hickam Field on the main island of Oahu, Hawaii, began exploding and burning, sailors, Soldiers, Marines and airmen ran for their weapons or helped the wounded to safety.

In less than two hours Japanese Imperial forces had killed more than 2,400 Americans and left another 1,282 wounded. That 110-minute attack also resulted in the award of 15 Medals of Honor, 51 Navy Crosses, 53 Silver Stars, four Navy and Marine Corps Medals, one Distinguished Service Medal and three Bronze Stars.

The next day, as the country lay in shock, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan with his famous "a date which will live in infamy" speech, officially bringing America into World War II. Four years would pass until the globe was at peace again.

Locally, Monterey area residents probably reacted like other communities across the United States: shocked and eager for news.

As casualty reports reached service members' families and appeared on the front pages of hometown newspapers, communities across the United States were made to feel the brunt of involvement in the conflict to come.

Soon, news came that would further bring home Pearl Harbor's attack to the close-knit town that was Monterey: Three young sailors of the U.S. Navy who called Monterey their hometown died at Pearl Harbor as shipmates aboard the Battleship USS Arizona.

Petty Officers Michael Criscuola, Jack Hazdovac and Tom Trovato were far from being alone, as the Arizona was the battleship that sustained not only the most damage, but also the most casualties during the attack on Pearl Harbor. According to the National Park Service website, on the USS Arizona 1,177 crew members perished, making it the greatest loss of life on any U.S. warship in American history.

(Localized article based on compiled story by J.D. Leipold, Army News Service, from White House releases.)

Page last updated Thu December 6th, 2012 at 00:00