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December 7th, 1941: Attack on Pearl Harbor
On the morning of the seventh of December 1941, during the time of WWII, the United States was awoken by a surprise strike attack by an unknown force. The Naval Base in Pearl Harbor was attacked by the military forces of Japan. This attack essentially led to the United States’ involvement in the Second World War. During this time, Japanese aggression was consuming different parts of Asia and the Japanese military wanted to continue to grow. The United States, however, wanted to prevent further Japanese expansion by placing embargos that crippled their forces. The Japanese did not agree with the actions taken by the United States and decided to make some counter actions to end the United States’ involvement in foreign affairs. Soon, the Japanese planned a surprise attack against the United States’ Navy.
In order to properly surprise the United States, Japan had to prepare for a long time, knowing that the United States’ government was on constant alert. In late November, Japanese military force began their journey across the Pacific Ocean, towards the Naval Base on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. The strike force consisted of six aircraft carriers, nine destroyers, two battleships, one light/two heavy cruisers, and three submarines which had to be secretly transported across the Pacific without being detected. On the morning of the seventh of December, the Japanese reached their location a few miles north of the island and at around six in the morning, the military released the aircrafts striking the Naval Base at about eight. Commander Mitsuo Fuchida would soon notify the rest that the attack was a success; the enemy was completely caught by surprise.
The aircraft carriers soon began to release bombs upon the base and gunned down anything visible. Soon after the attack began, those on the base realized that they were not going through a drill. Acting quickly, the gunners manned their stations and proceeded to shoot down the many Japanese aircrafts and Admiral Husband Kimmel notified the base of the air raid. The Japanese’s initial mission was to destroy the American aircraft carriers in order to completely weaken them however, with a stroke of luck, the aircraft carriers were out to sea that day and the Japanese improvised by targeting the battleships. There were eight battleships on base that day, seven docked on Battleship Row and one on the dry dock for repairs.
Having the element of surprise, a large amount of the bombs and torpedoes that were initially released had hit their targets and caused a vast amount of damage. Many of the sailors worked towards keeping the battleships afloat, however, their actions were essentially futile. Of all the battleships that were attacked that day, the USS Arizona was struck the most, being hit by a number of bombs and torpedoes, and suffering over 1,100 military casualties. The Japanese also used five midget submarines to aid in the attack on Battleship Row which all sank that day. The Japanese’s goal was to take out the American’s air power in order to prevent a counter attack so the Japanese airplanes made their way towards the airfields near Pearl Harbor. The Japanese airmen found American’s planes and began bombing and destroying them. The American pilots soon realized what was going on and did what they could to take out the Japanese pilots but to no avail. Some American pilots were able to get off the ground to shoot down some of the Japanese airmen, however, they were greatly outnumbered.
The attack on Pearl Harbor was officially over between 9:40-9:50 in the morning, lasting almost two hours long, when the Japanese airplanes made their way towards the carriers then back to Japan. Of the eight battleships on base, four battleships were sunk (USS Arizona, USS California, USS Oklahoma, and USS West Virginia), one...
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