#161: A Day That Will Live In Infamy
Monday, December 07, 2009
At 7:53 a.m. on December 7, 1941 the first Japanese assault wave, with 51 'Val' dive bombers, 40 'Kate' torpedo bombers, 50 high level bombers and 43 'Zero' fighters, commenced an attack on U.S. ships in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, with flight commander, Mitsuo Fuchida, sounding the battle cry: "Tora! Tora! Tora!" (Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!).
The Americans were taken completely by surprise. The first attack wave targeted airfields and battleships. The second wave targeted other ships and shipyard facilities. The air raid lasted until 9:45 a.m. Eight battleships were damaged, with five sunk. Three light cruisers, three destroyers and three smaller vessels were lost along with 188 aircraft. The Japanese lost 27 planes and five midget submarines which attempted to penetrate the inner harbor and launch torpedoes.
Escaping damage from the attack were the prime targets: the U.S. Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers Lexington, Enterprise and Saratoga, which were not in the port. Also escaping damage were the base fuel tanks.
The casualty list included 2,335 servicemen and 68 civilians killed, with 1,178 wounded. Included were 1,104 men aboard the Battleship USS Arizona killed after a 1,760-pound air bomb penetrated into the forward magazine causing catastrophic explosions.
On Monday, December 8, the United States and Britain declared war on Japan with President Roosevelt calling December 7, "...a date which will live in infamy..."
Sadly, nearly all of the survivors are now gone and many of today's youth know nothing of the battle.
But many of us do remember and say "Thank You" to those who lost their lives and who endured debilitating injuries and loss of limbs and eyesight. You will never be forgotten as protectors of our country's shores.
To the survivors still with us, we salute you.