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Pearl Harbor Attack in a Nutshell

A brief description of the events that started, occurred in, and ended pearl harbor.

On the morning of Sunday December 7, 1941, civilians on the beach of Waikiki were completely unaware that their lazy day of carefree island life would soon come to an end. The nearby naval base of Pearl Harbor was built on Oahu Island, one of the Hawaiian islands. It was transformed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt into a stronghold that would deter Japanese aggression in the Pacific.

The mastermind of “Operation Hawaii“, was the Japanese admiral Isoruku Yamamoto. He began mapping out plans one year before the actual attack. His target was the once sleepy naval base of Pearl Harbor.

To avoid detection, he set his fighter planes, bombers, and escorts on a path that would avoid commercial sea lanes. The 4,000 mile voyage to Hawaii took 12 days for the Japanese to complete. Already stationed at Pearl Harbor were several of the 32 Japanese submarines that encircled Oahu. Their mission was to spy on the base and report info to the Japanese. By planning his attack on a Sunday, the admiral hoped to catch all the ships in port. As luck would have it, the aircraft carriers and a battleship were missing. These vessels were his most important targets.

Starting at 6:00, the admiral’s first wave of 183 fighters and torpedo bombers struck the fleet in Pearl Harbor, and the airfields at Hickam, Kaneohe, and Ewa. At 6:45, before the first wave reached the harbor, a U.S. destroyer spotted a Japanese midget sub and fired at it. But by that time, the bombers and fighters were already on their way to attack. The second wave, launched at 7:15, consisted of 167 aircraft, which struck the same targets. Near 8:00, admiral Isoruku sent one strike of 184 bombers to attack Pearl Harbor along with other airfields. Within another hour, he sent a second strike of bombers to finish the attack.

Over 180 ships were in Pearl Harbor on that Sunday morning; after the attack, a total of 21 were sunk or seriously damaged. The death toll included: 68 civilians, 109 Marines, 218 Army soldiers, and 2008 navy sailors. Most of these deaths were caused by explosions, burning fuel in the water, flying shrapnel, and Japanese machine gun bullets. This Japanese attack claimed a total of 2,403 innocent lives, and it also brought the United States into World War ll. From then on, this day would come to be known as The Day of Infamy.

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