“l On that Sunday the peaceful paradise of Hawaii was shattered. A surprise Japanese attack on the Island of AAU and the fleet at Pearl Harbor was caused for one of the most devastating defeats in American military history. On this day a Japanese fleet of six aircraft carriers sat two hundred miles north of Hawaii. Three hundred and fifty pilots said their prayers before embarking on their mission to bomb Pearl Harbor.
Japan’s military training had included the rigid Japanese indoctrination of the military spirit. All cadets were taught to obey their leaders and be willing to freely give their lives for Japan. Planning their attack on Hawaii took almost a year. 2 The Japanese train their pilots well and for months practiced torpedo runs to attack battle ships and high altitude precision bomb drops to destroy their main target the United States aircraft carriers. From United States point of view Pearl Harbors geographical structure made it a perfect base for the Pacific Fleet.
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The narrow entrance and shallow waters of the harbor made it nearly impenetrable. Ford Island, on which the naval station was based and the American ships were anchored was well protected. To the leaders of the American Navy a full-scale attack by an enemy naval force was impossible. But the Japanese were rehearsing an air attack and thanks to a geographical coincidence they could practice with precision because Japans Smoking bay had the same set up as Pearly Harbor. 3 At five in the morning on December 7th 1 941 the pilots were given their final orders. Chief and Admiral of the
Japanese Navy told them that they are now responsible for the glory of the empire. 4 The Japanese armada was closing in to about two hundred and twenty miles north of Hawaii, safely out of range of American radar detection. The first wave of airmen prepared for take off in their fighter planes and torpedo bombers. This assemblage required a strike force of over one hundred and eighty aircraft. 5 Meanwhile, two hundred miles south of AAU the United States aircraft carrier enterprise was launching eighteen aircrafts headed for Ford Island in the center of Pearl Harbor.
Not to long after one endured and eighty three Japanese fighters, dive-bombers and high altitude bombers were launched from carriers with split second timing with all planes being in the air within fifteen minutes. Japan’s attack is was attack in three waves. The first would assault all military installations across the entire highland of AAU. The second would zero in on more specific targets. The third would take out few storage tanks, dreadlocks and repair facilities. 6 Japanese planes radioed back to the armada that the main American fleet is in Pearl Harbor.
Approaching the Island of AAU from its mountainous astern coast the first wave of Japanese squadrons were not detected by radar because of a dead zone cause by the mountains and also the American surveillance planes did not go in the air on Sunday mornings. This facilitated the element of surprise. The Japanese admiral realized he must eliminate the American Naval strength in the Pacific if Japan is to be victorious. The Japanese believed that the American public would be discouraged by heavy losses and stay out of the war. “A couple hours later the Japanese commander who led the air attack radios back the code, “Tort, Tort.
Tort” meaning success, maximum strategic surprise, Americans caught unaware. Then the island wide attack began. ” 7 The first wave of Japanese forces attacked at points all around AAU, not just Pearl Harbor. Dive-bombers focused on Kankakee naval air station while dive-bombers and fighters attacked Bellows Field. Waves of bombers continued to pound military installations in an all out assault on the Island. The Japanese were not limited to military sites; they were also bombing civilian targets. Anyone who could grab a gun used it trying to fight back. There was massive confusion as Americans tried to grasp what was happening.
In a tragic case of bad timing, the scheduled American B-ass and the U. S. Enterprise arrived Pearl Harbor at the same time and were caught between enemy and friendly fire. Machine guns on Battleship Nevada opened fire on torpedo planes. High-level bombers began the run on battleship row and one of the easiest targets was the defenseless Oklahoma. 8 The only thing people on board were expecting was sabotage. Amidst the frenzy American soldiers were still not sure who exactly was attacking them. The first wave of the Japanese attack on the Island of AAU was a stunning victory for the enemy.
America’s Pacific Fleet let the sting of nearly perfected torpedoes designed specifically for the shallow waters of Pearl Harbor. Violent explosions rocked light cruisers and battleships like the Oklahoma. Every military target was hit in Japanese’s strategic surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. In defense the Americans put up any resistance possible but it was no match for the onslaught. On the radio all military personal was called to duty. High-level Japanese bombers were unleashing armor piercing bombs from ten thousand feet. One scored a direct hit on the battleship Arizona.
The mighty warship sank in less than ten minutes. 9 Two ship lengths away the US Oklahoma was an easy target. Ten torpedoes hit the Oklahoma and explosions ripped holes throughout the ships armor. Desperate attempts to free the men trapped inside the overturned Oklahoma carried on throughout the night. At this point all help was called for over the radio for military, doctors and nurses. 10 The second wave of Japanese aircraft attacks came in from the north. Their plan of attack was to once again strike military bases all across the Island with fighters, horizontal bombers and dive-bombers.
The second attack run began with events-eight dive-bombers hitting ships at Pearl Harbor. Fifty-four high level bombers hit naval air stations, thirty-six circle over the harbor to maintain air control. The first wave of the Japanese attack caused immediate confusion but then the second wave cause complete chaos. Americans fired anything in the sky. Tragically some of the planes shot down were the unarmed United States B-1 as from the mainland and the planes sent by the CSS carriers. In the harbor rescuers ignored the second wave of attack and start to work on the capsized Oklahoma. 1 The Japanese plan was working to perfection with very attack exceeding their expectations. Military installations across the entire Island were in flames; civilians were running for their lives and American military personal could only react with no organized plan of action-1 2 There was a lot of confusion; emergency rooms were filled to capacity with lots of severe burns and every body was working to the best of their ability. The first wave of Japanese aircraft returned to their carriers, which were about one hundred and ninety miles off the coast of AAU. Only twenty-nine planes were lost in a stunning victory. People felt that the
Japanese would be coming back because the American defense was so completely down. Reports came in that Japanese troops were lining on the Island AAU. Hawaii citizens lived in fear of a Japanese invasion. The Japanese was known for its ruthless cruelty and occupied nations. Just four hours into the attack the Island was on fire with the sky filled with black smoke. Communications were cutoff from the mainland leaving civilians with absolutely no hope of help. The people of Hawaii were certain of a Japanese invasion but were just not sure when it would happen. Japanese forces launched a surprise attack on the island of AAU.
The attack struck every military instillation on the island and the majority of the American Pacific fleet in Pearl Harbor. A Japanese high altitude bomber scored a direct hit on the Arizona killing one thousand one hundred and seventy seven men. 13 Over ten torpedoes struck the Oklahoma capsizing it in the harbor trapping over four hundred men inside. Following orders on board of the Oklahoma gunners were told to abandon ship, but they were driven to fight back. Everyone wanted revenge and they felt if they could get over to where the planes were and salvage some of the machine guns and shoot back as long as t kept going on. 4 Americans managed to get a few planes airborne to fly North in search of the Japanese aircraft carriers. Back on the island people were in a state of shock and never thought they would get hit in their strongest base where most of their fleet was. The American military was demoralized and there was no defending Hawaii against a full-scale invasion, which seemed inevitable. Government agents seized radios from Japanese fearing they would broadcast messages and information to their native land. With amazing success with the first two waves Japan was ready to launch the third.
The admiral decided to call off the third wave because he was unsure of the location of the American aircraft carriers. The Japanese had scored a tremendous victory with the first two attacks. Now it was felt that there was no need to risk defeat with a third attack. 1 5 No one knew that the enemy fleet was already heading back to Japan and everyone Was still poised for the invasion that they were sure was coming. A total of seven American planes were shot down by friendly fire. US anti-aircraft shells destroyed homes and property. America was at a war that it wasn’t so ready or prepared to fight.
The night following the Japanese attack Hawaii was on edge. US bombers from the mainland were mistakenly shot down and AAU erupted in chaos. On the next morning American Lieutenant made an unusual discovery of five small submarines on the shore. While causalities mounted from the attack rescue workers continued fighting to save the four hundred and sixty one men trapped inside the overturned haul of the Oklahoma. Following several different rescue attempts only thirty-two of the trapped sailors were saved. From the wreckage of the Island, the overnight distrust of the local Japanese descended into outright racism.
Almost immediately Japanese-Americans were rounded up by US military and placed in internment camps. New hardships for the rest of the islanders were just beginning. Almost instantaneously Hawaii went under Martial Law. There were many huge changes from bomb shelters being built everywhere, sand bags in front of office buildings, glass windows were taped and trenches were dug near schools to jump into for safety. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor and the entire Island of AAU Americans were not demoralized. “They accepted the situation that was forced upon them and it was now time for war with the enemy the Japanese.
An enormous sense of defiance lifted their desires for one united goal of payback for the surprise attack. “16 On December 7, 1941 American forces in Hawaii were critically unprepared for an enemy assault. 1 7 In fact, commanders were mainly concerned with sabotage. Before the Japanese attack fighters and bombers at airfields around AAU were taken out of defensive positions and lined up out in the open wing tip to wing tip, an easy prey for enemy planes. A battleship was moved from its strategic position to make it more accessible for inspection.
Radar was a relatively new vice and many of the officers were still training on the equipment. Japanese military planners knew that there is a dead zone created by the mountains and that American surveillance planes were not in the air on Sunday mornings. ‘The Japanese military spent over a year planning their attack on Pearl Harbor. ” 1 8 They knew exactly where the American airfields were, how many planes were there, and they knew the location of the battleships, cruisers, and destroyers. The Japanese attack was unprovoked and undeclared and at first devastating.
The enemy had all of the advantages including the element of surprise. The toll on American forces was just short of catastrophic with 2,388 deaths and 78 wounded. A direct hit on the Arizona claimed the lives of over 1,100 men and the Oklahoma was torpedoed 10 times losing over 400 sailors. In total of the 96 ships in Pearl Harbor during the attack 19 were sunk or severely damaged. 19 The Navy had 92 of their aircrafts destroyed and 31 damaged. The Army had 96 aircrafts destroyed and 1 28 damaged. The Japanese lost only 29 planes. But that is where the Japanese victories end. Following their first two attack waves the
Japanese command decides not to launch its third, which was an attack to destroy fuel storage, repair fields, and dry docks. 20 “The Japanese called off the attack because they were unsure where the American carriers were. ” That decision became a catalyst for American forces to quickly repair sunk and damaged vessels. Nonstop work shifts set the military and civilians to rebuilding the Pacific Fleet. Of the 19 ships that were sunk or heavily damaged, 14 ships were completely restored and went on to fight the enemy. Patriotism was the foundation for the American comeback and the Japanese-
Americans of Hawaii proved themselves in battle. Over 10,000 men volunteered to fight for the Army. For their size and length of service they became the most decorated soldiers in the US Army. 21 Hawaii has not forgotten Pearl Harbor and there is a memorial stand over the sunken US Arizona that gets paid tribute every year from people all around the world. Not far from the memorial is the ISIS Missouri where the Japanese signed their surrender. It stands as a monument to the bravery and selflessness of those who were there that day in Pearl Harbor.