The Attack on Pearl Harbor

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On Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked the United States (U.S.) Naval Base Pearl Harbor. The sound of machine guns broke the silence. This attack was a well-planned mission. But why did the Japanese choose to attack Pearl Harbor? This paper will further discuss the Background, The Attack, and The Aftermath of Pearl Harbor.

Tension is now beginning to root itself between the U.S. and Japan. The world is now watching Europe and Asia see what will happen. Then in 1931, Japan makes its move and invades the small province Manchuria in Northern China. At the time, Manchuria was considered ‘Resource-Rich’. The tension continues to grow along with conflicting interests in China and Asia from the U.S. and Japan. The U.S. and Japan try to solve their disagreements by negotiating. But negotiations soon fail, and Japan pulls out! The U.S. then sanctions Japan to stop them from trying to invade other countries, but to no avail.

After the U.S. sanctions Japan, Japan then begins to build an empire. After invading Manchuria, Japan sets up its Puppet State, and they called it Manchukuo. Then in 1937, to sway the U.S. from taking further action against them, Japan kills 300,000 Chinese citizens. This event is known as the Nanking Massacre. This marks the beginning of Japan’s bloody expansion. The U.S. stopped all trade with Japan and told the countries that made up the League of Nations that they should not trade or do business with Japan.

In 1939, Germany invades Poland. This is what started World War II (WWII). Then in 1940, Japan signs the Tripartite Pact which then cemented their spot in the Axis Powers along with Germany and Italy. U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt froze all Japanese assets in the U.S., and the U.S. also put an embargo on Japan and cut off all exportation of U.S. Oil, Steel, and Scrap Iron to Japan.

In May of 1940, The U.S. named Pearl Harbor the new home of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The Japanese Admiral (Adm.) Isoroku Yamamoto proposes the idea of attacking Pearl Harbor to Japanese Officers. On January 27, 1941, the United States Ambassador to Japan, Joseph C. Grew wired a message to Washington’s District of Columbia (D.C.) telling them that Japan plans on attacking Pearl Harbor. D.C. tells Grew that if War broke out between the U.S. and Japan, Japan would attack Manila Bay in the Philippines. Then in February, D.C. names Adm. Husband E. Kimmel the new commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet stationed in Hawaii.

Lieutenant (Lt.) General (Gen.) Walter C. Short begins preparations to defend the island. By September, the Japanese had gotten their hands on a grid-map of ship locations in Pearl Harbor. But by November, Tokyo had sent an experienced diplomat to Washington as a cover for their plan to attack Pearl Harbor. The Japanese Submarines were the very first ships to depart from Mainland Japan on November 16, 1941. Then 10 days later, the main body of the Japanese Armada depart from the Mainland. This consisted of 6 aircraft carriers and 24 destroyers.

On the calm Sunday morning of December 7, 1941, the soldiers stationed at Pearl Harbor and surrounding Airfields wake up to the sound of machine gun fire and explosions. At 7:53 A.M. Hawaiian Time, Japanese Ariel Capitan Misuto Fuchida breaks radio silence saying, “TORA! TORA! TORA!” which translated to English means “TIGER! TIGER! TIGER!” This is the coded message meaning ‘We have caught the Americans off guard.’ Then at 7:58 A.M. Hawaiian Time, this message is broadcasted across all bases on Oahu, “AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR! THIS IS NOT A DRILL!”

The Japanese used two waves of fighters to bomb Pearl Harbor. The Air Assault consisted of 43 fighters, 51 dive bombers, 49 high dive bombers, and 40 torpedo bombers. This onslaught lasted from 8:00 to roughly 10:00 A.M. Then the joke was on Washington. First, they claimed that Japan would attack the Philippines. They also never shared crucial information that could have saved thousands of lives. Ultimately, Washington was wrong!

The whole country was in shock. People asked questions like “How?” and “Why?” The answer to the first question is Japan had been using Political Stunts and Diplomatic Business Trips as cover. They also had the Nazi War Machine tearing through Europe. They wanted to be sure that the U.S. would be so preoccupied with their diversions that they will not even pay them any attention while they sneak in through the back door. They also traveled in complete radio silence.

The answer to why is found in the fact that Japan wanted to cripple the U.S.’s presence in the Pacific so they could be the Master of the Pacific. The Morning of December 7, the troops stationed at Pearl Harbor also woke up to the loud hum of the first wave of Japanese Bombers and Fighters. The Air Raid could have been prevented if Washington would have alerted Adm. Kimmel and Lt. Gen. Short of their discoveries. Also, by doing some digging and not brushing a message ‘under the rug’.

The Japanese Aircraft had their strength in numbers, and in the fact that they blindsided the U.S. on December 7. They had the upper hand and that is how they were successful in destroying Pearl Harbor’s ‘Battleship Row’. Every ship in ‘Battleship Row’ was either damaged or destroyed. Most of the casualties on December 7 came from the sinking of the U.S.S. Arizona. It was sunk when a Japanese bomb detonated the powder magazine inside the ship killing 1,177 crewmembers and officers. The U.S.S. Oklahoma capsized after several Japanese torpedoes hit it during the attack killing 429 crew members.

The U.S.S. California was sunk after 2 torpedoes hit it on both port sides inflict identical damage instantly. Then a 250-kilogram bomb exploded on the Anti-Aircraft ammunition magazine. The combined attacks killed 150 crewmen. It was later found to have extensive flooding damage, but it was not a total loss. It was later repaired and put back into service. Then after that, the U.S.S. West Virginia was sunk by 6 Japanese torpedoes. The U.S. later salvaged the wreck in May of 1942 by draining the water that was inside the hull. Next came the U.S.S. Cassin and Downes.

The two destroyers were in a dry dock in Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941. During the attack, a Japanese incendiary bomb hit the fuel tanks and ignited them. The Downes was dislodged and came to rest on the Cassin. After both were destroyed by uncontrollable fires, they were too far gone to be fixed. The U.S. salvaged what they could of their Machinery and Equipment and sent them to the Mare Island Navy Yard. There the salvaged parts of the wrecked ships were built into entirely new ships.

Then the Japanese fighters sank the U.S.S. Oglala. It was hit by a single Japanese torpedo and began to rapidly take on water. The U.S. salvaged her in 1942. After she was later redesignated to be an internal combustion engine repair ship. She continued to serve the Navy until being retired in 1965. The one ship to get a few shots off was the U.S.S. Nevada. But she was then hit by a sing Japanese torpedo and six Japanese bombs. She was beached at Hospital Point. She was repaired and then was assigned as a convoy escort and fire support ship in the Atlantic later in the war.

For many civilians, the sounds and sights they were exposed to were bone-chilling and just flat out horrifying. Imagine hearing the screams of soldiers trapped in capsized vessels or the screams of the wounded, lying on the ground dying. The soldiers on the ships also saw the oil and gas from ships just leaking into the sea. Some of this oil was ablaze from the explosions coming from sinking ships. The troops also saw their fellow servicemembers floating dead in the ocean. The troops that survived the attack of December 7, 1941, told how the water of the Pacific turned into an ocean of Blood.

Even though the attack looked like a complete disaster, there was a saving grace for the U.S. All three U.S. aircraft carriers were not in port. The names of the three carriers were the U.S.S. Yorktown, the U.S.S. Enterprise, and the U.S.S. Saratoga. The U.S.S. Yorktown was on the other side of the continent in Virginia. The U.S.S. Enterprise was also not in port on that fateful Sunday morning. The U.S.S. Saratoga was entering a dock in San Diego, California on the morning of December 7.

Cite this paper

The Attack on Pearl Harbor. (2021, Jun 24). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-attack-on-pearl-harbor/

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