The Attack on Pearl Harbor

The Attack on Pearl Harbor

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The Japanese planned a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and struck at 7:55 A.M. on December 7th, 1941. This attack led to President Franklin Roosevelt asking Congress for a Declaration of War. This was the event that led to the United States entering World War II.
The United States was mad at Japan for invading Manchuria in 1931. We were worried about the Japanese military. That is why President Roosevelt moved our Pacific Fleet to Pearl Harbor. After many months of talking, the Japanese broke off negotiations with the United States on December 6, 1941. We had made an offer to them and they never replied to the offer. The U.S. knew that the Japanese were probably going to attack us soon. We didn’t know where the attack would be. Most military officers thought it would be in the South Pacific. They were partly right and wrong. Nobody really thought the Japanese would attack our fleet at Pearl Harbor in the east even though we knew it was possible for an aircraft carrier attack to hit there.
The Japanese secretly sent a large naval fleet toward Pearl Harbor. It was the largest fleet of its type in history. The purpose of the mission was to wipe out the U.S. Pacific Fleet so the Japanese could continue to take control of the South Pacific area. Our fleet was the only real threat to their military plan.
When the Japanese planes left the aircraft carriers to attack Pearl Harbor they were detected by our radar operators. The radar operators assumed they were either a large group of birds or some U.S. planes out on a training mission. The first attack by the Japanese started at 7:55 am. Our ships were lined up next to each other. This made them easy targets for the Japanese pilots. In just a short period of time, five of our eight destroyers were sunk and the rest badly damaged. A second wave of Japanese planes also attacked Pearl Harbor. They continued to attack our ships and also attacked our airfields. One type of ship they didn’t sink was our aircraft carriers. They looked for them but never found them. They were out doing some training missions. The Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor destroyed 188 airplanes.

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Human losses were 2,333 killed and 1,139 wounded.
The thing that really made our government and American people mad was that the Japanese diplomats in Washington D.C. never gave us their declaration of war until after the attack on Pearl Harbor was already happening. This was considered to be a “sneak” attack. The Americans who weren’t sure about us entering WWII were angry and ready to fight. In his war message to congress, President Roosevelt called December 7, 1941 a “date that will live in infamy.” Americans have never forgotten. One of the battleships sunk on that day was the USS Arizona. People by the thousands visit that memorial each month to honor and remember the victims of the attack. Bodies of the men killed on the Arizona that day are still in the ship underwater. A small drip of oil still goes to the surface from its fuel tanks. Pearl Harbor will never be forgotten.
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