Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

Ross Dunfee

It was still dark, at 3:42 a.m. on Dec. 7, 1941, when the minesweeper USS Condor AMc-14 saw a two-man Japanese submarine two miles from the mouth of Pearl Harbor. The USS Ward APD-16 that located and destroyed the submarine at 6:45 a.m., was herself sunk later that day by a kamikaze military aviator. With that, the attack at Pearl Harbor was first announced but not heeded. At 6:10 a.m., 183 fighters, bombers, and torpedo planes roared from the decks of six Japanese carriers headed in the first wave of attack. At 7:02 a.m. the first wave was spotted by the Opana Mobile Radar Station and reported to Admiral Husband Kimmel who decided to “wait for verification of the report.” It was believed that the radar station had identified 12 B-17’s secretly headed from California to Hawaii. Thus, the second attack announcement was not heeded.

At 7:49 a.m., disappointed Japanese pilots did not see any U.S. aircraft carriers (the carriers were on other missions), but with no activity at Pearl Harbor, the attack was ordered. Seeing a Japanese plane dropping a bomb, Commander Logan Ramsey ordered a telegraph sent at 7:55 a.m. to every ship reading, “Air raid on Pearl Harbor, this is not a drill.” An armor-piercing bomb penetrated the forward deck of the USS Arizona BB-39 at 8:10 a.m., igniting more than 1 million pounds of gunpowder. Nine minutes later, the ship and 1,177 sailors and marines were on the bottom of the bay.

To escape a sitting-duck position, the USS Helm DD-388 at 8:17 a.m. headed rapidly for open water when it spotted a two-man submarine. As the destroyer USS Monaghan DD-354 was also rapidly headed for open water, it fired on and depth charged the sub. The sub was destroyed, and the first war enemy was captured. As the battleship USS Nevada BB-36 headed for the ocean, a second wave of planes tried to sink the ship in the channel, but the damaged ship was intentionally grounded off Hospital Point, keeping the channel open.

At 8:54 a.m. the second wave of Japanese aircraft hit Pearl Harbor with 167 fighters, bombers, and high-altitude bombers—damage was substantial. The naval yard and dry docks received extensive damage. The battleship USS Pennsylvania BB-38 was damaged beyond operational capabilities. An oil tank between the destroyers USS Cassin DD-372 and USS Downes DD-375 was hit and damaged both vessels. The light cruiser USS Raleigh CL-7 was bombed after being hit by a torpedo in the first wave. After being bombed, bow parts of the USS Shaw DD-373 were found a half mile away. Except for the USS Arizona BB-39, USS Utah BB-31, and USS Oklahoma BB-37, every ship sunk or damaged at Pearl Harbor sailed and fought again.

At 10 a.m., not knowing the location of the U.S. aircraft carriers, a third wave of planes was canceled, and the Japanese carriers headed for home. At Pearl Harbor, barracks, dining halls, schools, and lawns were converted to hospitals, but 2,403 patriots sacrificed all. Forty-four months of bloodshed continued before Japan surrendered on Sept. 2, 1945. The USS West Virginia BB-48, a victim of the Pearl Harbor attack, was present to witness the surrender.

Support Our TroopsArizona on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is proud to present 430 U.S. flags on the principal roadways in Robson Ranch to honor those who protected our freedoms. To learn more about Support Our TroopsArizona, contact the SOTAZ president, Stephen Reeves, at reev[email protected], or visit the website at www.supportourtroopsaz.org.