“Day of Infamy”

In the early hours of Sunday, December 7, Japanese submarines of an advance expeditionary force launched five midget subs they had piggy-backed from Japan. Each two man 80 ft sub was armed with two torpedoes and an explosive charge in the bow for suicidal ramming. All five subs and all of their crews, except one man were lost. One was lost at sea; one was sunk outside the Harbor by the USS Ward; one entered Pearl Harbor through an open submarine net and was sunk when it was rammed by USS Monaghan. The fourth could not steer properly and beached on the windward side of Oahu, its surviving crew member becoming the first Japanese prisoner of war. It is unknown what happened to the fifth submarine, but it is believed to have been sunk during the raid.

0342 – USS Condor, on routine mine-sweeping patrol, spots the periscope of one of the midget subs in restricted waters off the entrance to the Harbor. USS Condor‘s skipper thinks the sub is probably one of ours that strayed into a restricted area by mistake. Nevertheless, since he has no guns or depth charges himself, he sends a message to the captain of the destroyer USS Ward on patrol nearby.

0500 – Two reconnaissance planes take off to scout Pearl Harbor and Lahaina Roads, Maui.

0600 – The first wave of 183 planes is launched.

0630 – USS Ward observes a submarine trailing the supply ship USS Antares into the Harbor and sinks her. The commanding officer sends a message informing the fleet commander.

0706 – Two army privates, manning a mobile radar station in the hills above Opana Point, contact a lone a/c but are not alarmed. However, soon afterward they receive signals of many more approaching planes so they report to the officer at Ft. Shafter who decides it is a formation of Army B-17s expected in Hawaii that day or a/c from the USS Enterprise and tells the soldiers not to worry about it.

0748 – The first Japanese bombs land at Kaneohe Naval Air Station.

0755 – Hicham Air Field and Wheeler Air Field are hit simultaneously.

0757 – The cruiser USS Raleigh is the first ship in Pearl Harbor to be hit, taking a torpedo in her port side. Within seconds, USS Utah takes two direct hits and USS Helena is hit by a torpedo directly amidship. Her clock stops at 0757.

0800 – As the band plays the national anthem and the flag is being raised, the decks of the USS Nevada are strafed by attacking planes. Not one member of the band or the Marine Corps color guard is hit, but the flag is in shreds.

0805 – Bombs begin falling in Honolulu. Roads leading to Pearl Harbor are strafed and three civilian employees on their way to work are killed. On a local radio station, announcer Webley Edwards repeats over and over, “This is not a maneuver…this is the real McCoy!” At Hickam Field, three civilian firemen are killed and elsewhere city and plantation firemen are frantically battling blazing fires.

Later assessments show that shells fell in 40 locations in the city; 68 civilians were killed, others were seriously wounded or hurt by the explosions, fores and falling debris.

0850 – The second wave of 167 planes reaches Pearl Harbor and is met by a concentrated screen of antiaircraft fire from Americans finally able to mobilize and attempt retaliation.

After 0800 – The 12 B-17 bombers expected earlier at Hickam Field arrive to a scene of of chaos and confusion, and an angry swarm of Japanese Zeros. The American planes had been disarmed to lighten the load and so have no means of defending themselves. However, though under ferocious attack, all manage to land safely.

Soon after – 18 dive bombers from the carrier USS Enterprise arrive and are greeted with hostile fire from both Japanese and nervous Americans. Thirteen of the USS Enterprise planes finally land at Ford Island and Ewa, but only nine of them are undamaged. The survivors are refueled and take off at 1210 to join a vain hunt for the enemy force.

Between 0800 & 1100 – At Hickam and Wheeler Fields, a/c conveniently grouped together on the runways, are devastated by enemy bombs and strafing. On the windward side of the island at Kaneohe, seaplanes on the ground are smashed and burned and personnel slaughtered in deadly strafing. Of an estimated 394 planes at Oahu air fields that morning, only 11 fighters become airborne.

At Pearl Harbor, the devastation continues. The waters around Ford Island are covered with a violently flaming oil slick engulfing the wounded men trying desperately to reach safety. Heroic acts are common place as small boats brave the burning sea to rescue the dying.

1000 – The last planes of the 2nd wave depart to return to the Japanese carriers which have now edged 40 miles closer to the scene of battle.

1300 – All but 29 planes are safe aboard the Japanese carriers. Japanese pilots and personnel aboard the ships in the armada are ecstatic. They can not believe the completeness of the surprise, their incredibly low casualty rate, and the absence of any effective resistance. They are sure they have dealt a death blow to the American military structure. The Japanese commander of the air attack urgently recommends that the planes be refueled and allowed to return and attack again, but Fleet Commander Nuaumo refuses.

1330 – The Japanese task force turns and heads for home.

Let Us Not Forget Those Who Have Gone Before Us

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