A BOOK INSPIRED THE JAPANESE WAR PLAN
Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto conceived the Pearl Harbor attack, and Captain Minoru Genda planned it. Two things inspired Yamamoto’s Pearl Harbor idea: a prophetic book and a historic attack. The Great Pacific War was written in 1925 by Hector Bywater, a British naval authority. It was a realistic account of a clash between the United States and Japan that began with the Japanese destruction of the U.S. fleet and proceeded to a Japanese attack on Guam and the Philippines. When Britain’s Royal Air Force successfully attacked the Italian fleet at Taranto on November 11, 1940, Yamamoto was convinced that Bywater’s fiction could become a reality.
The Navy was warned…In 1914 workers began building Pearl Harborʻs first dry dock. Hawaiians gave warning that they were building the dock over the shark guardians cave. The prediction of doom was ignored but shortly after the docks completion, it collapsed in a torrent of timber and water. The Navy built another dock but this time consulted a Hawaiian priest who offered chants and prayers to the shark gods. After completion workers pumped the water out of the new dry dock and it held. They discovered the body of a 14 ft shark lay in the bottom of the new dock.
PEARL HARBOR WAS ATTACKED TO PROTECT THE INVASION OF “SOUTHERN RESOURCE AREA”
Japanʻs naval forces depended on the United States to supply natural and industrial resources (namely, oil), without which its forces would be significantly impaired. This led Japan to target Southeast Asia, rich in minerals and oil. While they knew that such an invasion would lead to war against America, Japan decided to destroy America’s Pacific Fleet to prevent American interference in its plan to access countries’ resources in Southeast Asia, which Japan called “Southern Resource Area.”
Gas/oil needs fueled the attack. “Sapphire Promise,” the memoir I wrote of a dear friend’s life from 1939 – 45 in Java, Indonesia, details how the horrific attack impacted her coming of age an ocean away.
THE ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR LASTED FOR ABOUT TWO HOURS
Coming in from all directions, at 7:55 am on Sunday morning, the defenders had no idea which direction they should fire. Wave-after-wave, Japanese planes arrived targeting airstrips, ships, buildings, and storage areas.
Dive bombers, fighters, torpedo bombers, and high-level bombers blanketed the sky, dropping their deadly payloads across the island of Oahu. The two waves of aircraft enacted a heavy toll on their targets, namely battleship row.
THE SURPRISE ATTACK DID NOT DESTROY THE ENTIRE AMERICAN PACIFIC FLEET
In the surprise attack on ‘Battleship Row’ on December 7th, the Arizona and Oklahoma were damaged beyond repair by bombs or torpedo hits; most ships returned to service. Of the 2,026 American sailors and marines killed in the attack, 1,606 had been aboard these two ships.
Three more battleships (the California, West Virginia, and Nevada) sank upright in the shallow water of the harbor. They were salvaged, and while many vessels did not return to the battlefield for several years, most suffered repairable damage. The Battleship Missouri is now anchored there.
Though devastating as it was the US Navy only permanently lost 2 ships in the attack on Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona, and the USS Oklahoma. All the other damaged ships were refloated and repaired, many within 6 months. This is because the Japanese failed to bomb the nearby repair facilities and dry docks. They also failed to damage any of the aircraft carriers who were out of port during the raid. The Japanese mistakenly believed battleships would play the main roll in naval combat. It turned out that aircraft at sea would be the main weapon that would lead to the deadly demise of the Japanese Navy. Although the attack on Pearl Harbor took the island by surprise, eight Army Air Force pilots managed to get airborne. Six pilots received credit for shooting down at least one Japanese airplane during the attack
HOW MANY PEOPLE DIED IN PEARL HARBOR?
On December 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan attacked the military installations in and around Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, HI. The 2-hour attack killed 103 civilians and 2,335 military personnel, including 2,008 Navy seamen (1,177 from the blown up USS Arizona alone), 109 Marines, and 218 Army personnel. Japanese pilots and submariners damaged 19 ships and damaged or destroyed more than 300 aircraft. However, as devastating as the attack first appeared, only three ships—the USS Arizona (BB-39), Oklahoma (BB-37), and Utah (AG-16)—were complete losses. (There were 1178 wounded.)
Families served together on naval warships. Tje Battleship Arizona had 23 sets of brothers. There were from 37 different families in pairs or trios for a total of 77 men. Only 15 of them survived, which was devastating. This policy was changed due to the tragic events of this day, but many brothers still served together throughout the war nonetheless.
Over the next 4 years, the United States sent approximately 16.1 million men and women to fight a global war that consumed much of the European continent, deserts of North Africa, and the steamy jungles and barren volcanic islands and coral atolls scattered across the Pacific Ocean.
In July 1944, the battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48), the last of the Pearl Harbor attack’s most heavily damaged but repairable ships, returned to service. The “Wee-Vee” saw action off the coast of Leyte, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. On September 2, 1945, the West Virginia anchored in Tokyo Bay as the United States accepted Japan’s formal surrender, ending World War II. To honor the Pearl Harbor survivor, the U.S. Navy asked the West Virginia’s band to perform during the surrender ceremony aboard the USS Missouri.
WWII survivors are dying quickly—according to US Department of Veterans Affairs statistics, 167,284 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II were alive as of Sep 30, 2022.
San Antonio, TX is home to the youngest living World War II veteran. Like many Americans, Bob Kelso signed up to fight in World War Two in 1944. But – he was only 13 years old. He was sent into battle and wounded – one of the youngest Americans ever to receive the Purple Heart at 14 – when he played a role in liberating France. Born in 1930 he was sent home, but sighed up again and served 20 years in the Air Force and. He’s been a generous philanthropist.
My father fought in the Pacific. I wish I would’ve learned more about this horrific part of our history from him. Writing the memoir opened my eyes. I’ll never forget the date.