76 years ago, Dec 7th, the U. S. military installation in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was suddenly attacked by the Imperial Japanese naval service. This attack caught the American military by surprise, sinking or damaging 18 ships, destroying 350 aircraft, and resulting in the deaths of 2,403 sailors, soldiers, and civilians and wounding another 1,000.
Why attack Pearl Harbor?
In an attempt to thwart Japan’s expansionist actions in Asia, America had issued economic sanctions and trade embargoes against them. Assuming that without money and goods, like oil, Japan would curb its expansionism. But instead, Japan held its ground. After a month of negotiations, neither side would budge and war appeared imminent.
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the base of America’s Pacific Fleet, was the perfect point for such an attack. Located 2,000 miles from the U. S. mainland and about 4,000 miles from Japan, military leaders were not expecting an attack there and consequently it was relatively undefended. To the Japanese, however, it was the perfect target – the home of almost the entire naval fleet. With America’s naval vessels destroyed, Japan would be free to continue its expansion.
As a result, America declared war on Japan and entered World War II. Just three days later, Japan’s allies Germany and Italy declared war on America as well. Americans fought on two fronts – European and Pacific. They were responsible for ending the Pacific front battles by using atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. American soldiers fought with British and Russian allies on the European front.
Local Pearl Harbor Survivors Remember
Pensacola has two remaining Pearl Harbor Survivors. Their stories share personal details of the attack.
Frank Emond, a Navy musician, on the stern of the USS Pennsylvania, shares his account of the beginning of the attack.
William Braddock, a Marine, at breakfast on Ford Island, located in the center of Pearl Harbor, had a close up view of the mayhem.
The battles extended until 1945. Over 400,000 American citizens made the ultimate sacrifice defending freedom and democracy. The courage and resolve of our military extend today as they protect and secure our nation. We must always Remember Pearl Harbor.
Two upcoming ceremonies will honor our local Pearl Harbor Survivors Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, 3 PM at the Rotary Tree of Remembrance ceremony in the Food Court of Cordova Mall and also on Thursday Dec. 7, 2017 at the World War II Remembrance ceremony, 10 AM, at National Naval Museum located on NAS Pensacola.