This week marks the 75th anniversary of the surprise bombing at Pearl Harbor, a U.S. naval base in Hawaii, by Japanese forces. That attack led to the United States' entry into World War II. As President Franklin Delano Roosevelt stated to Congress the day after the attack, “December 7th, 1941, [is] a date which will live in infamy”.
Here are some other facts about the horrific event you probably didn’t know because you skipped a lot of history class. You’re welcome!
Plans to attack Pearl Harbor —called Operation Z— began to form as early as January 1941, almost a full year before the actual attack on December 7.
Apparently 30 minutes before the attack, Japan declared war on the U.S. However, a series of errors by typists and translators failed to deliver the message of war to Washington D.C. in time.
The Japanese Commander Mitsuo Fuchida called out “Tora! Tora! Tora!” which translates to “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!” upon flying over Pearl Harbor, signifying that the Japanese had caught the Americans off guard.
Four Japanese commanders who participated in the attack actually attended school in the U.S. — Admiral Yamamoto and Chief of the Naval General Staff Osami Nagano attended Harvard, Admiral Yamaguchi attended Princeton, and Admiral Arima went to Yale.
The crew of the USS Arizona was granted permission to sleep in the morning of the bombing because they had won a dance contest the night before.
It took about 40 seconds for the Americans to respond to the attacks.
As the USS Nevada began to move towards the open seas, three survivors from the USS Arizona swam to the ship and were rescued. They promptly requested to be assigned to a machine gun.
“Remember Pearl Harbor!” became a rallying cry for the U.S. throughout all of World War II.
Out of the eight battleships that sunk during that infamous day, all but two were eventually repaired and reused by the U.S. Navy. For example, the USS West Virginia and USS California were sunk completely, but the Navy raised and repaired them for use.
The USS Arizona still leaks fuel to this day. According to the History Channel, each day the ship spills up to nine quarts of oil into the harbor.
There are 21 windows in the memorial for the USS Arizona, representing a 21 gun salute in honor of the fallen.
Many tourists visiting Pearl Harbor today are from .. you guessed it .. Japan.
Jamie Layne is an executive office intern for the EastWest Institute. She recently graduated from Rutgers University with a bachelor’s in History and Political Science. She is currently applying to graduate schools to obtain her master’s in International Affairs.