The Notable Names of Pearl Harbor

October 09, 2017

Any event that looms as large in the timeline of American history as the attack on Pearl Harbor is bound to leave a number of names and details that define it. From the types of armament used by Japan’s assaulting forces to the American ships targeted and damaged during the attack, there is a lot to remember when it comes to the events of December 7th, 1941.

The more you learn about the devastating attack, the more likely it is that you’ll come across certain names—on both sides of the attack—again and again. Here are some that you’ll definitely hear about as you dig deeper into the history of the Pearl Harbor attack.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

President of the United States in December of 1941, Roosevelt has sometimes been accused of having advance knowledge about the attack on Pearl Harbor, although no conclusive evidence has surfaced to support such a theory. Within 24 hours of the attack, Roosevelt delivered his “Infamy” speech, pleading with the US Congress to approve a declaration of war with Japan.


Husband E. Kimmel

Commander-in-Chief of the United States Fleet at the time of the attack, Admiral Kimmel wound up being the scapegoat when it came to assigning blame for the many missteps that occurred in the days leading up to the Japanese assault. Many blamed him for not appropriately preparing Pearl Harbor for the assault, and claimed his negligence led to the tragedy. Decades later, the US Senate finally passed a resolution clearing Kimmel of any wrongdoing.

Doris Miller

Doris Miller

Admiral Chester W Nimitz presents the Navy Cross to Petty Officer Doris Miller

Serving aboard the USS West Virginia, Miller ended up becoming a hero to many during the attack. He was first called upon to help move the mortally wounded captain and then, despite being a Messman with no experience with the available weaponry, took up arms against the incoming bombers. When the attack slowed down, Miller assisted in moving injured soldiers and was recognized for saving lives that otherwise would have been lost. He was awarded the Navy Cross for his heroic actions that day, making him the first African-American recipient of the medal.



Emperor of Japan at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. Hirohito was responsible for approving the attack on Pearl Harbor and though he initially had hesitation, he eventually gave the order to commence the attack in early December, 1941.

Mitsuo Fuchida

Leader of the Pearl Harbor Striking Force, Fuchida was the source of the infamous phrase “Tora! Tora! Tora!” when he realized the fleet had succeeded in reaching their target without being detected. He later moved to the United States and became a Christian evangelist.

Shigenori Nishikaichi

Wreckage of Nishikaichi's Zero BII 120 on Niihau

During the Pearl Harbor attack, fighter pilot Nishikaichi crash-landed his Zero BII 120on the Hawaiian island of Ni’ihau. The so-called Niihau Incident resulted after Nishikaichi was taken prisoner and manipulated a local Japanese-Hawaiian family to help him escape. The incident ended with the deaths of the pilot and one of the men who aided him. Fragments from Nishikaichi’s plane are on display at the Pacific Aviation Museum, one of the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites on Ford Island.

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