Pearl Harbor History
Before the Attack
While Pearl Harbor is most known for the attack that occurred on December 7th, 1941, it has always had an interesting history. At one time there were abundant pearls, shark gods and was nicknamed the “island of attraction”.
The English ship Butterworth, under Captain William Brown, entered Honolulu Harbor in 1793. Captain Cook passed it on his famous voyage in 1778 because there was coral at the entrance of the harbor. The coral rock was blasted away in 1902 and sand a rock was dredged to allow large vessels to enter the locks.
The violent interference with the harbor was said to upset the shark goddess Ka’ahupahau and Hawaiians soon predicted trouble. Many tragic incidents followed as work continued in Pearl Harbor.
Read More about the History of Pearl Harbor before the attack
The Japanese Attack
Despite a submarine spotted at 3:42am at the mouth of Pearl Harbor and despite the 7:10am call to HQ about the planes on the radar, the attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise. Japanese forces struck ground targets at Wheeler field: aircraft, hangars, base buildings. They knew that as soon as they torpedoed the ships, Americans would retaliate. Without airfields or planes, retaliation would be minimized.
Read More about the Pearl Harbor Attack
After the Attack
There was a staggering 2,390 casualties from 44 states, Washington DC, Guam, Hawaii, the Philippines, and Canada. The Japanese had 64 killed. The US Pacific Fleet had 21 ships sunk or heavily damaged with 164 aircraft lost and 159 damaged. The attack was seen as a victory for Japan.
Admiral Yamamoto was right when he said that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor awakened a sleeping giant. Americans became united against a common enemy. Now that American lives had been lost, the country could no longer remain isolationist.
Read More about what happened After the Attack
Commanders in Pearl Harbor History
Admiral in command of the Imperial Japanese Navy Combined Fleets was Isoroku Yamamoto. Yamamoto had lived in the United States and was educated at Harvard University. Although he knew the industrial capacities of the United States, he planned the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Read more about Admiral Yamamoto
Admiral Husband E. Kimmel was the naval commander at Pearl Harbor during the attack. He was not happy with the land and air defense arrangements of Pearl Harbor and Hawaii. He made sure his feelings were known, but Washington did little to improve the situation.
Lt. General Walter C. Short commanded the army in Hawaii, which at the time of the attack was responsible for land and air defense. While these commanders did not have an open rivalry, both Short and Kimmel were competing for allocations in order to defend their bases.
The American public wanted to find fault in the aftermath of the attack. The obvious answer was the commanders at the time of the attack. They spent their lives being blamed for the US failures at Pearl Harbor only to be exonerated posthumously by the senate in 1999. Whether information was intentionally withheld from them or not is the most controversial question in Pearl Harbor history.
Read more about the people involved at Pearl Harbor
March 5, 2020
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February 7, 2020
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January 14, 2020
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August 22, 2019
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May 9, 2019
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October 24, 2018
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June 25, 2018
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February 9, 2018
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July 31, 2017
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July 29, 2017
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July 14, 2017
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July 10, 2017
For Cornelia Clark Fort, as for most other Americans, December 7th, 1941 began as a quiet Sunday morning. It started out as an otherwise normal day as she embarked on... Read More
June 30, 2017
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May 8, 2017
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May 3, 2017
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April 15, 2017
On December 7th, 1941, Mitsuo Fuchida was an enemy to the United States, but much changed over the course of his life. By the time he died in 1976, Fuchida's change of heart had... Read More
April 11, 2017
Everybody had their jobs. For Wesley Hoyt Ruth, on December 7th, 1941, when the Japanese started bombing Pearl Harbor, his job was of the utmost importance: locate the Japanese fleet... Read More
March 25, 2017
Before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Navy men like John S. Harper were simply doing their jobs. They woke up, got dressed, and engaged in their daily activities just... Read More
March 22, 2017
Who was the mind behind Pearl Harbor? War with the United States was inevitable. Though the Americans refused to pick up arms and join the battle, it would only be... Read More
March 10, 2017
Early on the morning of December 7, 1941, George E. Elliott, Jr. was manning new radar equipment, a state-of-the-art SCR-270, on the northern tip of Oahu alongside fellow serviceman Joseph... Read More