December 2, 2016
NETPDC names 2016 Civilian of the Year; See page B2 Spotlight
DAY OF ‘Infamy’ at
Dec. 7, 1941, raid on Navy anchorage, air bases drew U.S. into war Story, photo from Naval History and Heritage Command
he Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was one of the defining moments in history. A single carefully planned and well-executed stroke removed the United States Navy’s battleship force as a possible threat to the Japanese Empire’s southward expansion. America, unprepared and now considerably weakened, was abruptly brought into World War II as a full combatant.
Eighteen months earlier, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had transferred the United States fleet to Pearl Harbor as a presumed deterrent to Japanese agression. The Japanese military, deeply engaged in the seemingly endless war it had started against China in mid-1937, badly needed oil and other raw materials. Commercial access to these was gradually curtailed as the conquests continued. In July 1941, the Western powers effectively halted trade with Japan. From then on, as the desperate Japanese schemed to seize the oil and mineral-rich East Indies and Southeast Asia, a Pacific war was virtually inevitable. By late November 1941, with peace negotiations clearly ap-
proaching an end, informed U.S. officials (and they were well-informed, they believed, through an ability to read Japan’s diplomatic codes) fully expected a Japanese attack into the Indies, Malaya and probably the Philippines. Completely unanticipated was the prospect that Japan would attack east, as well. The U.S. fleet’s Pearl Harbor base was reachable by an aircraft carrier force, and the Japanese navy secretly sent one across the Pacific with greater aerial striking power that had ever been seen on the world’s oceans. Its planes hit just before 8 a.m. Dec. 7. Within a short time five of eight battleships at Pearl Harbor were sunk or sinking, with the rest damaged. Several other ships and most
Sailors in a motor launch rescue a survivor from the water alongside the sunken USS West Virginia (BB 48) during or shortly after the Japanese air attack on Pearl Harbor. Note the extensive distortion of West Virginia’s lower amidships structure, caused by torpedoes that exploded below that location.
Hawaii-based combat planes were also knocked out and more than 2,400 Americans were dead. Soon after, Japanese planes eliminated much of the American air force in the Philippines and a Japanese army element was ashore in Malaya. These great Japanese successes, achieved without prior diplomatic formalities, shocked and enraged the previously di-
vided American people into a level of purposeful unity hardly seen before or since. For the next five months, until the Battle of the Coral Sea in early May, Japan’s far-reaching offensives proceeded untroubled by fruitful opposition. American and Allied morale suffered accordingly. Under normal political circumstances, an accomodation might have been considered.
However, the memory of the “sneak attack” on Pearl Harbor fueled a determination to fight on. Once the Battle of Midway in early June 1942 had eliminated much of Japan’s striking power, that same memory stoked a relentless war to reverse its conquests and remove its German and Italian allies as future threats to world peace.
“I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” – attributed to Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, in the movie “Tora, Tora Tora.” There is no historical proof Yamamoto ever wrote or uttered these words, however. In his biography of Yamamoto, “The Reluctant Admiral,” author Hiroyuki Agawa relates a somewhat similar quote written by Yamamoto Jan. 9, 1941, to Japanese journalist Ogata Taketora: “A military man can scarcely pride himself on having ‘smitten a sleeping enemy’; it is more a matter of shame, simply, for the one smitten. I would rather you made your appraisal after seeing what the enemy does, since it is certain that, angered and outraged, he will soon launch a determined counterattack.”
Word Search ‘Ships at Pearl Harbor’ T X N B V B F D R Y N P H R G
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Gosling Games Color Me ‘Flat top’
Jokes & Groaners Humor in the service The sergeant growled at the young Soldier, “I didn’t see you at camouflage training this morning!” With a broad grin, the Soldier replied, “Thank you very much, sergeant.” An officer was addressing a squad of 25 and said, “I have a nice easy job for the laziest man here. Put up your hand if you are the laziest.” All but one raised their hands. The officer asked the last man, “Why didn’t you raise your hand?” The man replied, “It was too much work, sir.” Q: What’s the difference between mechanical engineers and civil engineers? A: Mechanical engineers build weapons; civil engineers build targets. At one military base, the annual trip to the rifle range had been canceled for the second year in a row, but the semi-annual physical fitness test was still on as planned. One service man mused, “Does it bother anyone else that they don’t seem to care how well we can shoot, but they are extremely interested in how fast we can run?”
Weekly newspaper for Naval Air Station Pensacola