In the sparkling blue waters off the coast of Oahu, the massive hulk of the USS Arizona sits frozen, a snapshot of tragedy from more than seventy years ago. A watery tomb for many of the ship’s crew, the sunken remnant represents the first American casualties of a war destined to consume the entire world.
To this day, the Arizona mourns her fallen crew. Seven decades later, tiny droplets of oil continue to leak from the sunken battleship, collecting on the surface where visitors can observe these “Tears of the Arizona.” And the sense of mourning is mutual. Occasionally, when one of the ill-fated ship’s survivors dies, they elect to rejoin the fallen crew of the Arizona as their final resting place, a solemn act that reunites the comrades in death.
During the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, 2,403 Americans were killed as Japanese pilots bombed the eight battleships stationed there. Another 1,178 were wounded during the attack. Four of the eight battleships were sunk and hundreds of planes were destroyed. It was an act of unprovoked terror that shocked the nation and the world, which would lead us to join the Allies in World War II.
6. Ford Island Seaplane Base
Despite the intensity and chaos of the attack, a few photographs of the devastation exist, snapped during and in the immediate aftermath of the surprise attack. They tell a story of a wounded nation, filled with terrible resolve. Indeed, the sleeping giant was now wide awake and ready to avenge the losses at Pearl Harbor.
5. Current Day USS Arizona Memorial
In addition to the crippled battleships littering the harbor, Japanese aircraft strafed the nearby airfields. The burning and bullet-riddled frames of the U.S. fighters capture the true extent of the surprise, destroyed before they could even leave the ground.
4. Sinking of the USS Arizona
A break in the thick smoke choking the horizon reveals the towers of the badly damaged battleships, USS West Virginia and USS Tennessee. Moored side-by-side in the harbor’s Battleship Row, the pair of battleships fought valiantly to repel the Japanese aircraft while keeping the ships above water. Fifteen sailors received the Medal of Honor that day, including the Captain of the West Virginia when he refused to leave his post, even after an exploding shell mortally wounded him, instead directing his crew’s efforts.
3. Aircraft Destroyed
After spreading fires forced the crew to abandon the USS Shaw, the raging flames reached the ship’s forward magazine, resulting in a tremendous explosion and a spectacular photograph. But the Shaw also serves as a symbol of the military’s resilience. Despite the tremendous damage, the Navy repaired the Shaw within months of the attacks, and the destroyer would go on to serve throughout the war, earning eleven battled stars.
2. USS West Virginia and USS Tenessee
Tragic as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was, it was only a prelude to the looming devastation awaiting U.S. forces in the field of Europe and the Islands of the East Pacific.
1. Fire and Fury
As then President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, Dec. 7, 1941, is a date is “a date which will live in infamy.”Whizzco