WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Did you know that Dec. 7 is Pearl Harbor Day?
Eighty-one years ago, the Japanese Imperial Navy launched a surprise attack on the United States. The attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii led to the United States declaring war and officially entering into World War II, which had begun two years prior.
While most Americans know quite a bit about the attack thanks to educators and the many films and television programs that have been made over the years about it, however, here are some things you may not know about the attack on Pearl Harbor.
1. The American Naval Fleet at Pearl Harbor wasn’t the only target
The attack didn’t just focus on the American Naval fleet. Airfields and bases across the island of Oahu were targeted, including Hickam Field, Wheeler Field, Bellows Field, Ewa Field, Schoefield Barracks, and Kaneohe Naval Air Station.
2. Our fleet wasn’t wiped out in the attack
For as bad as the attack was, it did not hold the Navy back long. The only ships that were permanently destroyed in the attack ended up being the USS Arizona and USS Oklahoma, which were the hardest hit.
However, because of how shallow the waters were at Pearl Harbor, and because it happened right at the base, the other damaged ships were both easy to recover and repair. Some returned to service within months, with the final ships, the USS California and USS West Virginia returning to service in 1944.
3. Our air carriers, who were a major target, weren’t there
One of the chief targets of the Japanese, aircraft carriers, were left unharmed. The USS Enterprise and USS Lexington were out to sea, and the USS Saratoga was at San Diego. It was the fact that the carriers were left unharmed that would eventually turn the tide in the war in the Pacific.
4. The attack on Pearl Harbor was just one of many coordinated attacks by Japan carried out on Dec. 7
Pearl Harbor was just one part of a much larger operation by Imperial Japanese forces that began on Dec. 7. They also launched attacks on British-controlled Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, French-controlled Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, and the US-controlled Guam, Philippines, and Wake Island.
5. The attack’s planner knew it would only buy them six months, and they would eventually lose the war
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who planned the attack, warned fellow leaders that the attack would eventually lead to Japan losing the war.
Yamamoto had lived in the United States as part of a Japanese military attache and had seen America’s industrialization in comparison to his own country. He knew they could not compete with the country’s ability to mobilize, which had already begun prior to the attack. He told his fellow officers that the attack would only buy Imperial Japan six months before America would fully mobilize.
It turned out to be prophetic as, exactly six months later, the United States won the Battle of Midway, where the tide of the war in the Pacific began to turn and placed Japan on the defensive.