December 7, 2008

American Interests remembers Pearl Harbor

To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.
George Washington

In two short minutes over 2,000 men lost their lives and many more died later as the Japanese attacked Midway, Thailand, Singapore, and Hong Kong. By day’s end, the damage done; 2,335 dead service members, 1,178 wounded, 640 unaccounted for, 48 civilians killed. 188 planes had been destroyed and 18 ships of different sizes had been sunk or damaged, including 8 damaged or destroyed battleships. Said President Roosevelt, "a date which will live in infamy...", Pearl Harbor thrust the United states of America into a contest of epic proportion, galvanizing as it were, American resolve - that celebrated spirit that could only end in victory.

With global expectations mounting for a fresh start in US foreign policy, it is imperative to both remember, and comprehend the attack on Pearl Harbor.


0342 - The minesweeper CONDOR sights a periscope off Honolulu Harbor and notifies the patrol destroyer WARD to investigate.

0458 - The minesweeper CROSSBILL and CONDOR enter Pearl Harbor. The defective submarine net remains open.

0600 - 200 miles south of Oahu the carrier ENTERPRISE launches 18 aircraft to scout ahead, then to land at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Estimated Time Arrival (ETA) 0800.

0610 - 220 miles north of Oahu, Admiral Nagumo orders the launching of the first wave of 183 aircraft off six carriers. Two are lost during takeoff.

0630 - The destroyer WARD is again notified of a submarine sighting, this time by the supply ship ANTARES off the entrance to Pearl Harbor. A PBY (a Navy patrol plane) is dispatched to the scene.

0645 - WARD opens fire on the submarine, hitting the conning tower and dropping depth charges as she closes in. An air attack by the PBY follows.

0653 - WARD'S commander Captain Outerbridge sends a message to the Commandant of the 14th Naval District: "We have attacked, fired upon and dropped depth charges upon submarine operating in defensive sea area."

0700 - Flying towards Oahu, Commander Fuchida directs his pilots to home in on local radio station.

0702 - Privates Lockhard and Elliott of Opana Radar Station pick up what appears to be a flight of unidentified aircraft bearing in 132 miles north of Oahu. Discussion follows.

0710 - Elliott phones the information in to Fort Shafter. The only person present at the Information Center is Lt. Tyler, having begun his on-the-job training Dec. 3. The conversation lasts ten minutes.

0715 - Capt. Outerbridge's attack message, delayed in decoding, is delivered to the duty officer, 14th Naval District, and to Admiral Kimmel's duty officer. The Japanese launch the second wave of 168 assault aircraft.

0720 - Lt. Tyler feels certain that the unidentified planes are B-17s scheduled to arrive from the mainland and instructs Opana station to shut down. Privates Elliott and Lockhard, however, continue to plot the incoming flight.

0733 - An important message from Washington from Gen Marshall to Short is received via RCA in Honolulu but the cablegram has no indication of priority. Messenger Tadao Fuchikami proceeds on normal route.

0735 - A reconnaissance plane from the cruiser CHIKUMA reports that the main fleet is in Pearl Harbor.

0739 - Opana Station loses the aircraft on radar 20 miles off the coast of Oahu due to the "dead zone" caused by the surrounding hills.

0740 - The first wave sights the North Shore of Oahu and deployment for the attack begins.

0749 - Commander Fuchida orders the attack: all pilots are to begin the assault on military bases on Oahu.

0753 - Fuchida radios the code to the entire Japanese Navy "TORA! TORA! TORA!" (Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!) Indicating success: maximum strategic surprise... Pearl Harbor caught unaware. The first Japanese assault wave commences.


0755 - 51 Val dive-bombers, 40 Kate torpedo bombers, 50 high level bombers and 43 Zero fighters begin the island-wide attack. Japanese dive-bombers strike airfields Kaneohe, Ford Island, Hickam, Bellows, Wheeler, and Ewa. Aerial torpedo planes begin their run on ships in Pearl Harbor. Along Battleship Row, Battlewagons feel the sting of the newly perfected torpedoes specifically designed for the shallow waters of Pearl Harbor. At 1010 dock violent explosions rock the light cruiser HELENA on her starboard side crippling both her and minelayer OGLALA moored beside her.

On the other side of Battleship Row, Ford Island, the target ship UTAH also feels the sting of the torpedoes, and, like the battleship OKLAHOMA, begins to capsize. The light cruiser RALEIGH, moored ahead of the UTAH, takes measures to prevent capsizing. Commander Logan Ramsey of Ford Island Command Center sends out a message for all radiomen on duty to send out in plain English: "AIR RAID PEARL HARBOR THIS IS NO DRILL!" A second dispatch orders all patrol planes to seek out the enemy. Simultaneously, the call for General Quarters echoes throughout Pearl Harbor. Each ship and their personnel in turn swing into action against the attacking Japanese, one quarter of all guns responding to the enemy.

0800 - B-17's from the mainland reach Oahu after a 14-hour flight, and aircraft from the carrier ENTERPRISE reach Ford Island. Both are caught between enemy and friendly fire.

0802 - Machine guns on the battleship NEVADA open fire on torpedo planes approaching her port beam. Two planes are hit. However, one missile tears a huge hole in the ship's port bow.

0805 - The repair ship VESTAL, moored outboard of battleship ARIZONA, opens fire. Admiral Kimmel arrives at CINCPAC headquarters. The battleship CALIFORNIA receives a second torpedo "portside at frame 110"; prompt action directed by Ensign Edgar M. Fain prevents the ship from capsizing. High-level bombers begin their run on Battleship Row.

0808 - KGMB radio interrupts music calling for: "All Army, Navy, and Marine personnel to report to duty." High-level bombers unleash armor-piercing, delayed-action bombs from an altitude of 10,000 feet, scoring hits on battleships.

0810 - A 1,760 pound air bomb penetrates into the forward magazine of the USS ARIZONA resulting in a tremendous explosion and huge fireball, sinking the battleship within nine minutes. The concussion of the explosion blows men off the repair ship VESTAL... 1,104 men aboard the USS ARIZONA battleship are killed.

0812 - General Short advises the entire Pacific Fleet and Washington, "Hostilities with Japan commenced with air raid on Pearl Harbor."

0815 - KGMB interrupts music with the second call ordering all military personnel to report for duty.

0817 - USS HELM, the first of several destroyers to clear Pearl Harbor, spots a midget submarine struggling to enter the harbor but shots fired miss the target. The sub frees itself from the reef and submerges.

0825 - Using a Browning Automatic Rifle, Lt. Stephen Saltzman and Sgt. Lowell Klatt shoot down an enemy plane making a strafing run on Schofield Barracks.

0826 - The Honolulu Fire Department responds to a call for assistance from Hickam Field. Three firemen are killed and six are wounded.

0830 - The third call goes out for the military via local radio stations.

0835 - The tanker NEOSHO, half-loaded with high-octane aviation fuel, moves clear of Battleship Row and oil tanks on Ford Island. Damage is reported in the city. Police warn civilians to leave the streets and return to their homes.

0839 - The seaplane tender CURTISS sights a midget sub in the harbor and commences fire while the destroyer MONAGHAN heads for the intruder at ramming speed.

0840 - The submarine surfaces after sustaining damage. MONAGHAN hits the sub and drops depth charges as she passes. First explanation over local radio stations: "A sporadic air attack... rising sun sighted on wing tips..."

0850 - Lt. Commander Shimazaki orders the deployment of the second wave over military bases on Oahu.

0854 - Attack run begins: 54 high-level bombers hit Naval air stations, 78 dive bombers hit ships in Pearl, 36 fighters circle over harbor to maintain air control.

0900 - The crew of the Dutch liner JAGERSFONTEIN opens up with her guns, the first Allies to join the fight. Radios throughout the island crack out urgent messages: "Get off roads and stay off, Don't block traffic...Stay at home...This is the real McCoy!"

0930 - Tremendous explosions rock the destroyer SHAW sending debris everywhere. A bomb falls near Hawaii Governor Poindexter's home... The Americans are taken completely by surprise. The first attack wave targets airfields and battleships. The second wave targets other ships and shipyard facilities. The air raid lasts until 9:45 a.m. Eight battleships are damaged, and five are sunk. Three light cruisers, three destroyers and three smaller vessels are lost along with 188 aircraft. The Japanese lose 27 planes and five midget submarines which attempted to penetrate the inner harbor and launch torpedoes. Escaping damage from the attack are the prime targets, the three U.S. Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers, LEXINGTON, ENTERPRISE and SARATOGA which were not in port. Also escaping damage are the base fuel tanks.

1000 - The first wave arrives back on carriers, 190 miles north of Oahu.

1005 - Governor Poindexter calls local papers announcing a state of emergency for the entire Territory of Hawaii.

1030 - The Mayor's Major Disaster Council meets at city hall. Reports from local hospitals pour in listing civilian casualties.

1100 - Commander Fuchida circles over Pearl Harbor, assesses damage then returns to carrier task force. News of the "sneak attack" is broadcast to the American public via radio bulletins, with many popular Sunday afternoon entertainment programs being interrupted. All schools on Oahu are ordered to close.

1115 - A State of Emergency is announced over the radio by the Governor 1142 - Local stations go off the air as per orders by the Army. General Short confers with the Governor regarding martial law.

1146 - The first report of many false sightings of enemy troops landing on Oahu is received. In Washington, the last part of the Japanese message, stating that diplomatic relations with the U.S. are to be severed, is decoded at approximately 9 a.m. About an hour later another Japanese message is intercepted. It instructs the Japanese embassy to deliver the main message to the Americans at 1 p.m. The Americans realize this time corresponds with early morning in Pearl Harbor, which is several hours behind. The U.S. War Department then sends out an alert but uses commercial telegraph because radio contact with Hawaii is broken. Delay results in the alert arriving at headquarters in Oahu around noon time (Hawaii time) four hours after the attack has already begun.

1210 - U.S. planes fly north in a search for the enemy with negative results.

1230 - Honolulu police raid the Japanese embassy and find them burning documents. A blackout to begin at night is ordered by the Army.

1240 - Governor confers with President Roosevelt regarding martial law; both agree it necessary that the military take over the civilian government.

1300 - Commander Fuchida lands on board the carrier AKAGI. Discussion follows with Admiral Nagumo and staff concerning the feasibility of launching a third wave.

1330 - Signal flags on the carrier AKAGI orders the Japanese task force to withdraw. The territorial director of civil defense orders a blackout every night until further notice.

1458 - Tadao Fuchikami delivers a message from Washington regarding the ultimatum from Japan to be given at 1300 Washington time, which is decoded and given to General Short. "Just what significance the hour set may have we do not know, but be on the alert accordingly."

1625 - Governor Poindexter signs a Proclamation declaring martial law to be put into effect.
The news of the attack on Pearl Harbor with it's catastrophic losses of men and materiel sends a shockwave across the nation and results in a tremendous influx of young volunteers into the U.S. armed forces. The attack also unites the nation behind the president and effectively ends isolationist sentiments in the country.

December 8 - The United States and Britain declare war on Japan with President Roosevelt calling December 7, "a date which will live in infamy..."

December 11 - Germany and Italy declare war on the United States.

December 16 - Both senior commanders at Pearl Harbor; Navy Admiral, Husband E. Kimmel and Army Lt. General, Walter C. Short, are relieved of their commands and reverted to their permanent, two-star ranks. Subsequent investigations will charge the men with dereliction of duty for failing to adopt adequate defense measures prior to the attack.

December 17 - Chester W. Nimitz succeeds Kimmel in command of the Pacific Fleet and General Delos Emmons replaces Short as the new military governor of Hawaii.

See also: Peace Comes Through Strength


GrEaT sAtAn'S gIrLfRiEnD said...

Man. Felt like I was there. Awesome minute by minute account.

Great work OtTobAbE!

MK said...

Yeah, thanks AI.

"To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace."

Peace through superior firepower. Something too many of us choose to be ignorant of.

Jungle Mom said...

Thanks for remembering.My dad lost a brother there. I never knew him, of course, but it did impact our lives.

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

"I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve." - Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto

WomanHonorThyself said...

Thank you Otto..beautiful post and timely reminder my friend!

Tapline said...

Otto: What a Post! I was reliving it throughout.....However we learned nothing, therefore, we are bound to repete it.....stay well.....

Frasypoo said...

I never knew much about Pearl Harbo so this was very informative

PS:Thankyou for the birthday wishes