Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii- National Historic Landmark

Pearl Harbor is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan on December 7, 1941, brought the United States into World War II.

Aircraft and midget submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy began an attack on the U.S. The Americans had deciphered Japan's code earlier and knew about a planned attack before it actually occurred. However, due to difficulty in deciphering intercepted messages, the Americans failed to discover Japan's target location before the attack occurred. Under the command of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the attack was devastating in loss of life and damage to the U.S. fleet. At 6:05 AM on December 7, the six Japanese carriers launched a first wave of 183 aircraft composed mainly of dive bombers, horizontal bombers and fighters. The Japanese hit American ships and military installations at 7:51 AM. The first wave attacked military airfields of Ford Island. At 8:30 AM, a second wave of 170 Japanese aircraft, mostly torpedo bombers, attacked the fleet anchored in Pearl Harbor. The battleship Arizona was hit with an armor piercing bomb which penetrated the forward ammunition compartment, blowing the ship apart and sinking it within seconds. Overall, nine ships of the U.S. fleet were sunk and 21 ships were severely damaged. Three of the 21 would be irreparable. The overall death toll reached 2,350, including 68 civilians, and 1,178 injured. Of the military personnel lost at Pearl Harbor, 1,177 were from the Arizona.

The Arizona remains in the water. There is still a film of oil in the water around the ship. Our guide who was born after 1941 tells how her father was a civilian worker at Pearl Harbor and was on his way home from work when he heard about the attack on the radio and went back. There were no lines of communication then. The only way her mother knew if he was dead or alive was to read the newspaper every morning and see if his name was on the list of dead. Many people were connected to the military in the 40's as they are even today in Hawaii. Visiting this tragic watery grave was a very moving experience.

Photographs taken by Linda Dubin Garfield: from the top: view of Pearl Harbor from the water, oil on water, view of USS Arizona in water, tanks from ship, close up of tank, rusting part of ship from original ship at Pearl Harbor


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