More than 100 World War II veterans, including some Pearl Harbor survivors, arrived in Honolulu this week to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the surprise attack by the Japanese. When the attack began at 7:55 a.m. on Sunday morning Dec. 7, 1941, the US Navy and Army in the Hawaiian islands were on a relaxed weekend schedule. The Japanese aircraft struck Pearl Harbor and Hickam and Wheeler Fields in two waves. Eight battleships and 10 other ships were sunk, capsized, or severely damaged. Seventy-six US aircraft were destroyed. The casualty total was 2,403 killed, missing, or died of wounds and 1,178 wounded. “The whole harbor was on fire,” recalls Raymond Chavez, a Pearl Harbor survivor, in a Navy release. “You could see the black smoke from one end to the other because the ships were on fire. I started crying—I’m not ashamed to admit it—because of all the sailors that were trying to save themselves, all the dead bodies, oil, and the ships [that] were on fire.” Fourteen US pilots, acting on their own, got their P-40 and P-36 fighters into the air that day and shot down 10 of the Japanese attackers. Losses would have been worse except that the US carriers were at sea.
Read our full report on the attack and the 10 official inquiries that followed.