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Little-known facts about the attack on Pearl Harbor

Very few Americans are old enough to remember the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, that occurred on December 7, 1941, and pulled America into World War II. Over 2,400 Americans died in this surprise attack on our Pacific Fleet. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war the very next day, saying that December 7, 1941, would be a “day which will live in infamy.”

To honor and remember the Americans who sacrificed for us all, we thought we would share a few little-known facts about this attack. Feel free to share this blog with students and others interested in learning more about our nation’s history. We have provided links below if you would like to learn even more!


One man, Major Morio Tomura, a Japanese communications officer, played a key role

Not only did Tomura delay a conciliatory telegram from President Roosevelt on December 6 by 10 hours that may have prevented or delayed the attack, but he also delayed a cable from the Japanese Emperor that communicated Japan was ending negotiations. This message would have signaled the potential start of conflict to America and likely would have put our nation on higher alert. Instead of sending the cable a half hour before the attack as he was directed, he waited until two hours after the attack to deliver the communication.


A number of badly-damaged ships were able to return to service

A total of 2,403 Americans died as a result of this surprise attack, which damaged 16 American ships and about 350 airplanes. The attack nearly destroyed America’s Pacific fleet, although a number of ships were repaired and able to return to action.


23 sets of brothers died on the USS Arizona

Believe it or not, 23 sets of brothers died on the USS Arizona, with only one full set of brothers, Kenneth and Russell Warriner, surviving. The ship’s only father/son pair was also killed that day. Over 1,000 men were trapped inside the USS Arizona when it sank.


The USS Arizona lost its entire band

Japanese bombers hit the USS Arizona several times, eventually sinking the ship. All 21 members of the ship’s band were killed and among the 1,177 crewmen on the USS Arizona who perished. This was the first and only time in our nation’s history an entire military band was killed in action.


The USS West Virginia was sunk at Pearl Harbor but returned to action

Taking a number of torpedo and bomb hits on December 7, the USS West Virginia, affectionately called the “Wee Vee,” was sunk at Pearl Harbor, but was pumped out, raised to the surface, repaired and returned to action in World War II. This ship finished out the war and was awarded five battle stars.


To learn more about December 7, 1941, and the attack on Pearl Harbor, go to:

5 Things You Didn’t Know about Pearl Harbor

5 Facts about Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona

More Facts about the Attack on Pearl Harbor

USS West Virginia History

USS West Virginia Pictures

Roosevelt’s Declaration of War Video

Original Pearl Harbor News Footage






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