By Trent Rosser
December 7, 1941
03:40: On patrol less than 2 miles off the entrance to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the officer of the deck of the minesweeper Condor sees something ahead about 50 yards off the port bow. He asks a sailor what he thinks it is. ” A periscope, sir. And there aren’t supposed to be any subs in the area.” he replies. The Condor sends a message to the destroyer Ward to inform them of the sighting.
06:10: With the sun breaking over the horizon, Japanese aircraft carriers turn into the wind and launch the first wave of attack. 183 fighters, bombers, and torpedo planes take off towards Hawaii. The pilots use a Honolulu radio station as navigation as they roar toward inland.
06:45: The U.S. destroyer Ward finds the submarine that was reported by the Condor and open fire. The second shot strikes the submarine at the waterline and it heels over, and starts to sink.
07:00: One of 6 radar stations on Oahu are being manned by 2 privates. Both privates confirms what the new radar is showing; 50 or more aircraft bearing for Oahu. They call the Fort Shafter information center.
07:20: By now, the planes are about 70 miles away. An Army Lieutenant who was in training at the radio network receives the report of the “Biggest sightings the radar operator had ever seen.” The Lieutenant believes that the radar had picked up a flight of U.S. B-17 bombers coming from California. Due to security reasons, he was unable to tell the radar operators. All he says is “Well, don’t worry about it.”
07:40: Japanese pilots see the coast of Oahu Kakuku Point. Just 9 minutes later, Mitsuo Fuhida, the leader of the Japanese air attack, is looking down on Pearl Harbor. He orders his operator to tap out: Attack. Surprise achieved. Attack.
07:55: Commander Logan Ramsey is looking out a window from the command center on Ford Island when he sees a low-flying plane. He immediately thinks it is a reckless U.S. pilot when he also sees something fall out of the plane. He realizes it’s a bomb and rushes to a radio room and orders the telegraph operators to send out an uncoded message to every ship on base: AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. The Japanese, wanting to control of the air, starts the attack on the Army Air Forces Wheeler Field, north of Pearl Harbor, and Hickam Field near Fords Island’s Battleship Row. Most of the U.S. planes have been parked wingtip to wingtip in rows to make it easier to guard them against sabotage. Most are destroyed.
08:10: A high altitude bomber, drops an armor-piercing bomb which pierces the forward deck of the USS Arizona battleship. With over 1 millions of gunpowder being set off, it created a huge fireball and killing 1,177 men. A sailor on the battleship Nevada seen the explosion and said ” the Arizona jumped at least 15 to 20 feet upward in the water and sort of broke in two.” Less than 10 minutes later, the USS Arizona is on the bottom of Pearl Harbor.
08:39: The destroyer USS Monaghan is trying to get out of the harbor and into open sea, a nearby ship signals that it has spotted a submarine. The Monaghan heads for the submarine at top speed and rams it. They then drop depth charges. The charges are so close that the explosion lifts the Monaghan out of the water, but does no damage to the ship. The midget submarine sinks.
08:50: By this time, the second wave of attack is underway. The USS Nevada is also trying to get up to steam. With anti aircraft guns blazing into the sky, they make for the opening of the harbor. The Japanese planes sees this ship trying and start to bomb the USS Nevada, hoping to sink it in the narrow channel so it would bottle up the rest of the fleet. Rather than risk this, the Nevada deliberately grounds itself off of Hospital Point.
08:54: The second wave which consisted of 35 fighters, 78 dive bombers, and 54 high altitude bombers are attacking with the viciousness of a lion on an injured lamb. With heavy anti-aircraft fire, the bomber attack the Navy yard dry dock, and hit the battleship USS Pennsylvania. The oil tanks between the destroyers Cassin and Downes are hit. Ammunition on board explodes and the Cassin is rolled off it’s blocks and into the Dowes. Bombs hit the Raleigh which had already been torpedoed during the first wave.
09:30: The bow on the destroyer Shaw is blown off by a bomb. Pieces of the ship rain down half a mile away.
10:00: Japanese fighters meet back up with the bombers off Oahu and follow them back to the carriers. 29 Japanese planes were lost. Many of the pilots wanted to launch a 3rd strike, but superiors said that the attack was successful and they did not know the whereabouts of the U.S. Aircraft Carriers. That was their main objective was to take out the carriers, but they were not in the Harbor, they were on a mission and out of harms way.
10:30: With the attack over, the wounded come in. Some riddled with bullets, and some horribly burned. Dining halls, barracks, and schools became makeshift hospitals. For many, all the nurses could do was give them morphine. They put a M in lipstick on their foreheads to indicate the painkilling drug.
13:00: The Japanese strike force turns for home. 2008 Navy personnel, 109 Marines ad 218 Army were killed on this attack. 68 civilians were also killed. On the USS Arizona alone, 1,177 died on that fateful day. The total Japanese personnel losses were 55 men. The number of the wounded came to 1,143 with 710 Navy, 69 Marines, and 364 Army as well as 103 civilians.
Every one of these men and women, military or not, died for our freedom. This was an act of war. It has been 77 years, let us never forget what they did that Sunday morning to protect our freedom.
Update: Ray Chavez, the last living surviving veteran of Pearl Harbor passed away at the age of 106, just weeks before the 77th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
*special thanks to National Geographic, Military Times