With confidence in our armed forces – with the unbounding determination of our People – we will gain the inevitable triumph – so help us God.  I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941 a state of War has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.”  –FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT’S Speech to the U.S. Congress on December 8th, 1941

On Sunday, December 7th, 1941 the Japanese launched a surprise attack against the U.S. Forces stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  By planning his attack on a Sunday, the Japanese commander Admiral Nagumo, hoped to catch the entire fleet in port.  As luck God would have it, the Aircraft Carriers and one of the Battleships were not in port. (The USS Enterprise was returning from Wake Island , where it had just delivered some aircraft. The USS Lexington was ferrying aircraft to Midway, and the USS Saratoga and USS Colorado were undergoing repairs in the United States).

In spite of the latest intelligence reports about the missing aircraft carriers (his most important targets), Admiral Nagumo decided to continue the attack with his force of six carriers and 423 aircraft.  At a range of 230 miles north of Oahu, he launched the first wave of a two-wave attack.

Beginning at 0600 hours his first wave consisted of 183 fighters and torpedo bombers which struck at the fleet in Pearl Harbor and the airfields in Hickam,
Kaneohe and Ewa.

The second strike, launched at 0715 hours, consisted of 167 aircraft, which again struck at the same targets.  At 0753 hours the first wave consisting of 40 Nakajima B5N2 Kate torpedo bombers, 51 Aichi D3A1 “Val” dive bombers, 50 high Altitude bombers and 43 Zeros struck airfields and Pearl Harbor.

Within the next hour, the second wave arrived and continued the attack.

When it was over, the U.S. losses were:


USA : 218 KIA, 364 WIA.

USN: 2,008 KIA, 710 WIA.

USMC: 109 KIA, 69 WIA.

Civilians: 68 KIA, 35 WIA.

TOTAL: 2,403 KIA, 1,178 WIA.


USS Arizona (BB-39) – total loss when a bomb hit her magazine.

USS Oklahoma (BB-37) – Total loss when she capsized and sunk in the harbor.

USS California (BB-44) – Sunk at her berth. Later raised and repaired.

USS West Virginia (BB-48) – Sunk at her berth. Later raised and repaired.

USS Nevada – (BB-36) Beached to prevent sinking. Later repaired.

USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) – Light damage.

USS Maryland (BB-46) – Light damage.

USS Tennessee (BB-43) Light damage.

USS Utah (AG-16) – (former battleship used as a target) – Sunk.


USS New Orleans (CA-32) – Light Damage..

USS San Francisco (CA-38) – Light Damage.

USS Detroit (CL-8) – Light Damage.

USS Raleigh (CL-7) – Heavily damaged but repaired.

USS Helena (CL-50) – Light Damage.

USS Honolulu (CL-48) – Light Damage.


USS Downes (DD-375) – Destroyed. Parts salvaged.

USS Cassin – (DD-372) Destroyed. Parts salvaged.

USS Shaw (DD-373) – Very heavy damage.

USS Helm (DD-388) – Light Damage.


USS Ogala (CM-4) – Sunk but later raised and repaired.

Seaplane Tender

USS Curtiss (AV-4) – Severely damaged but later repaired.

Repair Ship

USS Vestal (AR-4) – Severely damaged but later repaired.

Harbor Tug

USS Sotoyomo (YT-9) – Sunk but later raised and repaired.


188 Aircraft destroyed (92 USN and 92 U.S Army Air Corps.)

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