Americans have a special place for Pearl Harbor given the nature of the horrendous events that took place on December 7th, 1941. These events claimed over 2,000 Americans’ lives and pushed the United States of America into World War II.
We have heard, read, and seen many heroic and once in a lifetime stories that happened on December 7th, 1941. However, there are still some hidden and eye-opening facts about Pearl Harbor that you might not know. Today, we’ll uncover some of the facts about the “day that will live in infamy” that you might not have known.
Here are some facts that still shock us right to this day:
The First Shot Was Fired by Americans
Did you know that Americans were the first to fire a shot? On the morning of December 7th, 1941, at about 6:37 AM, Americans spotted the Japanese sub’s periscope above the water with their minesweeper Condor. And soon after that, Ward’s whole crew was alerted that an intruder has been spotted. After that, America’s Wickes-class destroyer USS Ward fired and attacked the Japanese’s Ko-hyoteki-class midget submarine. Note that the Japanese submarine was shot and sank at the entrance of Pearl Harbor (check out our battle map here!). Attacking the Japanese submarine made Americans the first to fire on that day.
Out of Eighteen Targeted American Battleships, Only Two Returned to Service
During the Pearl Harbor attacks, eighteen American battleships were targeted by the Japanese. All were destroyed and resurrected. But two returned to the U.S. Navy’s fleet. Although these two battleships were utterly out of shape due to massive damage, the U.S. Navy raised them and repaired them. These ships are the USS West Virginia and USS California.
To this day, you can see the bullet holes and damage from the attacks by visiting active military installations on Oahu, Schofield Barracks, Hickam Army Field, and others nearby. The damage serves as a solemn reminder of the day’s events and all of the lives lost during wartime.
Battle Lasted About Two Hours
The Pearl Harbor assault began at somewhere around 7:55 AM and lasted until 9:55 AM. Japanese came from all directions, and the strike happened in two waves, about 45 minutes apart.
The first wave began at 8:00 AM, when Japanese planes started an all-out attack on the Hawaiian base. Americans weren’t aware of the Japanese’s plans, and they were caught by surprise with bombs, torpedoes, and aircraft fire. Our battle map print shows how the Japanese fleet attacked the Americans and how many ships were damaged and caught off-guard.
The second wave arrived at somewhere around 9:00 AM, but it didn’t include any torpedo planes. And it caused less damage to the Americans. By the end of the battle, 2,403 Americans lost their lives, and 1,178 were wounded.
A Huge Amount of Japanese Tourists Came To Pay Their Respects After Pearl Harbor Event
Today, Japan is one of the strongest allies of America. And as a matter of fact, it’s one of the largest sources of international tourists to the state of Hawaii. Just like many patriotic Americans, the Japanese also visit Pearl Harbor to pay their respects. Although the Japanese were the ones behind the attacks on Pearl Harbor, many come to America to pay their respect to the people who lost their lives.
Each year, many Japanese tourists come to America to educate themselves about the events of World War II and the famous Pearl Harbor. Back in 2016, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Pearl Harbor Memorial in Honolulu.
A Japanese Pilot and U.S. Marine, Both Survivors of Pearl Harbor, Became Friends Years Later
Zenji Abe who was one of the Japanese survivors of Pearl Harbor. After learning that the Japanese haven’t given any notice or warning before attacking, Abe became filled with shame and remorse. After the event, Abe went around and found those who were with him and felt the same to sign a letter of apology. And on every Pearl Harbor anniversary, they showed up and started seeing Americans who’ll take their letter of apology. One day, Abe finally met Richard Fisk, who was one of the survivors of Pearl Harbor, and they became friends.
Tale of The Mysterious Ad for a Board Game
Back on Nov 21, 1941, a series of mysterious ads started to roll out. There was one big ad and a dozen small ads. The ad was talking about something about “Chicago’s favorite game,” called “The Deadly Double.” Following this, the headline of the ad was “Achtung, Warning, Alert!”. You might be wondering what was odd about that. The headline shows the people in an air raid shelter playing dice, and the dice were numbered 12 and 7. Surprisingly, there’s no dice with number 7 or 12 on it, and the day that the Pearl Harbor event happened, it was the 12th month, and the date was 7th. What’s more disturbing is that the company that made the game never existed, and the person buying the ad space got a copy of it in person and received cash from the party.
USS Arizona Battleships Still Leaks Fuel
On the 6th of December 1941, the USS Arizona battleship got fully fueled by nearly 1.5 million gallons of oil. It’s said that much of that fuel contributed to explosions and fires that erupted at Pearl Harbor on the 7th of December. But what’s shocking is that the USS Arizona battleship still leaks fuel to this day. Visitors often label this phenomenon as “tears of the Arizona” or “black tears.” And to this day, the USS Arizona spills about 9 quarts of oil into the harbor each and every day.
Every year, the anniversary of Pearl Harbor reminds us of the lives of precious Americans that were sacrificed. Moreover, it gives Americans a boost of motivation and a reminder about their history and how far things have come. Lastly, our battle map shows us what and how everything went down on that tragic day.