President Franklin Roosevelt called December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy." On that day, Japanese planes attacked the United States Naval Base on Ford Island at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This unexpected attack destroyed nearly 20 American naval vessels and more than 300 airplanes. Over 2,000 American soldiers and sailors died, and another 1,000 were wounded. After this tragic bombing, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked congress to declare war on Japan. Congress approved and three days later, Japanese allies Germany and Italy also declared war on the United States. After two years of trying to avoid the war, the U.S. finally joined World War II.
Why did Japan bomb Pearl Harbor?
Part of the reason why Japan bombed the U.S. is because they intended the attacks as a preventive action to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from interfering with military actions they were planning. But the main reason was because America stopped trading scrap metal and airplane fuel with Japan because America was trying to stay neutral. Japan was furious and decided to bomb Pearl Harbor.
Who was involved?
Mitsuo Fuchida was the leader of this one day attack. Mitsuo was a Japanese captain in the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service and a bomber aviator in the Japanese navy before and during World War II. He is perhaps best known for leading the first air wave attacks on Pearl Harbor. During this air attack, the Japanese used torpedoes and land bombs that destroyed Pacific Fleet ships and aircraft. His goal was simple, he wanted to destroy the Pacific Fleet.
The United States tried their best to stay out of the war. But after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. declared war on Japan, finally becoming part of WWII. Nearly 20 American naval vessels and more than 300 airplanes were destroyed and over 2,000 American soldiers and sailors died, with another 1,000 who were wounded. It took over a month to clean up the wreckage, but the horrific memory of this tragic attack will last forever.
Important Facts on the Attack at Pearl Harbor
- The attack lasted from 7:55 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.
- The Japanese launched their airplanes in two waves.
- Plans for the surprise attack on America started in January of 1941, the Japanese called it "Operation Z."
- The Japanese specifically planned the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Sunday because they thought Americans would be relaxed and less alert.