PEARL HARBOR, Honolulu, Hawaii (KWWL) – “December 7, 1941 a date which will live in infamy the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan,” said President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It's a day that still stands out in the minds of many 78 years later.
At 7:55 a.m., Japanese forces released their attack on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese planes have been remembered as appearing “like a thunderclap from a clear sky.”
The attack that day came in two waves and killed 2,386 service members and civilians. A majority of those killed were of the Navy and Marine Corps. Many of those casualties happened when the U.S.S. Arizona was sank in the harbor where it remains today as a grave and memorial to those lost inside.
While the damage to the Pacific naval fleet was extensive, the attack damaged none of the American aircraft carriers as they were absent from Pearl Harbor that day. The carriers and the remaining support cruisers, destroyers and fleet oilers proved crucial as the U.S. was thrust into WWII.
“The Japanese focus on ships and planes spared our fuel tank farms, naval yard repair facilities, and the submarine base, all of which proved vital for the tactical operations that originated at Pearl Harbor in the ensuing months and played a key role in the Allied victory. American technological skill raised and repaired all but three of the ships sunk or damaged at Pearl Harbor,” read an article from the U.S. Navy.
Saturday, a moment of silence was held at Pearl Harbor at 7:55 a.m.
"The resolve shown by our armed forces in 1941 and 1942 gave the American people a sliver of hope that our fate was not sealed. That in the case of Pearl Harbor, past was not prologue and that the glimmers of victory had begun to emerge,” said David Bernhardt, U.S. Secretary of the Interior.
Countless acts of courage have gone undocumented through the years due the immense death toll of the day. Fifteen Navy personnel were awarded the Medal of Honor for acts of courage. Ten of those were awarded posthumously.