In honor of the Pearl Harbor anniversary, we look at some interesting facts related to the “date which will live in infamy”. Hosted by Benari Poulten, a Master Sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
December 7th, 1941 – “a date which will live in infamy”.
This is Five Things You Don’t Know About Pearl Harbor.
Fact One: The December 7th, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor spurred direct US involvement in World War II. But while you may think that the decision to enter the war was unanimously approved, it actually wasn’t.
In fact, when Congress voted to declare war on Japan the day after the attack, Jeannette Rankin of Montana was the sole dissenting voice.
A lifelong pacifist who had also voted against America’s involvement in World War I, Rankin’s decision was met with hisses in the gallery and pleas from her colleagues to change her vote, or, at the very least, abstain from casting it.
When she refused to do so, Rankin outraged so many people that she effectively ended her political career… And thanks to her single dissenting voice, the Declaration of War against Japan passed with a final tally of 388 to 1.
Fact Two: While we’re all familiar with the air attack that took place at Pearl Harbor, a lesser known part of the story is the fact that the Japanese also deployed several midget submarines for assaults against the island.
One of these subs – commanded by Kazuo Sakamaki – became disabled and stuck on a beach in Oahu. Although Sakamaki attempted to blow his submarine up, the explosives failed to go off – and he was ultimately captured as America’s first prisoner of war in World War II.
After the attack ended, Sakamaki’s submarine was recovered intact, and was taken on tour across the United States, where it was used to help raise money through the purchase of war bonds.
Fact Three: While US military forces worked to rebuild Pearl Harbor in the weeks following December 7th, the Japanese initiated a plan to attack the island for a second time.
Codenamed “Operation K” this second assault took place on March 4, 1942, when two Japanese “flying boat” aircraft flew across the Pacific, refueled via submarine in the northwest Hawaiian islands, and arrived over Oahu in the middle of the night.
Although their intention was to bomb the base at Pearl Harbor, blackout conditions and heavy cloud cover caused the pilots to become disoriented – and forced them to mistakenly drop their payload far off target.
The resulting blast damaged a few homes and buildings, but, thankfully, resulted in zero casualties.
Fact Four: Although the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor resulted in massive devastation and an immense loss of American lives, there were a few US ships that managed to escape unscathed.
Among them, was the USS Phoenix CL-46. A Brooklyn-class light cruiser, the Phoenix was anchored southeast of Ford Island on the morning of the assault. Since it was not considered a primary target, it was largely passed over by the Japanese.
Throughout the remainder of World War II, the Phoenix escorted convoys, and helped support troop landings throughout the Pacific Theater.
In 1951, six years after the war ended, the Phoenix was sold to the Argentine Navy, where it was ultimately renamed the ARA General Belgrano.
There, the ship continued to serve for another 31 years – until, in 1982, it was sunk by a British submarine during the Falklands War.
Fact Five: Attracting more than 1 million visitors each year, the USS Arizona Memorial is perhaps the best known World War II monument in the world.
Officially dedicated on May 30th, 1962, the $500,000 structure was funded through donations from both the public and private sector. These donations were solicited through the help of several organizations and individuals – including none other than the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley.
Elvis, who had recently finished a two-year stint in the Army, performed a benefit concert at Pearl Harbor in March of 1961. Singing favorites like “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Don’t Be Cruel”, the concert raised nearly $65,000 – and was the last time Elvis performed on stage until his return to Las Vegas almost 8 years later.
While the assault on Hawaii became famous throughout the world, the Japanese military actually attacked several other locations on December 7th.
Do you know where else the Japanese attacked? If so, post your answer below or reach out to us through Twitter using hash tag Five Things You Don’t Know.