On December 7, 1941 Japanese Aircraft
Carriers located in the Pacific Ocean, 200 miles from Oahu, Hawaii launched their planes
into the predawn light. Under the orders of Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto their
mission is to cripple the United States Pacific Fleet based in Pearl Harbor.
Shortly before eight local time, unsuspecting civilian and military personnel on the Island of Oahu, Hawaii prepared their Sunday morning meals. Just off shore the Japanese force of 353 warplanes sighted their target. Commander Mitsuo Fuchida gave the order to attack saying, "Tora, tora, tora."
The Japanese attack devastated the fleet. Over 2300 civilian and military personnel were killed. 19 ships, including five battleships sank. Almost all of the 100 ships in port were damaged. Inland airfields suffered hits with Hickam Airfield sustaining the heaviest damage. Lack of preparation and communication failures were blamed for effectiveness of the attack.
The surprise attack caused shock and terror as word spread across the nation. Those emotions quickly turned to anger and action. News of Japanese attacks on Midway, Wake Island and Guam began to get through further inflaming public outrage. On Dec. 8, 1941 the United States entered World War II when Congress declared war on Japan.