December 7th is a day many people don’t really know about until they’re reminded of it via the news or social media, then comes the “oohhh that’s right, that’s the day Pearl Harbor was bombed.” Back then, december 7th, 1941 is a day unlike 9-11 was for many of us recently. To say it brought the U.S. to its knees and crippled the country would not be an understatement. The following day, the US formally declared war on Japan.
During my Force Recon training in the Marine Corps, I was fortunate enough to train at Ford Island in Hawaii. This was literally ground zero during the attack in 1941, our rooms we stayed in were still littered with bullet holes and the run way was still scarred with bomb craters filled in, when we P.T’d in the morning we’d run every morning by the USS Arizona and the other ships along battle ship row. We’d always finish up at a small park at the tip of Ford Island that overlooked the USS Arizona.
What many don’t know is how many people died on the Arizona? 1,177 sailors and Marines were killed, and there are still 1,102 souls trapped in there to this day. The official U.S.S. Arizona memorial was built in 1962, and the site is owned and operated by the National Park Service. The sunken ship was declared a National Historic Landmark on May 5, 1989.
Did you know that the entire attack by the Japanese lasted less than two hours, killed more than 2,400 people and wounded 1,000 more, it also damaged or destroyed 20 American ships and more than 300 planes were lost. 334 men survived.
The bomb that detonated the number two turret set off 1,800,000 pounds of ammunition with the force of one kiloton (that’s the force of a small nuclear weapon). The fire burned so bright for two days that at night the entire harbor was lit up as though it was daytime.
- Twenty three sets of brothers died aboard the USS Arizona
- USS Arizona’s entire band was lost
- Fuel and oil continue to leak from the wreckage to this day
I had the honor and privilege of diving right off the USS Arizona along with a fellow Marine. That’s me suiting up with my Dive buddy in coveralls to protect us from all the oil and fuel leaking from the ship. It was the most humbling experience and one I’ll never forget.