Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pearl Harbor Tour -- Post 1

When friends, Barb and Tom, suggested that we visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial -- I wasn't sure if I wanted to do it at first.  I am so glad that I did.  Of course all of know the basics of what happened on December 7, 1941.  Most of us also realize that the events of that day launched the United States into World War II.  However, I never really learned about the details of the Japanese attack until today. 

We spent almost five hours touring the displays, taking the audio tour, watching the interpretive movie, and going on the Navy boat over to the USS Arizona Memorial.  The Navy, National Park Service, and everyone who has contributed to this memorial must be commended.  They did an incredible job not only describing the events of the infamous day, but also explaining why it happened and how it felt for all those involved.  I shed tears at least five times.  I'll post the photos over two days.

As we drove into the parking lot at the Pearl Harbor Memorial, a rainbow greeted us.

Pearl Harbor is located on the south shore of Oahu.  The sign near the entrance of the memorial is shown below.
One of the symbols at the memorial is the tree of life... 

In the spring of 1940, the U.S. government moved the Pacific fleet from San Diego to Hawaii.
As you can see in the chart below, even with the build up of the Pacific fleet in Hawaii, the Japanese still had more resources.
The map below shows where the ships were in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Over 900 of the deaths that happened at Pearl Harbor occurred when the USS Arizona sank.  When the torpedo hit the ship, the ammunition magazine blew up.  The ship sank in just nine minutes. A model of the Arizona is below.
The Japanese developed a torpedo bomb that would not only penetrate the hull of the U.S. battleships, but torpedoes that could also be effectively launched in the shallow waters of Pearl Harbor.
The attack occurred prior to Hawaii being a state.  It was still a U.S. territory.  One of the facts that most surprised me is the demographics of Hawaiian residents in 1940.  Native Hawaiians only comprised 15 percent of the residents.  Japanese made up 37 percent of the population.
The Japanese attacked the U.S. fleet in Pearl Harbor, as well as the airfields around the island, in two waves.  Although the U.S. felt its resources were well fortified -- military leaders did not expect an air attack.  Radar was a new technology at the time, but radar operators did see the blip on the radar.  However, they were expecting some planes from the mainland and figured that the blip was the incoming U.S. planes.  They also did not expect Japan to launch such a large attack from aircraft carriers.  The attack was a complete surprise.
Continued tomorrow.... 

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