Dr. Bill Atwood

Never forget

27,759 days. It was Sunday morning and the men of the United States Navy stationed in Hawaii had enjoyed another beautiful Saturday evening with their buddies, shipmates and girls. You’re young, in great shape, been paid, in Hawaii and looking for a great evening. To be sure early Sunday morning many of the guys were experiencing hangovers. Some were in their bunks sleeping in while others were getting ready for duty.

Some were already on deck getting ready to report for duty and others were preparing to hoist the Colors and begin the official day. It was Sunday, December 7, 1941 and the guys expected nothing to make this particular day any different than all the rest. Ahh, it was Hawaii.

The Japanese Zeros came in over the Pali and used the high cliffs to their tactical advantage. They came in low over the water at a great rate of speed and dropped their bombs and torpedoes and destroyed many of the ships tied up at the docks in Pearl Harbor. The Arizona is the most famous of the Battleships hit that day as the explosion was so great it shook the entire area surrounding Pearl Harbor.

Many men died on that first day of World War II in the Pacific Theater. Many men rose to the occasion on that early Sunday morning. Hangovers and exhaustion notwithstanding the crews of all the ships hit the decks and started fighting back against a well trained and disciplined squadron of Japanese warriors.

The Japanese had a great plan in place to destroy the American fleet while it sat without any defense in a harbor. Luck, and the sure grit of the American fighting forces there kept the Japanese plan from fully exceeding. Rescue operations started while the battle was still raging. Men altering set plans to use their weapons and planes as best they could to turn back the enemy that had attacked in such a surprise sneak attack.

The Japanese Ambassadors were meeting in Washington at the time of the attack due to a mix-up with scheduling and the slowness of their typing skills as they had a prepared document to present to the American government prior to the scheduled attack.

Once the carnage had stopped and word of the damage inflicted during the attacks at Pearl and elsewhere in the Pacific was known, those in Washington began the planning to defeat the enemy.

President Roosevelt spoke to the Joint Session of the Congress on the 8th and asked for a Declaration of War as a result of the “dastardly attack” on our naval forces on the 7th which, at the last moment he changed his remarks to be known as the “Day of Infamy”.

America quickly came out of the Depression and swung into war time production, recruiting, and mobilization. Young men who had grown up under the economic trials of the Great Depression enlisted to save this nation. Hitler was trying to take over Europe and the World from Germany and the Emperor of Japan wanted his power base to be the Pacific. Those despotic plans would be smashed within five years.

Isoroku Yamamoto, of the Japanese forces, once realizing that the American Fleet had not been destroyed commented that he feared that Japan had, “Awakened a sleeping Giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.” He was correct. The American Forces, joining with the other Allied militaries launched a campaign that led to the ultimate victory FDR had predicted on Dec. 8. Never forget the Heroes of The Day of Infamy.

27,759 days of remembrance ... and counting.