The Day of Deceit or the Day of Infamy, or both? The surprise bombing of Pearl Harbor was the entire reason for the United States’ entrance into World War II. Many elements play into this event. For instance, the Japanese chose this site for several reasons. In addition, there are various theories that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was made aware of this attack, yet allowed it to occur. Known as “The Day of Infamy “, the bombing is taught in our history classes for an infinity of years to come.
How did we react at the time? What did Washington do to prevent this? Why Pearl Harbor anyway? The bombing of Pearl Harbor was a desperate FDR’s backdoor into the Second World War.
December 7, 1941 dawned bright, clear and beautiful over Pearl Harbor. In fact, according to Deborah Bacharach’s book, “Pearl Harbor”, Fleet Chaplain William A. Maguire noted approvingly from abroad the Arizona that this day “was a day for the tourists” (Bachrach 8). However, two hundred and thirty miles to the northwest of Pearl Harbor activity of a different nature was taking place. “Japanese pilots had already donned their warrior ceremonial dress, with their fresh loincloths, good luck belly bands and freshly pressed red shirts to show a warrior’s disdain for blood.
They had eaten their ceremonial meals. They were ready for attack” (Prange 21).
According to William Shapiro’s book, at about the same time, off the coast of the Hawaiian Islands, abroad the destroyer U.S.S. Ward, Lieutenant William W.
Outerbridge noticed a mysterious object in the water. He ordered his crew to fire at it. The ship’s guns sank a midget Japanese submarine lurking in the water. Outerbridge sent a report of his sighting the fleet. There was a delay in decoding Outerbridge’s message. When John E.
Earle, the fleet’s commander’s chief in staff, finally received it at 7:12 a.m., he dismissed it as a false alarm. Therefore, one warning was ignored (58).
Sometime after 7:53 a.m.
, reports Shapiro, U.S. radar crews in Hawaii picked up blips on their radar screens showing approaching aircraft. They were assumed signals from a group of Flying Fortresses expected to be making previous stopovers. In which case, another signal was ignored (59).
At 7:53 a.
m., Japanese flight attack Commander Mitusuo Fuchida approached his target. He knew he was in a precarious position because his air fleet was dangerously far from its carriers. He expected t find American planes waiting to fight back. Instead, he found nothing except the sunshine. It seemed to him as if the Americans were welcoming him to their country, leaving themselves open to civilian destruction (Bachrach 8)
‘Tora, tora, tora,’ Fuchida radioed back excitedly to his commander, Chuichi Nagumo, waiting with the fleet.
Tora…was the code meaning that the Japanese had succeeded in launching a surprise attack. Two minutes after this signal Japanese bombs began falling like hail on the ninety-six helpless hips in Pearl harbor’s Battleship Row.
The attack was such a complete surprise that it took American forces a few moments to realize what was going on.
“Finally Commander Logan Famsey, a naval patrol plane operations officer, sounded the alarm. ‘ Air raid pearl harbor! This is no drill!’ “ (Bachrach 11).
Bombs exploded everywhere. Screams of the wounded and the scared filled the air. Five torpedoes struck the Oklahoma. Eight minutes later the ship was bottom up in the mud at the harbor.
Only thirty-two of the on-hundred-twenty-five men trapped within the ship finally were cut free thirty-six hours later. Again at 8:40 the second wave of Japanese planes approached Pearl Harbor. By then the first shock of the attack had passed. American forces did what they could to defend the fleet. (13)
Soon it was all over. All but a small number of Japanese planes had made it back to their carrier fleet.
Naguam, his ships and his victorious pilots headed back to the Pacific Ocean, preparing to launch a similar attack against the Philippine islands and their famous commander, Douglas MacArthur. During their course, the Japanese left the smoldering ruins of the once proud American Pacific Fleet (15).
For a year and a half the debate that raged the length was over going to war or .