Commander Logan Ramsey did not know what he was looking at on December 7, 1941, at 7:55 in the morning. It was probably a reckless American pilot. Suddenly realized what was happening and he rushed to the radio room and sent an uncoded message that read “AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR X THIS IS NOT DRILL.”
The Japanese had come to Pearl Harbor in an attempt to wipe out the US Pacific Fleet. It would a day that would “live in infamy.” Over 2,400 Americans were killed in the attack. It was a day that changed that changed the course of history.
The number of Pearl Harbor survivors is diminishing, they may not be around for the next big anniversary, this is why this anniversary in particular, we should remember their service.
Battleship Row was the main target for the attacking Japanese that day. The USS Arizona was one of those battleships. Arizona was hit by a number of bombs in the early going, one of those bombs penetrating the ship’s magazine causing a gigantic explosion. 1,177 of Arizona‘s crew died, almost half of the total casualties suffered that day. Damage to Arizona was so great, that she remains at the bottom of the harbor to this day.
The second greatest loss of life came aboard USS Oklahoma. Oklahoma was hit by eight torpedoes and capsized within the first ten minutes of the battle. 429 men died aboard the Oklahoma. The Oklahoma was raised, but ultimately the Navy concluded was not seaworthy.
Other battleships hit during the attack include the USS Nevada. Bombs are torpedoes forced Nevada to beach at Hospital Point. 57 men lost their lives on the Nevada. Nevada would later be retrieved and would do convoy duty in the Atlantic during the war. USS California was also eventually raised and saw action during the war after 100 men died during the attack. The USS West Virginia was struck by six torpedoes and two bombs during the raid and sunk causing 106 men to lose their lives. West Virginia was also salvaged in 1942.
Other ships that were sunk and later rescued include the minelayer USS Oglala and the harbor tug USS Sotoyomo. The only other ship to be permanently lost was the former battleship USS Utah, which had been destined to be used for target practice.
A number of cruisers and destroyers were also greatly damaged. Destroyers Cassin and Downes had to be rebuilt due to the damage they took.
Acts of Heroism
In all 16 men would be awarded the Medal of Honor that day, most posthumously. They include:
- Chief Petty Officer John Finn- Kaneohe Bay Naval Air Station
- Lieutenant Commander Samuel Fuqua- USS Arizona
- Lieutenant Jackson Pharris- USS California
- Captain Mervyn Bennion- Commanding Officer- USS West Virginia (posthumously)
- Rear Admiral Isaac Kid- Commander of Battleship Division One- USS Arizona (posthumously)
- Captain Franklin Van Valkenburgh- Commanding Officer- USS Arizona (posthumously)
- Captain Cassin Young- Commanding Officer- USS Vestal
- Ensign Francis Flaherty- USS Oklahoma (posthumously)
- Chief Boatswain Edwin Hill- USS Nevada (posthumously)
- Chief Watertender Peter Tomich- USS Utah (posthumously)
- Ensign Hubert Jones- USS California (posthumously)
- Seaman first class James Ward- USS Oklahoma (posthumously)
- Machinist’s Mate first class Robert Scott- USS California (posthumously)
- Lieutenant Commander Donald Ross- USS Nevada
- Chief Radioman Thomas Reeves- USS California (posthumously)
Marine First Lieutenant George Cannon would also be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Midway that day.
In all 111,606 Americans died in the Pacific Theater of World War II. This December 7, marks the 75th anniversary of the start of that war.