Pearl Harbor Facts
Pearl Harbor Facts

38 Historical Facts about Pearl Harbor

Madeline Thatcher
By Madeline Thatcher, Associate Writer
Published July 15, 2019
  • Tensions existed between the United States and Japan for several decades before the attack on Pearl Harbor, most notably from the refusal to admit Japanese immigrants into the United States and territory treaties that left Japan with less land than they desired.[3]
  • Japanese military commanders were inspired to attack Pearl Harbor by a 1925 book entitled The Great Pacific War. The book detailed a conflict between the United States and Japan that was instigated by a Japanese attack on the American Pacific Fleet.[4]
  • A 1936 publication by the Japanese Navy War College noted that Pearl Harbor would be an excellent point for a future attack.[3]
  • The Japanese military ordered the attack on Pearl Harbor on November 5, 1941. By November 16, military forces had started gathering in the Kuril Islands to prepare for the attack.[4]
  • The Japanese government remained in negotiations with the United States up until the attack.[4]
  • War on Japan Fact
    The Pearl Harbor attack was featured prominently in U. S. military recruitment advertising
  • At the time of the attack, Japanese military forces included 6 aircraft carriers, 2 battleships, 3 cruisers, 11 destroyers, and over 350 planes.[4]
  • The United States military had over 100 naval ships as well as army and air force weaponry stationed at Pearl Harbor.[4]
  • On three separate occasions in October and November 1941, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, one half of the command team at Pearl Harbor, was sent urgent messages detailing the possibility of an attack at Pearl Harbor.[4]
  • Lieutenant General Walter C. Short shared command of Pearl Harbor with Admiral Husband E. Kimmel.[4]
  • On the morning of the Pearl Harbor attack, United States military leaders learned that Japanese ambassadors had been instructed to ask for an interview with the secretary of state, a move that signaled war with the Japanese had begun.[4]
  • The crew aboard the Kido Butai, the Japanese warship that led the attack, ate a dinner of red rice and tai the night before the attack, a meal generally eaten at times of celebration.[6]
  • The war declaration sent by the Japanese government to the United States secretary of state was not received until two hours before the beginning of the assault, and military leaders at Pearl Harbor were not alerted to the threat until after the attack had begun.[4]
  • Japanese military commanders chose a Sunday morning for the attack in order to inflict maximum damage on unsuspecting U.S. troops.[4]
  • The first Japanese plane flew over Pearl Harbor at 7:55 a.m.[4]
  • There were nearly 200 grounded American planes stationed at Pearl Harbor on the day of the attack. By the end of the assault, 42 were completely destroyed, 41 had sustained damage, and only 43 were still capable of flight.[4]
  • Pearl Harbor Attack
    Over 2,000 soldiers lost their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor

  • Most ships in the harbor were not fully manned at the time of the attack, since the planes arrived early on Sunday morning.[4]
  • The battleship USS Arizona exploded; the West Virginia, Utah, and California sank to the bottom of the harbor, and the Oklahoma rolled over from the force of the torpedo blasts.[4]
  • At 8:50 a.m., about an hour after the first attack, a second attack by the Japanese began.[4]
  • The second attack of the morning was not as successful as the first, but it still managed to damage several ships and planes.[4]
  • Exactly 2,335 military personnel died in the attack, and over 1,000 more sustained injuries; 218 civilians were also killed.[2][4]
  • Three U.S. aircraft carriers had been sent on missions outside of Pearl Harbor and sustained no damage. One ship, the USS Enterprise, was scheduled to return to port on December 6 but had been delayed by weather.[4]
  • The Japanese did not destroy any of the important oil storage facilities on Oahu, even though they were located just south of the site of the second attack.[4]
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt called December 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy.”[4]
  • On December 8, 1941, the United States declared war on Japan, in direct response to the attack on Pearl Harbor.[4]
  • Eisenhower Declaration of War
    President Roosevelt declared war on Japan the day after the Pearl Harbor attack
  • On December 11, 1941, Germany and Italy, which were allies of Japan, declared war on the United States, in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor.[4]
  • Jeannette Rankin, the U. S. representative from Montana, was the only member of Congress who voted against declaring war on Japan.[4]
  • Both Admiral Kimmel and Lieutenant General Short were removed from their positions overseeing Pearl Harbor after the attack.[4]
  • Only the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, sparked as big of an investigation as did Pearl Harbor.[4]
  • The United States military did not believe the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor for a variety of reasons, including an underestimation of the strength of Japanese forces and the inevitability of America entering WWII if provoked.[4]
  • Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto came up with the idea to attack Pearl Harbor. Captain Minoru Genda crafted the plan to do so.[5]
  • The Japanese intended to send a declaration of war before the attack in order to uphold the Hague Convention of 1907, but they were delayed in doing so.[4]
  • The USS Arizona sank with its crew on board, where they remain to this day.[4]
  • Half of the death toll from Pearl Harbor was the crew aboard the Arizona.[5]
  • As costly as it was in the lives of our men and women in uniform, in military assets, and in esteem and pride, Pearl Harbor was a watershed moment for America.

    - Joe Baca

  • One Japanese solider was taken prisoner.[5]
  • Fifteen men received the U.S. Navy Medal of Honor due to their courageous actions during the Pearl Harbor attack.[1]
  • Fifty-one Navy Crosses were awarded for heroism at Pearl Harbor.[1]
  • The site of the USS Arizona is the most popular tourist destination on the Hawaiian Islands.[7]
  • The attack on Pearl Harbor was the worst naval attack in United States history.[7]
  • Amazing Pearl Harbor Facts INFOGRAPHIC
    Pearl Harbor Infographic

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