76 years ago…

On Dec 7, 1941, Japan performed a sneak attack on the US at Pearl Harbor, the attack sank four U.S. Navy battleships (two of which were raised and returned to service later in the war) and damaged four more; other damages included three destroyers, three cruisers, 188 aircraft with 2,402 killed and 1,282 wounded. There are less than a dozen survivors left, at last count. Many have requested they be interred with their shipmates onboard ARIZONA. They are listed on the small bench on the lower left of the picture below.

Everyone knows about the USS ARIZONA, but few know about the ships on the other side of Ford Island. USS UTAH, USS RALEIGH, USS DETROIT, and USS TANGIER.

This is all that is left of the USS UTAH. Today a monument is located on the far side Ford Island near the rusting remains. It replaced a bronze plaque which had been placed on the wreck in the late 1940s. The monument is not listed on most tourist brochures and the memorial attracts few visitors. The official USS UTAH association website is linked here: http://ussutah.org/ and the Historical Naval Ships Association webpage on Utah is here: http://hnsa.org/ships/utah.htm and the Naval History and Heritage Webpage is here: http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-u/bb31-y.htm

The  USS RALEIGH was badly damaged, but the DETROIT and TANGIER escaped.

This day does live in infamy…


76 years ago… — 15 Comments

  1. And then there was the USS Vestal (AR-4). She was moored next to the Arizona and her commander, Cassin Young, earned the MoH for saving his ship that day.

  2. The second pic isn’t displaying.

    I have a few up I took this March when we were on our anniversary cruise. Unfortunately, the multi-media presentations weren’t running, when I was TDY to Shafter 20-odd years ago I went and came away thinking I saw my father-in-law in one shot. He hadn’t enlisted yet, his older brother (everyone thought they were twins) was in boot, but the bubblehead eldest (retired as a Master Chief) WAS at the sub base, so…?

  3. PE- You are correct. There was also the tanker USS NEOSHO that managed to back out of battleship row and make it over to the destroyer pier in the middle of the battle, only to be sunk at Coral Sea.

    Drang- That’s odd. It appears to work here. And yes, you probably did…

    Posted from my iPhone.

  4. My late father-in-law did some of the bomb bay work, mostly electrical stuff, on Bocks Car.

    I don’t know how the aircrew made out, but none of the guys who worked on those planes had to pay for their own liquor for years.

    “I say to you againe, doe not call upp Any that you can not put downe; by theWhich I meane, Any that can in Turne call up somewhat against you, whereby your Powerfullest Devices may not be of use.”
    – Letter from Jedediah Orne: H. P. Lovecraft, ‘The Case of Charles Dexter Ward’

  5. I think the best monument in America is the USS Missouri standing silent sentinel over the Arizona so as to say “rest easy shipmates we won.”

    The Nevada helped Chase the IJN across the Pacific after being repaired. And with a detour to provide gunfire support at Normandy.

  6. I can’t think about the Arizona without thinking of those trapped for sixteen days tapping on the hull, until they expired. It saddens me, and makes me understand the blind rage held toward the Japanese by many Americans after the war.

  7. TRX- Nice piece of history!

    Mack- Great point!

    Jess- Agreed. My cousin, to the day he died, hated the Japanese. Two distant cousins died on the ARIZONA.

  8. The ussutah.org link didn’t work for me – it came up with a domain for sale.

  9. My Dad’s older brother was aboard the West Virginia, trapped in a “torqued” gun turret when the order was given to abandon ship. After another explosion the door to the turret opened and they found themselves alone on the ship. The “Tennessee” shot a line over to my Uncle and two others and they moved hand-over-had to the TN as the WV sank.
    Today is my Father’s birthday. He’d have been 96 today if he was still living. A Purple Heart recipient, he served in New Guinea, Leyte, and Luzon.
    Kids today DO NOT get the same history lesson from their parents that I received.
    And that’s a shame.

    • It all comes down to one of two options:

      A) the White House, State Department, and War Department were so clueless and incompetent that, despite warnings from practically everywhere, they simply didn’t see it coming, or couldn’t be bothered to take the most basic precautions if they did

      or B) the President, Secretary of State, and Secretary of War colluded to make it happen

      There were two major investigations as to B), both of which found plenty of evidence, but ruled nothing untoward had gone on. “Nothing to see here, move along.”

      Me, I look at the same evidence and come to an entirely different judgement. But all of those involved are gone, and nobody really cares.

      I do note that while Admiral Husband Kimmel was the “designated fall guy”, his family and descendants spent the next fifty years working to clear his name, and he was finally exonerated by the US Senate in 2000.

  10. There’s a picture you’ve probably seen a thousand times, MacArthur and the Japanese envoys on the deck of the Missouri. MacArthur is seated at a desk, the Japanese are standing in front of him, and two skinny guys are standing behind him, and then rows of dignitaties further back.

    The two guys… the nearest is Jonathan Wainwright, US Army, the guy beside him is Arthur Percival, British Army. They’d spent the most of the previous few years in various Japanese prison camps. The liberating forces had dragged them out, hosed them off, dressed them up, and flown them out to the USS Missouri.

    Wainright surrendered his forces at Corregidor, in direct contravention of George C. Marshall’s orders. Percival had surrendered Singapore against Winston Churchill’s direct orders.

    Both men had been put into impossible situations and then royally screwed by their higher-ups. Pretty much everyone in the Allied forces knew it. And they didn’t like it at all. Which is why Wainright and Percival are standing there in the prime spots; a slap in the face to the swivel-chair officers in DC and London.

    Unfortunately, you have to do some reading on the Pacific theater in WW2 to get an idea of how badly those two guys were set up to fail. The Wikipedia entry on Wainright doesn’t even mention how he and his men got ordered into an untenable position, bottled up and had to surrender. You’ve heard about the Bataan Death March? Wainwright and his surviving force… they were *those* guys. Who had been ordered to stand fast and die, for no particular reason George C. Marshall ever chose to give, he being the one who’d personally ordered it.

    The entry on Percival is written by someone who wants him to look incompetent, which he wasn’t. Percival’s situation was vastly more political and complex than Wainright’s, but in the end, they were all supposed to die too.

    But enough people knew what had really happened, and people knew other people, and the wheels turned, and there they were. Small recompense for seeing their commands slaughtered and then spending years in POW camps to dwell on it. And eventually the official US Army photographers recorded their presence at the end of the war, like Death in medieval paintings.

    Most people don’t know who those two guys were, or why they were standing there.

    And now you do.

    Both men are stone heroes in my book, and I like to think they made “Dugout Doug” squirm while they looked over his shoulder.

    Ironically, I first encountered Wainwright’s story in the autobiography of a Japanese kamikaze pilot who was, despite being on the other side, outraged. I was curious enough to follow up on it, and found out he had, if anything, understated things.

  11. TRX,

    Damn, wasn’t aware of that, and now I have some reading to do.


  12. The USS Utah took an enormous beating, and and probably saved a couple of her younger sisters. She had been converted to a target ship, with her weather deck and superstructure bedecked with large timber panels. From the air, in combat, she looked like a carrier. Absorbed a lot of bomb hits and some torpedoes that would otherwise have destroyed escorts, or wrecked the remainder of the BatRons beyond repair or salvage. Two battleships were lost, the USS Arizona to an explosion that broker her in half, and the USS Oklahoma was partly salvaged, but lost while being towed to the west coast. The remaining six were raised, repaired and updated, and returned to service.

    Just some late notes. I always need to think a third time about that day, and why I need to be watchful now.