How December 7, 1941 became "A Date That Will Live in Infamy"
In November - December of 2021, we marked the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. I did a series of special postings highlighting events starting on November 26, 1941, and ending on December 8, 1941. Below are all of those posts together
26 Nov, 1941 Hittokapu Bay, Kurile Islands, Japan:
After months of planning and training, the Imperial Japanese Navy's 1st Fleets' Strike Force (Kido Butai) weighs anchor and begins steaming eastward out of the harbor.
Its destination: 400 miles NNW of the island of Oahu, Hawaiian Islands.
Its purpose: was to destroy or cripple, by a carrier-based aerial attack, the American Pacific battle fleet based at Pearl Harbor such that it would not be able to halt the Japanese invasions of Malaya, Philippines, and the Dutch East Indies planned in the coming months.
Centered on its six fleet carriers, Kido Butai is an assembly of aircraft carriers and fast escort ships, the likes the world had never witnessed.
The carriers Akagi (Red Castle), Kaga ( Japanese Province), Hiryu (Flying Dragon), Soryu (Green Dragon), Shokaku (Soaring Crane), and Zuikaku (Auspicious Crane) are manned by the finest trained and led naval aviators in the world.
To support its ongoing war in China, the Japanese militarist-led government has determined that the fate of the Japanese nation hinges on seizing the oil, mineral, and rubber resources of the Dutch East Indies Isles. Kido Butai's journey to war will take twelve days, steaming undetected, so the IJN planners hope across the stormy, treacherous north Pacific.
Pearl Harbor, Oahu Island, United States Hawaiian Island territories. The American aircraft carrier USS Enterprise continues provisioning for its departure from Pearl, ordered by Pacific Fleet commander Husband Kimmel, to occur in two days. It ferries a dozen Marine fighter planes to the American airbase at Midway Island, 1500 miles NW of Hawaii.
With war clouds gathering, the American Joint Chiefs have ordered the American Pacific outposts bolstered for the possible outbreak of war. As a result, the Enterprise is expected to return to Pearl on 6 Dec.
Kimmel is nervous about sending one of his two carriers (the venerable USS Lexington) out of Hawaiian waters. Along with the 300 US Army Hawaiian Air Force planes, they provide air cover to the nearly 100 warships of the Pacific fleet based at Pearl. Kimmel knows war might be coming and wants his fleet completely assembled for a prompt response to steam to the western Pacific.
He cannot imagine the war could start outside his office window.
27 Nov 1941 Washington DC:
United States code breakers have been intercepting portions of Japanese diplomatic and military communications issued by the Japanese government through its chain of command.
The communique decoded imply negotiations with the United States are failing and that after 30 Nov, "things are automatically going to happen." With other intelligence and locating significant movement, this news caused the Joint Chiefs to issue a notification to Admiral Kimmel and General Walter Short, commander of all Army forces in Hawaii.
The dispatch advised that possible Japanese amphibious forces could be headed to the Malay Peninsula, Thailand, the Philippines, and/or Borneo and that Kimmel and Short should undertake "appropriate defensive measures." Kimmel noted the significance of the absence of Pearl being mentioned as a target of enemy operations.
Japanese efforts at deceptive radio traffic were also significant, leading American intelligence analysts to believe the 1st Air Fleet remained in home waters conducting exercises.
2900 nautical miles NW of Oahu:
Kido Butai cuts through the highly choppy seas of the winter North Pacific under complete radio silence. Communication between vessels- necessary to maintain formation- was exclusively by visual signals. The ships had the keyboards of their teletype radios sealed with wooden slats to prevent even an accidental keystroke from being sent.
28 Nov 1941 Oahu, Hawaiian Islands:
The USS Enterprise slips out of Pearl Harbor with its escort ships, forming Task Force 8. TF 8 was ordered by Kimmel to deliver a dozen fighters from Marine fighter squadron VMF 211 to reinforce the squadron's fighters already operating on Wake Island. The carrier USS Lexington will deliver additional Marine Corps fighter planes to Midway and leave Pearl on 5 Dec, the day before the Enterprise returns on 6 Dec. This rotation by Kimmel keeps at least one carrier in Hawaiian waters. The third and final American carrier assigned to the Pacific fleet, the Saratoga, is in San Diego undergoing a refit.
President Roosevelt ordered the Pacific Fleet's main base moved from San Diego to Pearl the previous year. It was a point of contention by some Navy brass. The base, though much closer to Japan, made for logistic challenges. Aside from a 2,000-mile supply line of shipping required from the west coast, the harbor was cramped.
However, the cramped Pearl had an advantage that the spacy Lahina anchorage area did not. Pearl was 35 feet deep--too shallow for air-dropped torpedos to work. As a result, their noses would plummet into the mud before leveling off. No anti-torpedo netting along the ships would thus be needed. Besides, the base command thought the netting impeded the already cramped sailing lanes in the harbor.
2600 nautical miles NW of Oahu:
Kido Butai presses on with weather reports broadcasts from Tokyo discussing patterns in all of East Asia and the Pacific areas. A low-pressure system may develop in a week in the north-central Pacific. It will be a challenge sailing through it with only visual signals. However, it could help shield the Mobile Fleet from the Americans.
Onboard the six carriers is a vast armory of aerial torpedos that will be dropped by torpedo bomber aircraft in the planned raid. These torpedos can be fitted with wooden fins. When attached, the fins are designed to immediately shallow the torpedo's dive before hitting Pearl's bottom when dropped from the correct height.
29 Nov, 1941 Oahu, Hawaiian Island National Territories:
The cramped ship space of Pearl was not the only Naval knot in the stomachs of Hawaii's U.S. command. The harbor was surrounded by heights from which anyone on a public road could view. And it was a lovely sight of the expanse of Oahu-- to the east, Diamond Head mountain overlooking Waikiki Beach and Honolulu, and to the west wall of the lochs of Pearl, whose mouth opened to the sea on the south edge of Oahu.
Since March, Takeo Yoshikawa has been enjoying the view nearly every day. Under the cloak of having diplomatic papers as a vice-consulate and with an alias name, Yoshikawa is an IJN intelligence officer monitoring the coming and goings of U.S. aircraft and ships at Pearl and all Oahu. Twice weekly, he sends reports through diplomatic codes to Tokyo.
While the U.S. has penetrated the Japanese diplomatic code, only about 15% is decipherable at any moment. Plus, staff shortages and the seemingly countless mundane exchanges of diplomatic communication between a minor consulate and its homeland places the intercepts on a very low priority for analysis.
Since Kimmel took command of the Fleet early in the year, the peacetime proclivity was still to rotate the capital ships at sea during the week, then have them all at the base on the weekends, thereby allowing crews liberty while the ships are refueled.
The IJN planners took this into account in deciding any raid should be staged on a Sunday, thereby affording the most significant chance that most American capital ships will be present. He did not send any battlewagons with the Enterprise, nor will he when the Lexington leaves Dec 5. They are too slow to keep up with the flattops and their greyhound destroyer escorts.
Short, however, has viewed the muddled language from Gen Marshal's war warning as suggesting espionage may also be afoot. He has the bulk of the Army aircraft at the two major airfields, Hickam and Wheeler, packed tight together in close rows, unfueled and unarmed, out of their hangers and on the edges of the runways.
The primary mission of the Army Air Force in Hawaii is to protect the Pacific Fleet.
2300 NW of Hawaii:
Kido Butai battles fog and heavy seas. Slowed still by the fuel-hungry destroyers having to rendezvous with the tankers, the IJN skill at high sea refueling between ships is sorely tested.
Nevertheless, the detailed plan for arriving in Hawaiian waters by Dec 7 for a strike on Dec 8 (Tokyo time) is on track. All Japanese vessels, Navy, and merchant keep their clocks on Tokyo time.
30 Nov, 1941 2500 miles due West of Oahu:
While sabotage of American aircraft was not part of the IJN's plan for raiding Pearl Harbor, there was a second component to be used in conjunction with the aerial strikes. A day before Kido Butai departed its anchorage in the Kurile Islands, 5 of the biggest submarines in the world secretly departed their Kure naval base in Southern Japan.
Their destination: Oahu
Their mission is to deploy hours before the airstrike with five small two-person submarines. The 'midget' subs were to try to enter Pearl and fire their torpedos at targets of opportunity--the capital ships if possible. Otherwise, they were to loiter about the entrance and attack any vessels attempting to escape from the harbor once the airstrike commenced.
Each midget sub was 70 feet long and carried two torpedos loaded in two tubes.
Aboard his flagship of the Imperial Navy, the Nagato, the Commander in Chief of the Imperial Navy, and architect of Operation Z, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, waits patiently to see if Tokyo reports any diplomatic breakthrough with the Americans necessitating recall of Kido Butai. It was agreed that the Emperor reserved the final determination, but that determination must be made no later than Dec 1, by which time Kido Butai would be halfway to Hawaii.
With orders to return if discovered before then and to sink any non-Japenese craft, Yamamoto and Kido Butai walked a fine line. Opposing war with the West, Yamamoto was familiar with America, its culture, and its industrial capability. He knew any long-term war with America would not bode well for Japan.
He knew that any hope of Japan to seize and hold the Dutch East Indies, the point of going to war with the West, would require something drastic to blunt the inevitable American counterattack. Crippling the Pacific battle fleet while at its home anchorage was a gamble Yamamoto devised and repeatedly pressed until, reluctantly, the highest of Japan's military leadership finally accepted.
1 Dec, 1941 Tokyo:
The Emperor, Hirohito, asks the Cabinet to make a final recommendation for war against the West. The Cabinet was essentially a military oligarchy, made up mostly of generals and admirals. There were three who greatly influenced the Emperor. Prime Minister General Hideki Tojo. The Navy Minister, Admiral Shegitara Shimada, and Shigatori Togo, minister of foreign affairs. The Emperor himself, under the system of governance, was treated more like a constitutional monarchy.
Day-to-day power rested in the Cabinet and the Army and Navy. The 40-year-old Emperor was of disarming appearance. Of slight build and soft-spoken, he enjoyed poetry, marine biology, and botany. When the military pressed for war after the US imposed its oil embargo earlier that summer following Japan's occupation of French Indochina, he was reluctant to support a war with the West. It was said that he was slowly worked on by Tojo and foreign minister Togo.
So on the agreed date for a final determination on war, he asked the Cabinet to assemble and vote.
The vote was unanimous.
1900 miles NW of Oahu:
Kido Butai battles driving rain and mountains of waves. The low-pressure system was upon it. But the storm front did help shield the strike force from alien eyes. This armada is not the only one awaiting orders to attack or stand down. An invasion fleet is headed to the Kra peninsula to seize British-controlled Singapore. Another force on Formosa is preparing to launch airstrikes on the American airfields and naval bases in American the occupied Philippines in preparation for invasion. Japan's warlords felt that the seizure of Singapore and the Philippines was vital to securing its supply line to the East Indies.
Hence war with Britain and America. Indeed another force is amassing across the Hong Kong border for an attack on British-held Hong Kong.
2 Dec, 1941 1600 nautical miles NW of Oahu:
What impressed Yamamoto about Chuichi Nagumo was his understanding of linking airpower with sea power. Since April, in command of the 1st Mobile Air Fleet, perhaps more by seniority than any grasp of carrier tactics, Nagumo was looked upon as a father figure by his men. All his years of commanding and training ships will need to serve him well now as he received the coded broadcast from Yamamoto on the Nagato: "Climb Mount Niitaka." It was the go-code for the raid on Oahu.
The carriers now perform an arduous dance with the tankers for line hookups to begin replenishing their oil bunkers.
Opana point, north-central coast of Oahu:
On Thanksgiving day, one of six mobile radar sets operated by the Army on Oahu was moved from Schofield Barracks outside Pearl to Opana Point. The point was a cliff line over 500 feet above the water with an unobstructed ocean view. It consisted of a transmitter, module, water cooler, receiver, and oscilloscope. It was the first long-range radar the US had developed in 1937. The operator peered onto a small round screen with a horizontal line like an EKG monitor used in medicine in later decades-- any reflection of radios waves off airplanes or flocks of birds would cause the flat line to spike. The antenna, a grid of wires and struts several feet high and wide, had to be pointed in the direction of inquiry.
What did not work was General Short's grasp of what this technology was good for. At the insistence of Air Corps Chief Hap Arnold, the sets were sent to Oahu and the Philippines to assist in air defense. Not only did he not organize a chain of communication or training for the radars, Short even ordered the infernal machines to be operated only for 4 hours each day and be shut down by 7 am.
The plans of Operation Z call for the first assault wave to hit the Army airfields on Oahu no later than 8.
3 Dec, 1941 Oahu, Hawaii:
British intelligence sources in Manila share their findings and conclusions with their American colleagues. It is confirmed that at least 30 Japanese ships are forming south of Cam Rahn Bay. The British cable also confirms that since November, 10,100,000 Imperial Japanese Army troops have been deployed in Indochina north of the Kra Peninsula. The cable concludes that Japan will not attack the Soviet Union in the immediate future but will act southward and commence hostilities soon against Britain and the US.
Kimmel and his operations staff demand an answer from their intelligence staff as to where the six main Japanese fleet carriers of the 1st Air Fleet are. It is simply not clear. A few days ago, radio traffic suggested the fleet was conducting exercises in the inland sea. The other five light carriers are either not placed or have been attached to the IJA Indochina fleet forces.
1500 nautical miles NNW of Oahu:
Kido Butai has refueled the carriers and its heavy battleship escorts.
700 nautical miles due east of Wake Island:
Task Force 8 steams at high speed eastward to Pearl. The Marine fighter aircraft it was ferrying to reinforce the Marine garrison at Wake Island flew off its decks. On the Enterprise bridge is TF 8's celebrated commander Vice Admiral William Halsey. Nicknamed "Bull" in the press, bullishness indeed marked this irrepressible advocate of carrier warfare. Getting his flight wings as a naval aviator at the age of 52 in 1935 (the oldest person to ever qualify as a naval aviator in the history of the Navy), he was Kimmel's favored fighter.
Before leaving Pearl on the Wake Island mission, Kimmel gave Halsey a free hand to act in his best judgment if TF 8 encountered any Japanese ships. Enterprise will arrive at Pearl on Dec 6, where it will get refueled and be ready to fight the Japanese whenever or wherever they launch their war. Unbeknownst to the "Bull" and his officers, the storm system that cloaked Kido Butai 2,000 miles to the north begins sailing its course southward.
4 Dec 1941 Manila, Luzon Island, Philippines:
General Douglas MacArthur, commander of all American forces in the Philippines, orders his Air Corp commander Lewis Berenton to send reconnaissance air patrols to the north to locate any Japanese forces that may be sailing toward the Philippines. Berenson, not wanting to risk his long-range bombers, sends fighter aircraft with a much shorter range. Naval PBY Catalina flying boats confirm a large formation of troop transports in Cam Rahn Bay.
Japanese ambassadors Kurusu and Nomura continue to meet with Secretary of State Cordell Hull. Roosevelt is contemplating how to proceed in the stalled negotiations. Since the delivery a week ago of the American proposal of the Japanese withdrawing from China to resume the oil trade, the ambassadors have demurred in any definitive response. And it has been a week since the Chiefs of Staff issued war warnings to the Pacific/Asian commands.
1200 miles NNW of Oahu:
Kido Butai turns SSE and closes on Oahu from the north. Operation Z planners determined that the best approach was from the north. It was the least protected by enemy scouting aircraft and ships. One more major refueling will occur before the force turns due south to position itself for a dawn launch on Dec 7, Hawaii time.
The Japanese notion of attacking from the north was not entirely foreign to the American Navy. A decade before, American naval wargames made such a carrier raid entirely feasible. And deadly.
The carrier Lexington prepares to depart Pearl. It will haul Marine fighter planes to bolster the Marine garrison at Midway Island. No battleships will accompany the Lady Lex, the largest of the 7 American fleet carriers on the Navy's rolls.
Kimmel plans to tuck the entire battle fleet in Pearl until Enterprise and Lexington return. After their night exercises, Arizona, Nevada, and Oklahoma will return to Pearl tomorrow.
The crews will be given Saturday liberty. But will be expected to return to their ships for Sunday morning reveille and white-glove inspections.
5 Dec 5 1941 900 nautical miles NNW of Oahu, Hawaii:
Kido Butai has been steaming at nearly flank speed to its designated position by dawn on Dec 7. Arms and supplies ship across North Pacific shipping lanes from the US west coast ports to Soviet ports in eastern Siberia. Japan is already in two wars--one against the Nationalist Chinese Army under Chaing Kai-shek and the other against the Communist Chinese Army of Mao Tse Tung.
In 48 hours, Britain, its Commonwealth nations, and the US will be added to the list of wars.
600 nautical miles west of Oahu:
TF 8 has been hit by a storm that popped up from the leading edge of the unstable weather system sweeping from the NW. Possibly delaying Enterprise's return to Pearl.
Calm weather sees Lexington leave Pearl and sail NW to Midway. Warned of the weather, its group may avoid the system moving south quickly. With Lady Lex's departure, three veteran battlewagons return from sea exercises. Oklahoma leads the way, entering the harbor and heading north in the entrance channel. It snuggles in outboard of Maryland, already moored next to the shore.
Behind them to the NE is the West Virginia (outboard) and Tennessee (inboard)
Behind Tennessee, Arizona docks at its station near Ford's shore.
The Nevada is behind Arizona.
Ahead of this line, the furthest SW along Ford's south shore is the California. The Pennsylvania is in drydock across the harbor to the SE of Ford.
All 8 of the Pacific battle fleet are home.
All bows of battleship row point SW, ready to steam to the channel to get out of the harbor if called to action.
6 Dec 1941 Washington DC:
An instruction from Tokyo to ambassador Nomura was read by American intelligence. There is to be a 14 part statement being sent to Nomura. It is Japan's final response to the Americans. Nomura is instructed to deliver it tomorrow at precisely 1:30 pm Washington time. Meanwhile, Roosevelt drafts a personal message to the Emperor, imploring their nations to discuss a resolution. However, it does not alter any of the terms of its previous proposal.
400 nautical miles west of Oahu:
Task Force 8 chops thru the foul weather. Halsey determines they will not make Pearl today. They expect tomorrow to clear, so Enterprise will launch fighters and proceed to Oahu to land there.
Hamilton Field, San Francisco:
13 B-17Es take off for a grueling 12-hour flight to Oahu. Hawaii will be a stopover to their ultimate destination of the Philippines to reinforce American defenses. Two turned back for mechanical issues. The other 11 press on, not realizing how pivotal their Oahu arrival would be in the course of events.
400 Nautical miles N of Oahu:
Completing its final refueling, Kido Butai turns SSW to take up 200 nautical miles NNW of the Oahu parking station. There will be two waves, the first of over 180 fighters, dive/horizontal bombers, and torpedo bombers. It will launch at dawn's twilight. It will attack all Army, Navy, and Marine airfields to suppress any air defense of the harbor and any possible counter-strike against the IJN carriers. Simultaneously, torpedo and dive bombers will also attack the harbor from all directions.
Such a complex execution demanded enormous calculation and rigorous, extensive training of the aircrews. Again and again, for many weeks, they practiced over terrain vaguely representing southern Oahu and Pearl.
A second wave, taking off an hour after the first, will be 170 planes composed exclusively of fighters and dive/horizontal bombers. It will hit targets not already destroyed in the first wave. Carriers and battleships are priority in the harbor, targets, cruisers, and destroyers next. Wharves, tankers, and drydocks, third.
Along with their torpedos adapted with unique fins for shallow runs in shallow Pearl, IJN technicians have adapted armor-piercing gun shells with fins to become aerial bombs that will penetrate the armored decks of the battleships.
7 Dec 1941 PART I of III: First wave Oahu:
The US Navy made the opening shot of the Pacific war. At 6:45 in the morning, after being alerted to a suspicious sub-conning tower in the water just off the entrance to Pearl Harbor, the Destroyer USS Ward's commander spots it and fires at it, and when it disappears under the water, drops depth charges. Ward reports the event to Harbor HQ. It was one of the five mini-subs the IJN mother subs deployed hours before.
7:02 am: The crew manning Opana Pt radar, who kept the scope running past General Short's 7 am shutdown mandate because their pick-up truck was late, spots a large formation- of aircraft 132 miles to the north. Reported to the communication center, the junior officer on duty assumed it was the group of B-17s due from California that morning. He does not pass the information on to higher Air Corps command.
7:45 am: The minesweeper Avocet moored at Ford Island shoots down a Japanese bomber which crashes on hospital grounds to the south. Moments later, three torpedo bombers' torpedos show the modified fins' efficacy--they run well and hit Oklahoma. No enemy aircraft are in the air. The entire battle fleet is at anchor. Disappointingly to Fuchida, no carriers appear to be present.
The airfields are all hit simultaneously, and the neat rows of parked planes make perfect demolition. Over half of the Army planes on Oahu are destroyed by battle's end. Scores of others were damaged. Only a handful of Army fighter pilots get airborne but extract a heavy price from the attackers.
In the harbor, torpedo pilots from the west press their attack against the ships on the north side of Ford. It is where the American carriers are typically moored. Torpedos hit the cruisers Helena and Raliegh, the blast from Helena shattering the hull of minesweeper Oglala next to it.
Utah, a pre-WWI battleship converted to a training vessel in 1931 with its big guns removed, is mistaken as a carrier. It is hit by two torpedos in the port hull and capsizes quickly, trapping 62 men in its hull.
On the south side of Ford, another torpedo hits the port side of Oklahoma, and in 15 mins, it capsizes, trapping hundreds of crew in its hull.
8:05 am: The California takes two torpedos on its port hull, blasting massive holes. Counter flooding by its commander prevents capsizing, but its deck settles low in the water. An 1800-pound gun shell bomber plummets several decks through the top deck near turret 2 of the Arizona. It explodes, setting off the magazines in the Number Two turret. The explosion heavily damaged the Vestal. A repair ship anchored outboard the Arizona. Burning debris flies onto Ford Island starting fires that can't be extinguished because the Arizona quickly settles to the harbor bottom crushing the main water line servicing Ford.
Nevada, behind the Arizona, takes a torpedo to its stern and starts taking water. Its Captain orders the ship to build steam to begin moving out of the harbor
Seven torpedos and two armor-piercing bombs hit the West Virginia. Prompt counterflooding prevents it from capsizing, but it settles on the harbor floor in short order. It becomes engulfed in flames from the oil of the Arizona behind it.
The 11 B17s arriving from California fly into chaos. Shot at by IJN fighters and fellow American anti-aircraft fire. An enemy fighter shoots one down; the others come down, some crash landing wherever they can find a flat field.
830 am: IJN bombers now swarm the Pennsylvania, one bomb hitting it in drydock, but near misses strike two other destroyers in the dock with it, shattering them in a conflagration.
Then suddenly, the attack slackens.
The first wave is over; the second is arriving.
7 Dec 1941 PART II of III: The Second Wave Pearl Harbor:
When the IJN planes of the first wave began bombing, the anti-aircraft defenses of Pearl and the airbases were non-existent. Ammunition was locked away. No guns were manned. But the constant training by Kimmel of the crews pays off. Improvising and scrambling after the shock and disbelief wore off, flying American lead got some IJN plans of the first wave.
A substantially more lethal response greeted the second wave.
The Tennessee and Maryland suffer bomb hits but nothing disabling. The California, already low in the water, suffers a hit igniting a massive fire. It is doomed to settle on the harbor floor.
The destroyer Cassin is set afire by a hit.
Over Bellows airfield, two American pilots are tragically shot down by friendly fire. The seaplane tender Curtiss' anti-aircraft fire hits an enemy plane. Glee turned to horror when the flaming craft's pilot redirected his aircraft into the ship.
A second bomb hits the Pennsylvania.
A single bomb blast damages the cruisers St Louis and Honolulu.
The destroyer Monaghan, narrowly dodging a torpedo from the sub, pursues and rams it. Then depth charges are dropped the explosion lifts the Monaghan's stern out of the water.
A bomb hit on the destroyer Shaw igniting its forward magazine in a spectacular explosion 2nd only to Arizona's. The bow is completely blown off.
The mountains of black smoke from burning ships and oil now tower thousands of feet into the air and drape a curtain across the harbor. It obscures IJN pilots' ability to hit targets better, as does the anti-aircraft fire.
Admiral Kimmel, racing from his home to his office, has alerted enemy subs in the harbor. He also orders any battleships that can leave. But then he revises the order--they are to stay, and the destroyers are to leave the harbor and look for enemy subs. While Kimmel stands at a window watching the calamity, a spent bullet crashes through and harmlessly bounces off his white tunic. He remarks that it would have been better than it had killed him.
The Nevada has pulled out of battleship row in a desperate attempt to leave the harbor before it meets the fate of its comrades. Its captain directs it to be beached on a point on the east side of the entrance channel south of Ford Island.
As a final twist of tragic irony, the flight of 18 Scout planes from Enterprise arrived in Pearl during the raid. Six were shot down by enemy fighters or friendly fire. Eight airmen were killed.
Kido Butai 12:30:
Upon Commander Fuchida's return with the 2nd wave, Nagumo's staff and Fuchida urge the third strike. There is no air resistance. The enemy air force is destroyed. The entire American fleet of 96 ships is theirs for the taking. Now, the moment Yamamoto could only have hoped for was at hand.
7 Dec 1941 PART III of III: Decision Washington DC
Over an hour after the IJN attack began, Ambassador Nomura and envoy Kurusu delivered the lengthy Japanese Government's response to Sec of St Hull in Hull's office. They missed the prescribed delivery time instructed by Tokyo by well over an hour. The response was a long dissertation on Japan's trials and tribulations for survival against the difficult and contentious policies of the U.S. In the end; it did not explicitly declare war. It simply stated Japan was done negotiating with the U.S.
Under the Japanese notion of international decency, the message was to be delivered a half-hour before the attacks began. Instead, it was delivered an hour late. In addition, staff shortages and the document length required decoding and re-typing, requiring staff to work all night and all morning.
Hull's response in reading the document, all the while knowing Pearl was under assault at that moment, was a castigation of the diplomats. He stated that Japan had presented falsehoods and distortions on a massive scale that he could never have believed any nation capable of them.
Army H.Q. Oahu 11:30 Hawaii time
Gen Short is delivered a cable from Army Chief of Staff Marshall, who drafted it several hours before the attack began. It advised that the 14-part message from Tokyo to Nomura had been decoded. Marshall stated that while it's unclear what the mandated timing of its delivery to Hull means, Marshall surmises the U.S. might be attacked at or after 8 am Hawaii time, and Short was to be on alert accordingly.
200 Nautical miles NNW of Oahu:
Nagumo listens to his staff and Fuchida, who beg to launch another strike. The planes are being refueled and rearmed and ready to launch within the hour. Nagumo gets a report of his losses. 29 planes were missing. At least another 75 shot up. Most of these casualties were on the 2nd raid. American anti-aircraft fire was much stiffer after the first wave.
Where are the American carriers? They were not in the harbor, and their whereabouts are completely unknown. Over the horizon? Is there a strike force flying toward Kido Butai now?
The American Pacific battle fleet has been neutralized. Further attacks may only inflict more unnecessary casualties on his air units, which are slated to support the invasions of Wake, Guam, the Philippines, Malaya, Thailand, and the East Indies in the coming days and weeks. Almost one-quarter of his airpower has been lost or damaged.
Kido Butai is the most critical asset of Japan and must not have been lost when the war was only beginning.
The order is given: Flank speed N.W. Away from Hawaii and back to bases in the west.
200 nautical miles W of Oahu:
Bull Halsey is a steaming bull. He is ordered to seek and destroy the Japanese fleet wherever it is. Task Force 8 begins its hunt. Radar sweeps all directions, and scout planes too. 600 miles from Midway, where it is to deliver its plans for the Marines, Lexington is also ordered fast about. So it begins its sweep for the enemy.
8 Dec 1941 War
The speech lasted 8 minutes. Its opening line immediately became an epochal icon in the liturgy of American history. The vote in the Senate in response to Roosevelt asking Congress to declare war on Japan was 82-0. In the House, only one no vote was cast--by pacifist Jeanette Rankin, the first female elected to the House, who also voted no to the US declaring war against Germany in 1917.
At twilight, after going West and South of Oahu for the previous 36 hours, Enterprise enters the devastated harbor. Fires still burned on Ford, the airfields, and the Arizona and the California.
The Big E will be quickly refueled and return to the sea before dawn. There is no telling if enemy carriers are still in the region and will strike again or an invasion force is coming.
Kimmel's favorite fighter Bull Halsey will be with TF 8 for several days more until intelligence confirms the IJN fleet carriers are, in fact, back in Japan or Truck Atoll. He will be among the American representatives standing on the quarter deck of the USS Missouri 45 months hence during the surrender ceremony of Japan. And he will retire a 5 star Admiral, one of only 9 men in the American military to hold 5 stars in any service.
His friend and boss, Admiral Husband Kimmel, will not share such a celebrated fate. Relieved of command 10 days after the Day of Infamy, he will be found by a board to be guilty of dereliction of duty, a hideous disgrace. He will resign from the Navy the following year, losing two of his 4 stars.
Lt Gen General Walter Short was relieved within days and was found to be in dereliction of duty. He retired from service early the following year, losing one of his three starts.
Admiral Chuichi Nagumo will lead Japan's 1st Air Fleet in several campaigns supporting the invasions of Dutch East Indies and raids against Australia and British bases in the Indian Ocean. In command of the IJN carrier force at Midway, indecision and hesitancy will cost him and Japan 4 carriers in that battle. A catastrophe that changed the strategic course of the war, ending Nagumo commanding a fleet again. Eventually assigned to command Navy troops on Saipan, he commits suicide during the 1944 battle for that island.
Isoroku Yamamoto remained popular with the Japanese public after Pearl Harbor, but less so in the Government's eyes after the Midway debacle, an operation also of his making. His gambler's luck will ultimately run out when he is shot down and killed in an American aerial ambush while flying to visit forward bases on Bougainville in 1943.
While all of the ships of Kido Butai were sunk by the war's end, except for one destroyer, its adversary, the Enterprise, went on to fight in nearly every significant naval action in the Pacific, including Midway. It received more citations and was engaged in more actions than any other vessel in the history of the United States Navy. After post-war decommissioning, private fundraising could not save it from the scrap heap. Its name, however, lived on in the first nuclear carrier to serve in the Navy, but as the celebrated Starship in the tv science fiction series Star Trek.
Of the 21 warships and support vessels sunk or damaged at Pearl, all but three were raised, repaired, and/or refitted to serve in the war.
The Oklahoma was turned upright but was judged not worth refitting for service. After the war, it was sold for scrap and sank when being towed to the west coast.
The Utah remains on its port side, with 58 of its crew still at their stations.
A few feet below the water, the Arizona remains a tomb to 800 crew. Still at rest.
The Japanese, believing themselves to have a superior spirit as a nation compared to the decadent, corrupt West, could not envision the Americans enduring the blood or having the fortitude of will required to beat down the Rising Sun, and so went to war.
At Midway, the dispelling began when an IJN admiral remarked during the battle, "These Americans hurl themselves at our ships like Samurai."