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December 7, 1941 – A Date Which Will Live In Infamy

Pearl Harbor is a U.S. naval base near Honolulu, Hawaii, that was the scene of a devastating surprise attack by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. Just before 8 a.m. on that Sunday morning, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes descended on the base, where they managed to destroy or damage nearly 20 American naval vessels, including eight battleships, and over 300 airplanes.

December 7, 1941 - A Date Which Will Live In Infamy

More than 2,400 Americans died in the attack, including civilians, and another 1,000 people were wounded. The day after the assault, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan.

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In all, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor crippled or destroyed nearly 20 American ships and more than 300 airplanes. Dry docks and airfields were likewise destroyed. Most important, 2,403 sailors, soldiers and civilians were killed and about 1,000 people were wounded.

But the Japanese had failed to cripple the Pacific Fleet. By the 1940s, battleships were no longer the most important naval vessel: Aircraft carriers were, and as it happened, all of the Pacific Fleet’s carriers were away from the base on December 7. (Some had returned to the mainland and others were delivering planes to troops on Midway and Wake Islands.)

Moreover, the Pearl Harbor assault had left the base’s most vital onshore facilities—oil storage depots, repair shops, shipyards and submarine docks—intact. As a result, the U.S. Navy was able to rebound relatively quickly from the attack.

Read more plus photos and videos at History.com

Photo: Keystone/Getty Images

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  1. My Father William M. Braddock Retired Sgt.Maj. 27 years USMC combat Vet. is 98 strong now.. was 19 and stationed on Fort island Pearl Harbor on Dec 7th 1941. Saw it all.

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