On November 26, 1941 a Japanese aircraft carrier strike force which included six carriers left home waters and set out for the Hawaiian Islands intending to attack and destroy American warships and planes on December 7. The attack was devastatingly successful: eight battleships were heavily damaged as were three cruisers and three destroyers. One hundred and eighty-three planes were destroyed on the ground. Most importantly, 2,403 members of the armed forces lost their lives, 1,177 of them sailors on the battleship USS Arizona which was sunk and today is a memorial to those lost in the battle. By great fortune, three U.S. carriers were at sea, thereby avoiding the fury of the attack.
It was the intention of the Japanese military to drive the U.S. out of the Pacific so they could advance on French Indo-China, Burma, the Philippines, Guam, Wake Island, Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong virtually unopposed. These countries had the resources Japan lacked such as oil, rubber, tin, teak, iron and aluminum. The U.S. had already embargoed scrap metal and oil because of Japan’s aggressions in China further propelling Japan toward war.
While the attack on Pearl Harbor inflicted great damage to the Pacific fleet, it was not fatal. The following day, President Roosevelt in a speech before Congress called the day of the attack, “…a date which will live in infamy.” Congress quickly declared war on the empire of Japan. Eight days later Germany, which had already overrun most of Western Europe, declared war on the U.S. in accord with their mutual defense treaty with Japan. America now was a belligerent in the most horrific war the world had ever witnessed.
SaddleBrooke resident Steve Reggentin has prepared a presentation on the events that set the U.S. on a collision course with the empire of Japan. This talk will be on Thursday, April 19 in the MountainView Clubhouse Sonoran Room at 1:00 p.m. All are welcome.