SEBRING — It took the Japanese just minutes to devastate the aircraft and and ships in the first wave of the attack on Pearl Harbor in Oahu, Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941. The early morning attack caught the base unaware and the cost was astronomical in terms of human injury and loss.
The attack lasted under two hours.
At the order “Tora, Tora, Tora,” the first wave of Japanese military struck. The first strike was heavy-handed and effective. It included 180 aircraft, including torpedo bombers, dive bombers and more according to history.com. The second wave’s arsenal was smaller but still powerful.
By the end of the “date which will live in infamy,” as said by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, more than 2,400 were killed and more than 1,100 were wounded, including civilians. The next day, the United States declared war on Japan. President Roosevelt announced America’s entrance into the war with its allies, China, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union.
The human toll was terrible and the loss of military resources was high and one-sided. The Americans lost 160 American aircraft, with another 150 aircraft and battleships damaged and destroyed and the capsizing the USS Oklahoma and sinking of the USS Arizona, according to the govinfo.com. It also stated that 12 ships were sunk or beached and 150 others were damaged.
No aircraft carriers were at the base on the day of the attack, so they weren’t lost.
The Japanese lost almost 30 aircraft and five midget submarines and approximately 30 people.
The USS Arizona Memorial is a popular place for remembering the events of the day. The National Parks website states the memorial is closed for repairs until March 2019.
In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed Proclamation 6758 to designate Dec. 7 as “National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.” It has been signed by every president since. Proclamation 6758 says American flags should be flown at half-mast until sunset in honor of those who lost their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Highlands County resident Jack Moore was a 19-year-old young man when he survived the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Retired U.S. Navy First Class Gunnerman has long since left the USS Sacramento in Pearl Harbor but the memories are still with him.
“At 0755 (7:55 a.m.) I got to the top deck and I saw a bomber with a Japanese flag on the fuselage on the plane,” Moore recalled. “I thought to myself ‘We are having a very thorough simulation today.’ Then I saw the torpedo that it was about to drop. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
“The ship was in dry dock for routine maintenance; we were painting the hull,” Moore said. “We were in a position by a hammerhead drain that protected us.”
Moore said throughout the attack the ship’s position had protected them. There were other odd things that helped him and the crew during the attack such as a hammer left behind that would later break open a locked ammunition box.
As a gunner’s mate, Moore knew what he had to do. He ran to the 50-caliber machine guns and threw the covers off them. Then he tried to load the ammunition into the big gun but the munition boxes were locked. A hammer was left on deck — something Moore said would normally never been the case. He took the hammer and knocked off the lock and got the guns loaded.
The teenager was firing at Japanese aircraft that were trying to kill him in return. When a gunnerman arrived, Moore surrendered the weapon to him.
“Eventually the gun malfunctioned,” Moore said. “We could only sit and wait. The bombers started coming by. The 50 caliber couldn’t reach that height. You could see the bombs. That was the scariest part for me. It felt like they were going to drop on my head.
“I had a panoramic view of the bay, I watched the slaughter happen,” he said. “It only took 11 minutes for every ship to be dead or sinking.
“We went and licked out wounds. No one slept that night,” he said.
The Military Sea Services Museum at 1402 Roseland Ave. in Sebring has a display on Pearl Harbor and knowledgeable guides. The display will be up until Monday, Dec. 17.