Pearl Harbor Essay, Research Paper
On December 7, 1941, Eighteen United States ships, and more than two hundred aircraft’s were either destroyed or damaged. The battleship Arizona was a total wreck, while the West Virginia and the California lay below the Pacific waters. “Approximately 2,555 servicemen and 68 civilians lost their lives that day in an attack that could have well been prevented.”(Linton 12) Consequently Pearl Harbor that day turned into a disaster because of a few mistakes.
While the U.S. watched the struggle in Europe, their relationships with Japan grew steadily worse as time passed. Japan took over Manchuria, began a war with China, and then turned their attention to Indochina and the Indies. After these events the United States position was now obviously clear, they were going to cut Japan off. However Japan’s population could not survive without raw materials, a market, and oil. Japan felt that the United States was interfering in their plan to expand into Eastern Europe. “To make all matters worse, on October 17, 1941 Lieutenant-General Hideki Tojo became the new Japanese Prime Minister.”(Weintraub 54) Then on November 5, Hideki Tojo revealed the plans for war that he felt was increasingly certain. The leaders in Washington also intercepted messages that indicated a possible attack, but the instructions seemed too vague to even be recognized as something serious.
On Saturday December 6, American radio monitors intercepted a message which made it clear Japan was about to break diplomatic relations with the United States. However, radio communications with Hawaii had been down due to the atmospheric conditions so they decided to send the message by cable instead. Since two or three people made minor mistakes the message was delayed.
While saluting our nations flag at the sound of the Star Spangled Banner Nagumo’s fleet had arrived about 230 miles from Oahu unseen and unsuspected by any American. “The first wave consisted of 189 Japanese planes, six carriers, two battleships, three cruisers, several destroyers and tankers all under the command of Japan’s Vice Admiral Chuichi.”(Gross 71) Japan’s first wave reached their targets just before 8:00a.m. finding their targets in neatly arranged rows. An hour and fifty minutes later, the last Japanese plane of 171 from the second wave had left their carriers heading straight for Pearl Harbor.
The attack on Pearl Harbor lasted 110 minutes and in those 110 minutes the United States had suffered the worst Military disaster of its history. There were eight battleships damaged and five were sunk. “Two thousand four hundred American soldiers and sailors were killed and 1,178 were wounded.”(Linton 15) The Japanese on the other hand lost less than 100 men. The attack was one of the most successful operations in history.
It seems however American military leadership failed completely. Considering what they knew about the Japanese operations, and what they were learning from the Japanese messages, they didn’t pay enough attention to them. They were responsible for the security of the United States and for themselves. They seemed to know that war was about to break out and they didn’t use it to their advantage. Why wouldn’t they expect a surprise attack? If Japan was known for their surprise attacks fifty years before the Pearl Harbor bombing of which they were successful at what would make this one any different? A military man must always realize that the enemy will try to do what will be most surprising and most damaging to them and also their country.