by John Hill
Stand With Arizona
Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. – President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Congress, 12/08/1941
The Dec. 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor and those who lost their lives that day are being remembered today on the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack that brought the U.S. into World War II.
About 120 survivors will join the Navy Secretary, military leaders and civilians to observe a moment of silence in Pearl Harbor at 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time — the moment the attack began seven decades ago.
About 3,000 people are expected to attend the event held each year at a site overlooking the sunken USS Arizona and the white memorial that straddles the battleship.
The Arizona was sunk during the attack. 1,177 of its 1,400 men were killed – fully half the total U.S. dead on that infamous day. May they rest in peace.
ABOUT THE ARIZONA
The Arizona was built at the Brooklyn Naval Yard in New York City, and was commissioned on October 17, 1916.
On December 7th, 1941, the Arizona’s ship’s air raid alarm went off about 07:55, and the ship went to general quarters soon thereafter. Shortly after 08:00, the ship was attacked. Japanese bombers hit in and around the ship with 4 of 7 bombs.
But it only took one hit to sink the Arizona and kill 84% of its crew. And it was no ordinary bomb – it was an I.E.D. – a converted 16″ shell used by the Japanese for its armor-piercing abilities that standard “dumb” bombs did not possess.
This IED was dropped in a level bombing attack from 9,800 feet. It pierced the forward decks between turrets and by all the worse luck hit a small magazine which held 1000 pounds of black powder used in launching the ship’s seaplanes from the catapults. This magazine was adjacent to the main forward magazine which held all the big boom stuff, when the IED and 1000 pounds of black powder exploded, the main magazine was penetrated causing a massive secondary explosion which destroyed everything below main deck forward on the ship and under it’s superstructure…and 1,177 crew.
1,177 men died on board the Arizona alone, including ADM David C. Kidd, Battleship Division 1 Commander, Commanding Officer, CAPT Franklin Van Valkenburgh, and the entire USS Arizona band, at their stations passing ammunition under Turret Gun 1.
400 Sailors were trapped inside the Arizona’s hull as she sank. Reliable sources indicate that that there was probably enough air to last the last Sailor left alive until approximately Christmas Eve of that year. The Arizona, an oil burning ship, burned for two solid days and the sunken ship is still discharging oil today, “tears” as they say in the Navy. The story goes that the tears will stop when the last survivor of the Arizona is laid to rest.
The wreck of Arizona remains at Pearl Harbor to commemorate the men of her crew lost that December morning in 1941. In 1950, the U.S. instituted the raising of colors over her remains. Congress designated the wreck as a national shrine in 1962. A memorial was built across the ship’s sunken remains, including a shrine room listing the names of the lost crew members on a marble wall. It is a sight to behold, and at which to reflect on the dreadful loss of life, and the momentous chain of events it set into motion that forever changed the course of world history.
On this day, at 10:55 Phoenix time, The Pearl Harbor-based guided missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon will render honors to the Arizona and blow its whistle at the start of a moment of silence — the same time 70 years ago the first Japanese planes began to attack.
May we never, ever forget that infamous day, nor the brave souls who perished. May they rest in peace.
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