The memory remains alive...
On December 7, many World War II veterans and members of their family will visit and pay floral tributes at the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbour. Sixty years ago on this day, the Japanese carried out a surprise attack on the American Navy. The second World War was spreading and as a precaution, the U.S. had located their naval fleet at Oahu Island in the Pacific Ocean.
At the time of the attack, there was a Japanese delegation in the U.S. negotiating peace. From the Japanese point of view,the talks had failed. They launched the attack without any warning or declaration of war. It was a well-planned and well-rehearsed attack, in which 183 Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes from six aircraft carriers took part. While the planes attacked from the air, midget submarines attacked their targets. The U.S. navy was taken unawares. The Japanese fighters wreaked havoc on the ships berthed in the harbour.
The code word for the attack was To (meaning attack) and To Ra (meaning surprise achieved). This was the signal, which was to go out to the Japanese fleet from the lead ship.
The U.S. flagship USS (United States Ship) Pennsylvania came under heavy attack. The other U.S. ships attacked were California, Oklahoma, Maryland, Tennessee and Arizona. The USS Arizona was carrying a million pounds of gunpowder in the form of various armaments. The ship took a direct hit and instantly ignited, killing over a thousand sailors and officers in a defeaning explosion. Today, a memorial stands testimony to their deaths.
The U.S. Navy, though shocked, recovered and several sailors and officers bravely stood on the decks and aimed whatever weapons were handy, even their personal firearms, at the attacking airplanes. Two U.S. naval pilots daringly took off even while the air raid was on and claimed six Japanese fighters. The U.S. anti-aircraft also met with minimal success.
This attack brought America into the Second World War. The U.S. repair crew rebuilt most of the ships and put them into service in the war that was to last five more years.
Even after 60 years, that devastating attack on Pearl Harbour remains fresh in the minds of American and Japanese sailors and pilots who survived that fateful day.
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