President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared December 7, 1941, the “date that will live in infamy.” For the many Pearl Harbor deaths, this statement rang true. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was the largest attack on U.S. soil in modern history. It was the attack that launched the U.S. into World War II, and every year, it is a day where we remember the crewmen who bravely gave their lives for their country.
So exactly how many Pearl Harbor deaths were there? Keep reading to learn more about the deadliest parts of the attack and the survivors who became heroes.
The Count of Pearl Harbor Deaths
Officially, it is estimated that 2,335 military personnel were killed on that terrible day. The number breaks down as such:
- 2,008 naval men
- 109 Marines
- 218 army men
Additionally, 68 civilians also lost their lives that day.
Of the 2,335 military personnel killed, 1,177 were killed on board the U.S.S. Arizona. The battleship was one of the first ships hit when the Japanese began their attack just before 8 a.m. that morning. The Arizona had just refueled the day before, so when the bombs dropped, much of the fuel aboard the ship also exploded, causing a terrible fire. Though the men onboard fought bravely to try and save the ship while rescuing survivors, the ship eventually sank. It was the only ship that sank completely that day.
Another loss of life came from the U.S.S. Oklahoma – another battleship that say in the harbor. Within the first 10 minutes of the attack, eight torpedoes hit the ship, and she began to capsize. When the ninth one hit, the ship got stuck in the mud. As a result, another 429 crewmen lost their lives.
Today, visitors can honor these brave crewmen at Pearl Harbor. The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial straddles the sunken ship. All the names of the crewmen lost on the ship are listed on the wall of the memorial. Visitors can also pay their respects to the USS Oklahoma at the Ford Island memorial.
While It is always important to remember the Pearl Harbor deaths, it is equally important to look to the bright spots – the heroes – who gave so much of themselves during the attack. Here are a few that you may not know about.
The lieutenant commander was having breakfast aboard the USS Arizona when the sirens went off at 7:55 a.m. He was knocked out by enemy fire, but when he regained consciousness, he immediately jumped back into action. Through his courageous actions, men were evacuated to safety. Fuqua was actually one of the last men on the ship before it sank. He later earned the Medal of Honor.
A cook and laundry attendant on the USS West Virginia, Miller was one of the first to his battle station when the attack began, but it was destroyed when he arrived. Instead, he used his impressive strength to carry injured men to safety. He eventually got behind one of two .50 caliber machine guns onboard and returned Japanese fire. For his efforts, he was awarded the Navy Cross – the first African American to receive such a high honor.
A pilot, Rasmussen was one of the few pilots able to climb into the cockpit of plane and return fire. Still dressed in his pajamas, he managed to take down one plane and cripple another before making a miraculous landing. For his bravery, he received the Silver Star.
For these brave men and the other who lost their lives, we say thank you.
What would you say to one of these heroes if you could meet them?