NOTE: The Flag should be flown at half-staff on Pearl Harbor Day.
November 25, 1941 - A "war warning" was sent to commanders in the Pacific: Admiral Harold R. Stark, U.S. chief of naval operations, told Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, that both President Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull thought a Japanese surprise attack was a distinct possibility.
November 26, 1941 – A Japanese task force left for Pearl Harbor: Admiral Chuichi Nagumo led the Japanese First Air Fleet, an aircraft carrier strike force, toward Pearl Harbor, with the understanding that should "negotiations with the United States reach a successful conclusion, the task force will immediately put about and return to the homeland."
November 28, 1941 - The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise departed from Pearl Harbor to deliver F4F Wildcat fighters to Wake Island.
December 1, 1941 - Japanese Emperor Hirohito signed a declaration of war and War Minister Hideki Tojo rejected U.S. proposals for a Pacific settlement as fantastic and unrealistic.
December 2, 1941 - Japanese Admiral Yamamoto sent his fleet toward Pearl Harbor.
December 2, 1941 - Japanese First Air Fleet arrived at 43 N, 158 30' E, c. 3,200 miles NW of Pearl Harbor.
December 2, 1941 - Hawaii recon aircraft were ordered to search 400 miles, NW to S only.
December 2, 1941 - Roosevelt asked Japan to clarify its intents with regard to French Indochina.
December 4, 1941 - The U.S. Navy Department ordered Guam to destroy all codes and secret documents.
Dec. 6, 1941 - U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt made a final appeal to the Emperor of Japan for peace. There was no reply. Later this same day, the U.S. code-breaking service began intercepting a 14-part Japanese message and deciphered the first 13 parts, passing them on to the President and Secretary of State. The Americans believed a Japanese attack was imminent, most likely somewhere in Southeast Asia.
ALL OF THE AMERICAN EVENTS ABOVE LOOK LIKE THE ACTIONS OF A COUNTRY WAITING TO BE ATTACKED SO IT COULD ENTER THE WAR...It's just too bad we had to be hit first.
December 7, 1941 (early AM) - Pearl Harbor was not on a state on high alert. Senior commanders concluded, based on available intelligence, there was no reason to believe an attack was imminent. Aircraft were therefore left parked wingtip-to-wingtip on airfields, anti-aircraft guns were unmanned with many ammunition boxes kept locked in accordance with peacetime regulations. There were also no torpedo nets protecting the fleet anchorage. Since it was Sunday morning, many officers and crewmen were leisurely ashore.
7:55 A.M. (Hawaii time) - A Japanese force of 183 airplanes attacked U.S. military and naval facilities on Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands without warning. For 30 minutes, dive bombers, and torpedo planes struck airfields and naval vessels.
8:40 A.M. - After a 15-minute lull, a second wave of 170 planes launched another attack which lasted one hour.
Casualties to U.S. service personnel: 2,343 killed, 960 missing, and 1,272 wounded; 151 U.S. planes destroyed on the ground and all eight U.S. battleships at anchor in Pearl Harbor were either sunk or damaged. At a cost of only 28 airplanes shot down, the Japanese dealt the U.S. a staggering blow.
Escaping damage from the attack: The prime targets, the three U.S. Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers, Lexington, Enterprise and Saratoga, which were not in the port. Also escaping damage were the base fuel tanks...Coincidental??
Dec. 8, 1941 - The U.S. declared war on Japan.
Dec. 11, 1941 - Germany and Italy, bound by treaty with Japan, declared war on the U.S...The U.S. then declared war on Germany and Italy.
"A Date Which Will Live In Infamy" (Click Here to listen to FDR's address to Congress requesting a declaration of war against Japan.)
WHY DID JAPAN ATTACK THE U.S.?
The prevailing belief within the Japanese military and political establishment was eventually, with the then expected German defeat of Great Britain and Soviet Russia, the United States' non-involvement in the European war, and Japan's control of the Pacific, that the world power structure would stabilize into three major spheres of influence:
1.) The Empire of Japan would control East, Southeast, South Asia and the entire Pacific Ocean.
2.) The combined powers of Germany and Italy would control Great Britain, all of Europe, Western and central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
3.) The United States would control North and South America.
The expected result of the attack was to cripple the U. S. Pacific Fleet for a period of up to eighteen months, preventing aggressive action against imperial forces, with the fleet to later be drawn out into a final battle and destroyed. This goal eluded the Japanese as U.S. forces were acting aggressively in the South Pacific within 60 days and the fleet was fully effective within a year. There was never the kind of massive fleet battle that the Japanese hoped for, and the only one which even closely resembled such a battle resulted in a crushing Japanese loss at the Battle of Midway.
The attack was almost a complete tactical success. By a matter of chance, of the three Pacific Fleet carriers which would normally have been at Pearl that morning, two were at sea on exercises and one was on the U.S. west coast undergoing maintenance. Not knowing the location of these ships, which could have attacked his strike force, caused the Japanese tactical commander (Admiral Nagumo) to withdraw before a planned third strike, sparing the Pacific Fleet submarine force, important maintenance facilities and critical American fuel supplies.
The survival of the repair shops enabled rapid restoration of the fighting capability of the fleet. The carriers, which enabled the first blow to be struck against the Japanese homeland in the Doolittle Raid, proved to be decisive in the Battle of the Coral Sea, where the Japanese forces were turned back in their thrust toward Australia, and proved essential to U.S. success in the Battle of Midway Island, where naval aviation forces from U.S. carriers sank four Imperial carriers.
The attack against Hawaii was in fact the worst possible thing Japan could have done, given its goal of hegemony in the western Pacific. The war plans of the U.S. had written off the defensibility of the Philippines and projected, baring any direct attack against the Philippines or U.S. possessions, a strictly defensive posture against Japan, with the principle effort being directed to the protection of the western hemisphere (particularly the Caribbean and South America) against Germany and a strictly defensive posture in the Pacific to protect Alaska, Hawaii, and the Panama Canal.
The short-term goal of the Japanese was to obtain the oil supplies, rubber, and other strategic materials from the East Indian possessions of the Netherlands, Great Britain, and France. Given the isolationist temperament of the U.S. Congress at the time, it is questionable, even doubtful, the United States would have responded directly to the seizure of those foreign possessions.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was a terrible event in American history, but should also be seen as the 'Beginning of the end of WWII.'
The entry of the United States into WWII was inevitable, and should have occurred in 1939, not the end of 1941...This two year period cost the U.S. much, but cost humanity even more, which is something we must always keep in mind.
As far as the tactical victory the Japanese produced at Pearl Harbor: Congratulations. It was a stunning victory, but it was a Pyrrhic victory they were able to enjoy for only a short period of time.
"War is all Hell," and Americans hate it for just that reason...That said, the rest of the world should always keep in mind the American people may be lax, but they are not to be abused. The Japanese brought War to the U.S. The eventual reality was the U.S. brought Hell to the Japanese.
Information for this post was adopted and adapted from many sources. Primarily:
Pearl Harbor Day Page
Naval Historical Center Library of Congress
Pearl Harbor Remembered