Pearl Harbor, 75 Years Later

Today marks 75 years since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which brought this country into World War II. We were out in Hawaii two months ago and visited the Arizona memorial. All these years later, it’s still leaking oil:

Oil Slick: USS Arizona Memorial

This aircraft hangar on Ford Island, now part of the Pacific Aviation Museum, also bears the scars:

Hangar 79 Ford Island

It’s worth noting that not all the casualties of Pearl Harbor died December 7. Men were trapped for weeks on the Oklahoma, after it capsized. Inside the West Virginia, three men were stuck for 16 days inside an airtight storeroom until they expired. They knew this because they were crossing off days on a calendar.

USS Oklahoma Memorial

USS Oklahoma Memorial. There are not many veterans still alive today. The National Park Service, which administers the Arizona Memorial, has a program to return survivors to be laid to rest with their shipmates after they die. Today NPS is interring two survivors who have since died. One is a twin whose brother didn’t make it.


9 thoughts on “Pearl Harbor, 75 Years Later”

  1. Also worth noting that the Arizona isn’t the only ship sunk that day that’s still out there. The Utah is still there, too.

  2. The Arizona BB39 Weeps for the souls that were lost on that day 75 years ago. I was there a few years ago and saw 2 oil tears. It is a sobering sight once you enter the memorial and realize what you are looking at, and are standing above.

  3. I looked up the math on the Arizona’s fuel tanks. If you assume that she had a normal load of fuel oil on board (1,548 tons), and she has been leaking oil for the past 75 years at her current rate of 2.3 quarts per day (admittedly two very big assumptions), then she has lost less than 5% of the oil on board. She will almost certainly weep for longer than our country will.

    1. She’s in tropical waters. The tank will completely rot and dump the remainder in bunk before it runs out, I think.

    2. A report says the ship took on 1.2M gals the day before the attack. About 4k tons of Bunker C fuel oil, spread over ~200 tanks distributed around the ship on 4 deck levels. The ship was planning on heading back to the US for the Christmas Holidays, and was leaving Pearl Harbor the following weekend.

      The ship burned for 3 days, consuming an unknown amount. It is guesstimated that 0.5M gals remain. They were measuring over 9qts/day near 10 yrs ago hitting the surface.
      They don’t expect all of it to be released at once, however, the problem is that it is adding buoyancy and support to the wreckage. There is the possibility of a domino effect occurring when a tank ruptures. Scientists expect tanks to develop problems starting in the near future, and for this to continue for 20 years or more.

  4. Myself and my wife were there last year, it was a very moving experience.
    My Uncle Charlie was there stationed on the USS.St Louis the day of the attack. He was only 18. He told me the Zero’s flew so low over the ship that they threw paint scrapers at them. Amazing. Today his grandson was there to represent him for the 75th anniversary.

    1. Thanks for sharing your family’s experience. My paternal grandfather John Milligan, served in the European Theater. But Bitter’s grandfather served in the pacific theater. And her other grandfather served in the Burma/India theater, flying P38 reconnaissance planes over Japanese controlled territory in China. He is buried on Oahu in Punchbowl National Cemetery.

  5. I had several uncles that served. One was in the glider regiment of the 101st Airborne. Another flew in bombers, but I’m not sure which theater. Another served occupation duty in Germany right after the war, a replacement for troops sent home. I’m sure there were more on my dad’s side of the family, but I don’t remember anyone talking about it.

    Visiting Pearl is high on my list. I’ll cry like a baby even though I don’t have any relations directly involved.

  6. My local library has a display of photographs from the day. Seeing them was really sobering.

    The first thing that struck me, though, was how the explanations put everything into context. I had encountered a conspiracy theory that claimed we provoked Japan into an attack, with a memo of seven things that, if we did them, we would provoke them. I cannot remember what those seven things were, but we did do them in the course of several months.

    The context, however, was that we did them while Japan was attacking neighboring countries, including the Philippines. It occurred to me that Japan may have very well provoked into doing those seven things…

    I was also disappointed that the photo display didn’t include pictures from today, or at least from the last few years. I thus appreciate the photos you have in your blog.

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