When the great explorer, Marco polo returned from China in the 1200's, he did not just bring erotic spices which Europeans had never tasted, or meet people and cultures Europeans had never met, he also brought mention of a land that no one in Europe had ever seen or heard of before. This land he called the "Land of the Rising Sun". (Castillo 65) Today this mysterious land is known as Japan.
During the mid-1940s, the United States of America was engaged in a terrible war that would destroy two Japanese cities and change modern warfare forever.

The Beginning

Although the war in Europe had been going on for sometime in 1941, the Americans felt that they didn't want to get involved in the war with Germany, thought they had sent few reinforcements to aid Great Britain, who's cities were being destroyed by German bombers. Many Americans wanted to stay out of the war at all costs. (Shapiro p.7) These individuals were called isoloationsists.
The Japanese Empire was at a constant struggle to expand itself into China, Indonesia, and into the Pacific Islands. Japan felt that the United States was threatening this expansion. America tried to remain neutral throughout the war in Europe, although at times we supported England and France. Americans had heard the horrible stories of what was going on in the war and about the extermination of millions of Jews, and some urged President Roosevelt to enter the war. Japan realized that if America entered the war, we could become a major power in defeating their expansion plans as well as defeating Germany and Italy. On December 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in a successful attempt to destroy part of our Pacific Ocean defense which hastened us in making a decision to join the war.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt declared war on


Pearl Harbor Before 7:55 a.m.

It was decided by the Japanese war leaders that Japan was to attack the United States' most strategically, important naval base, Pearl Harbor. It was at Pearl Harbor that the U. S. had its most abundant arsenal battery.
On December 14th 1941, 183 Japanese planes,consisting of mostly "Zero" type planes (nicknamed "Zero" by U.S. soldiers), took off from their hiding aircraft carriers and began the 30 minute flight to Pearl Harbor from about 220 miles north of Hawaii ( Shapiro p.55).Ironically, the Japanese's planes were detected, but were thought to be American This was the first of many American mistakes on that fateful day. As a result, the Japanese destroyed about half of the United States Naval fleet between 7:55 and 10:00 am.
The first loss of the war with Japan, was japanese.
About an hour before Japan's planes had reached Pearl Harbor, the American ship, the Ward, was under orders to attack all unidentified submarines that entered the vicinity. A submarine was detected trying to sneak into Pearl Harbor. The Ward dropped 4 depth charges and hit the sub, causing it to sink. This event was reported to the commanders, but no action was taken, because submarines were often reported around Pearl Harbor. This was the second of the mistakes made by the Americans.(Shapiro 57)
The Attack 7:55 - 10:00 a.m.

The commanding officer of the Japanese attack was Lt. Commander Mitsuo Fuchida. When the fleet was less than 20 miles away from the island of Oahu (The large hawaiian island that embodied Pearl Harbor) he gave the order to attack. A group consisting of 51 fighter planes began to attack Wheeler Field, one of the United States major war plane depot. Another group of planes attacked other major air fields, and the final group of torpedo bombers went strait for Pearl Harbor itself.
It is very fortunate that the United State's three most important aircraft carriers were not at Pearl harbor at that time, for if they had been, it is very likely that we might not have won the war. (Shapiro 59)
However, unfortunately, there were 8 battleships, 2 heavy cruisers, 6 light cruisers, 5 submarines, 29 destroyers, and 24 auxiliary ships present at Pearl Harbor.