Tribute to Victims of Pearl Harbor
I reported for duty to the battleship USS Oklahoma (BB-37) on Dec. 17, 1938, and served in her until that fateful day 71 years ago today, Dec. 7, 1941, a day “that will live in infamy” and the day that changed not only the course of history but the courses of so many of our lives.
The Japanese battle force departed northern Japan Nov. 26, even though talks were still going on in Washington, D.C., between the U.S. and Japanese envoys.
The battle force consisted of two battleships, six aircraft carriers (414 aircraft), three cruisers, 12 destroyers, three tankers, eight supply ships and three submarines.
Well ahead of the battle force was a group of submarines, 25-28 in number.
The first Japanese attack wave force of 183 aircraft was launched at 6:30 a.m., 230 miles north of Oahu, Dec. 7, and their targets would be airfields and battleships.
The second attack wave force of 171 aircraft was launched at 7:15 a.m., closer to Oahu, and their targets would be other ships and shipyard facilities.
The Japanese leader of the first attack wave force on Pearl Harbor fired two flares from his rocket pistol at 7:40 a.m. and 7:50 a.m. to begin the attack.
At 7:53 a.m., he shouted into his radio, “Tora! Tora! Tora!” (“Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!”), the code words which told the entire Japanese Navy that the attack had begun and they had caught the U.S. Pacific Fleet by complete surprise. The second attack wave force struck at 8:45 a.m.
Nine torpedoes had hit the USS Oklahoma. It took less than 15 minutes to capsize. Casualties were 22 officers and 407 enlisted personnel. The ship’s company was 1,379.
On this 71st Pearl Harbor anniversary, Friday, Dec. 7, 2012, I would like to pay homage and tribute in remembrance of the 2,403 casualties (2,008 Navy, 109 Marines, 218 Army, and 68 civilians) plus 1,178 wounded (710 Navy, 69 Marines, 364 Army and 35 civilians).
R.S. “Swede” Boreen
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