I know I have posted about Pearl Harbor before, and you all have probably deduced that I work at a museum there! Anyway, I was talking to my husband and friends and realized how little people actually know about the attack beyond the Harbor.
Now, obviously the harbor was the main target by the Japanese, as it housed the U.S.’s pacific fleet, but Oahu was also riddled with army airfields – the other target of the Japanese as they were the only American aircraft within reach of Japan and it’s holdings. The main army air bases were Wheeler, towards the North Shore and adjacent to the army post – Schofield Barracks (where my husband is stationed!), the windward side of the island at Kaneohe Bay and Bellows, and South of the Harbor at Hickam.
Now, as the Japanese were attacking off the North shore, they had to pass through the two mountain ranges dividing the island; the only pass in the eastern mountain range is the Kole Kole pass, which is on Schofield Barracks. So on the morning of December 7th, 1941, the first U.S. military holdings on Oahu that were attacked was Schofield and Wheeler. My husband was telling me that now every morning as he drives onto post, all the can think about is how terrifying it must have been to be by that pass when the attacking aircraft passed though and opened up on those two posts.
Anyway, here is my list of little facts
– Because of all the airfields, two LTs (Taylor and Welch – who Ben Affleck and Josh Harttnet were loosely based upon in though movie Pearl Harbor) up on the N. Shore were able to get airborne and help counter the attack.
– Back then (and up unto the late 1990s) the only way to access the island was via ferry. So just think about the impact that had on evacuating the wounded from the island and the harbor.
– The U.S.S Utah is similarly left untouched as the Arizona. It rests on the opposite side of Ford Island, capsized, and entombing it’s sailors who were unable to escape.
– The U.S.S Enterprise was the only aircraft carrier stationed at Pearl Harbor that escaped the attack as it was out to sea – and it built quite the record for itself during its time in the Pacific during the war.
– A Japanese pilot who was trying to return to his fleet crash landing on Ni’ihau, and island off Kauai. His crash resulted in quite the conspiracy due to the large Japanese population of the islands.
I don’t want to bore you guys with too much more. But if this has piqued your interest you should look up all the different airfields of the island back then; the reactions between the Americans occupying the territory, the Japanese, and the local Hawaiians; and the military’s reaction to the destruction of their equipment and holdings. It really was an awesome event (by the true definition of the word), the genius of the Japanese military, as well as the resilience of the U.S. and its soldiers who dealt with the aftermath and used it’s devastation to fuel their determination in the war.