Image of the Air Force wings with the museum name underneath

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Day of Infamy: The Pearl Harbor Attack

At 7:55 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, 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, level bombers and torpedo planes struck airfields and naval vessels.

After a 15-minute lull, a second wave of 170 planes launched another attack at 8:40 a.m. that lasted an hour. Casualties to U.S. service personnel were 2,343 killed, 960 missing and 1,272 wounded; Japanese aircraft destroyed 151 U.S. planes on the ground and sank or damaged all eight U.S. battleships at anchor in Pearl Harbor. At a cost of only 28 airplanes shot down, the Japanese had dealt the United States a staggering blow.

On Dec. 8, the United States declared war on Japan. Germany and Italy in turn declared war on the United States on Dec. 11. The United States then declared war on those two Axis partners of Japan.

This flag flew on the USS St. Louis at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941. While in the harbor, gunners downed three torpedo planes before the ship headed out to the open sea in search of the Japanese fleet. During the following days, the USS St. Louis escorted transport ships carrying casualties to San Francisco and troops to Hawaii.

During the formal surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945, the flag flew on the USS Iowa alongside other occupation force ships. The USS Iowa remained in Tokyo Bay as part of the occupying force until later that month when it transported troops and liberated prisoners of war to the US. The flag serves as a reminder of the beginning and end of the deadliest world war ever fought. 

Click here to learn more about the museum's Pearl Harbor exhibit.

Lt. Philip Rasmussen and His P-36A
Col. Lew Sanders A-2 Jacket
Tuxedo Trousers

Click here to return to the World War II Gallery.

Find Out More
Other Resources
7 December 1941: The Air Force Story (Provided by AFHSO)
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