It was called “a date which will live in infamy” by President Franklin Roosevelt.
On Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese planes attacked the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, killing 2,403 service members and civilians, according to the National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day website.
An additional 1,178 people were injured in the attack, which destroyed U.S. Navy battleships including the USS Arizona and USS Utah, and capsized the USS Oklahoma. The air strike also destroyed 188 aircraft and left a path of carnage in its wake.
Seaman 1st Class Carl Malvin Carson had this harrowing account of the attack on the USS Arizona official website.
“The ship was a total loss and the commander said we should abandon ship. But before I did, I ran into a friend of mine. He was crying and asking me for help. I looked at him in horror. And the skin on his face and his arms and everything was just hanging like, like a mask or something. And I took hold of his arm. Skin all came off in my hand. And there, there was just nothing in this world I could do for that boy. And that has bothered me all my life. But he died. He did die later.”
Today marks the 77th anniversary of the attack.
The Japanese used dive bombers, fighter bombers and torpedo planes to inflict the brunt of the damage. The attack took the country by surprise and catapulted the United States into World War II. President Roosevelt declared war on Japan the next day.
Within days, Japan’s allies, Germany and Italy, known collectively as the Axis powers, declared war on the United States.