Pearl Harbor: A 75th anniversary timeline of the 'date which will live in infamy'


Before Pearl Harbor, the United States remained the odd country out as the only nation still neutral in the global World War II conflict.

With a worsening situation in Europe, it seemed inevitable that the Axis powers would clash with the U.S. Tensions only escalated in July of 1940 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt endorsed an embargo preventing oil from being shipped to Japan. Throughout the summer of 1941, Japanese Admiral Yamamoto trains forces and finalizes planning of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Located on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Pearl Harbor was a symbol of military force that housed over 300 ships. At the time, it was considered a crucial naval base, due to its location in the Pacific Ocean.

Below is a timeline of events leading up to and throughout Dec. 7, 1941 -- what President Roosevelt referred to as "a date which will live in infamy."

See vintage photos from the attack:

Nov. 16: Submarines -- which were the first units involved in the attack -- leave Japan and head for Pearl Harbor

Nov. 26: Remaining attack forces consisting of the main body, aircraft carriers and escorts leave Japan for Hawaii

Nov. 27: Commander Husband E. Kimmel and General Walter Short receive a "war warning" from Washington relative to a Japanese attack. Pearl Harbor is listed as a possible target.

Dec. 7:

3:42 a.m.: The minesweeper Condor sends a blinker-light message to the destroyer Ward after it detects a submarine heading west.

6:45 a.m.: The Ward discovers the detected submarine and strikes it at the waterline.

7:02 a.m.: A radar station picks up the signal of approaching planes. Commander Kimmel decides to "wait for verification of the report."

7:20 a.m.: An Army lieutenant in training at Fort Shafter radar station tells them not to worry about the signals, assuming they are an incoming group of expected B-15 planes.

7:33 a.m.: U.S. code breakers crack Japan's diplomatic code. Having broken off international negotiation, General Short receives warning of the increased threat of attack. Because of a black out in communication, Gen. Short will not receive this message until about 3 p.m.

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7:40 a.m.: 49 high-altitude bombers, 51 dive-bombers, 40 torpedo planes and 43 fighters take off from Japanese carriers.

7:49 a.m.: Air-attack commander Mitsuo Fuchida orders his telegraph operator to tap out "to, to, to" which means attack. Then other taps: "to ra, to ra, to ra," meaning attack, surprise achieved.

7:55 a.m.: At the Command Center on Ford Island, Comdr. Logan C. Ramsey sees "something black" fall out of a low-flying plane, realizing it's a bomb. He then orders a telegraph operators to send out the uncoded message "AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR X THIS IS NOT DRILL" to every ship and base.

The coordinated attack commences. Dive-bombers strike Army Air Forces' Wheeler Field, north of Pearl Harbor, and Hickam Field, near Ford Island's Battleship Row. Most U.S. planes parked on the ground are destroyed.

8:10 a.m.: A high-altitude bomber hits the USS Arizona. This sets off more than a million pounds of gunpowder. 1,177 men are killed.

8:17 a.m.: Through the chaos of fire and smoke in the harbor, the Helm destroyer heads for open sea. A lookout on board spots a two-person submarine caught in a reef. Trying to escape the sinking vessel, one crewman drowns and the other becomes the U.S.'s first World War II prisoner of war.

8:39 a.m.: The destroyer Monaghan hits a submarine at top speed, dropping depth charges. The sinking submarine fires a torpedo, but does not hit anything.

8:50 a.m.: After being bombed, The Nevada grounds herself off Hospital Point.

8:54 a.m.: A second wave -- composed of 35 fighters, 78 dive-bombers and 54 high-altitude bombers attacks. Bombers hit the light cruiser Raleigh, battleship Pennsylvania and oil tanks between the destroyers Cassin and Downes.

9:30 a.m.: A bomb hits and blows the bow off the destroyer Shaw. A photo of the explosion is one of the more notable images from the day's attack The Shaw will eventually be repaired and back in commission.

10:30 a.m.: Nurses treat severely burned and wounded men. Most are simply treated with morphine, and the death toll eventually reaches 2,390.

1:00 p.m.: The Pearl Harbor strike forces cease attack.

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