Shortly before 0800 on 7 December 1941, Japanese forces launched an attack on Pearl Harbor. The intent was to undermine the ability of the U.S. Pacific Fleet to counter expansion of the Japanese empire in Southeast Asia. The attack lasted less than two hours but resulted in heavy U.S. casualties and extensive damage to the battle fleet. American dead numbered more than 2,000, with more than 1,000 military and civilian wounded. Twenty-one ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were sunk or damaged. The three U.S. Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers were away from Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack and escaped damage. The memory of Pearl Harbor inspired perseverance through the challenges of the years ahead and remains a reminder of the sacrifice of service members past and present. To learn more, please consult the links below.
Resources for Pearl Harbor remembrance events may be found in our Pearl Harbor Remembrance section.
After 76 Years: Awards for Valor at Pearl Harbor
Why Pearl Harbor?
In the video sound bite below, Naval History and Heritage Command historian Robert J. Cressman discusses Japan's strategic objective for the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Click the links below for additional sets of video sound bites to hear Cressman answer questions about other aspects of the attack. Videos may be downloaded from DVIDS.
The Navy Department Library Online Reading Room contains an overview of the Pearl Harbor attack; that page also provides most of the links given above.