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December 7, 1941
Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, heavy loss of life; U.S. fleet steams to sea
The United States fleet steamed from Pearl Harbor Sunday after a Japanese dive bomber, torpedo plane and parachute raid on the great American naval and air base, causing heavy loss of life and property damage in an unprovoked assault which precipitated a general war in the Pacific. Reportedly the sound of gunfire was heard off Oahu and gun flashes were seen.
The White House confirmed reports of heavy damage and casualties in Pearl Harbor and also announced that the navy reported to President Roosevelt an unidentified squadron of airplanes was sighted off Guam. The White House said it was unable to confirm reports of an attack on Manila. Reportedly Hawaiian officials have been expecting the attack for about a week and gave the raiders a warm reception. Attacking planes, several of which were reported shot down, clearly bore the insignia of the rising sun. Hickam field appeared to be the principal objective, but fires were also started on Ford island in the middle of the harbor.
Reportedly 50 planes attacked later and parachute troops were sighted. However, the parachutists were believed handled. The National Broadcasting Co. said 350 were killed in a direct bomb hit on Hickam field. The battleship Oklahoma, according to NBC, was also reported attacked and set afire in Pearl Harbor. Governor Joseph Poindexter of Hawaii declared a state of emergency and the islands operated under a prearranged plan.
Meanwhile, at Washington President Roosevelt conferred with the cabinet and then summoned congressional leaders. It was believed Mr. Roosevelt was preparing a message to a joint session of congress asking a declaration of war - which was expected to pass as soon as asked.
The navy established censorship immediately on all outgoing cable and radio messages. Army and navy posts throughout the nation were mobilized. Secretary of War Henry l. Stimson and Secretary of Navy Frank Knox ordered army and navy men to wear uniforms at all times.
Huge fires were raging at Pearl Harbor at 1:10 this afternoon and five navy vessels appeared to have been destroyed in the air raids. One ship had turned over on its side. Fires raging on four other warships appeared to be gaining in intensity and they had settled low in the water. The base itself apparently was extensively damaged in the raids and great clouds of smoke rose above it. Patrols were scouring the hills above Pearl Harbor for parachute troops reported to have been seen in the vicinity.
Copyright 2007 by United Press International.