Heroes of Pearl Harbor

Posted December 7, 2016 by Amanda | No Comment

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy struck the U.S. navel base at Pearl Harbor in a surprise military attack. The attack lasted a couple of hours and left more than 1,000 wounded and 2,400 people dead.

Heroes of Pearl Harbor

Image: U.S. Navy

The attack was intended as a preventative action to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from interfering with the planned military actions of the Empire of Japan. Instead, the surprise assault led directly to the United States’ entry into World War II.

The attack came as a shock to the American people and galvanized the nation into action. In his speech to Congress the following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called December 7 “a date which will live in infamy” and urged Congress to formally declare war on Japan.

In honor of the 75th anniversary, here are a few heroic stories from that infamous day at Pearl Harbor:

Doris Miller

Heroes of Pearl Harbor

Image: U.S. Navy

When the attack began on the morning of December 7, Doris “Dorie” Miller immediately reported to his battle station on the battleship West Virginia. During the assault, Miller headed to the deck to man a .50 caliber anti-aircraft machine gun. Although he was not trained to operate the weapon, Miller managed to shoot down three to four enemy aircrafts. He continued to fire until he ran out of ammunition. Before abandoning ship, Miller also helped move injured sailors through oil and water to the quarterdeck, thus saving the lives of many others. His heroic actions earned him the Navy Cross, becoming the first African American to be awarded the honor.

Peter Tomich

Heroes of Pearl Harbor

Image: U.S. Navy

Peter Tomich was a chief watertender on board the training ship USS Utah. On the morning of the attack, Tomich was on duty in a boiler room when a torpedo hit the ship. As the ship began to flood, Tomich ordered his crew to abandon ship. He remained below and secured the boilers to ensure they would not explode. Minutes later, Tomich went down with the ship. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his lifesaving actions. However, the Navy was unable to locate Tomich’s family and his award went unclaimed for 65 years until it was finally presented to his family in Croatia.

Francis C. Flaherty

Heroes of Pearl Harbor

Image: U.S. Navy

Ensign Francis C. Flaherty was serving on board the USS Oklahoma at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Almost immediately after the first bombs fell, the ship was hit by three torpedoes and began to capsize. As the men abandoned ship, Flaherty remained on one of the ship’s turrets holding a flashlight so that the remaining turret crew could escape. When the ship completely rolled over, Flaherty became trapped inside the hull. He was among the 429 men that were entombed in the Oklahoma. Flaherty was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his sacrifice.

For more, check out the Battle of Pearl Harbor project on Geni:

Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Social Media Coordinator at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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