Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor


U.S.S. Arizona Memorial

[Photograph: U.S.S. Arizona Memorial]

One of the Hawaiian Islands’ most visited attractions is Pearl Harbor’s U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, honoring those who died in the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, an event that entered the United States into World War II. 

The attack on Pearl Harbor by 350 Japanese bombers killed 2,335 United States soldiers.  The attack also sunk or damaged eight huge American battleships along with three light cruisers, three destroyers, and four smaller ships.  In all, 21 United States ships were damaged and 347 planes were destroyed. 

1,177 men perished in the fiery sinking of the U.S.S. Arizona, which was at its moorings on Battleship Row and sunk in just nine minutes after being hit by a Japanese bomb.  2,323 United States military personnel died in the Pearl Harbor attack, along with 60 civilians.  Another 1,178 people were wounded. (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1941, Dec. 7.)

The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial is an open structure that is 184 feet (56 m) long, and positioned directly over the wreck of the U.S.S. Arizona.  Nine hundred of the U.S.S. Arizona’s crew remain entombed in the sunken vessel.  The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial Museum includes a theater that provides information about the Pearl Harbor attack. 

The architect of the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial was an Austrian named Alfred Preis who fled the Nazis in 1939 and later moved to the Hawaiian Islands.  The creation of the Memorial was approved by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958, and on Memorial Day in 1962 it was officially dedicated.  Part of the funding for the Memorial came from an Elvis Presley benefit concert at Honolulu’s Bloch Arena.  The concert raised about $64,000 toward the $500,000 cost of the shrine.

About 1.5 million visitors a year tour the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, which was designated as a National Historical Landmark in 1989.

[U.S.S. Arizona Memorial Visitor Center, 808-422-2771; 422-0561; 1 Arizona Memorial Place, Pearl Harbor, Honolulu,, open 7:30-5 daily.]


U.S.S. Missouri

[Photograph: U.S.S. Missouri]

World War II ended after the United States dropped nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima (August 6, 1945) and Nagasaki (August 9, 1945).  The imminent defeat of Japan led to a celebration of “V-J Day” (Victory in Japan Day) on August 15, 1945. 

The forces of Japan officially surrendered on September 2, 1945 on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri battleship, now known as “Mighty Mo.

Originally launched in 1944, the U.S.S. Missouri was permanently decommissioned on March 31, 1992.  Now open for public tours, the 58,000-ton (52,600-mton) ship is docked at Pearl Harbor’s Battleship Row, just a few hundred yards from the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. 

The U.S.S. Missouri had a 50-year career serving in World War II (in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa), Korea, and Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf in 1991.  On August 20, 2001, the U.S.S. Missouri welcomed its one-millionth visitor. (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1945, Aug. 14.)

[Battleship Missouri Memorial, 808-973-2494 (recording); 808-423-2263, 1 Arizona Memorial Drive, Pearl Harbor, Honolulu,, open daily 9-5.]


U.S.S. Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park

[Photograph: U.S.S. Bowfin Submarine]

The U.S.S. Bowfin submarine first launched one year after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, and is one of just 15 remaining submarines from the World War II era.  The submarine carried a crew of 80, and sank 44 ships in the Pacific Ocean. 

A Memorial within the U.S.S. Bowfin Submarine Park honors the 3,500 submariners lost during the war along with 52 United States submarines.  The Memorial pays tribute to the important role submarines played in defense of the United States.

Visitors may enter the U.S.S. Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park for free and view the Japanese suicide torpedo, called the Kaiten.  It is also free to look through the periscopes.  There is a fee for the submarine/museum tour, which includes boarding the U.S.S. Bowfin.

[U.S.S. Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, 11 Arizona Memorial Drive, Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, 808-423-1341, open daily 8-5,]