Pearl Harbor & USS Arizona Memorial

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Pearl Harbor & USS Arizona Memorial

Facts and Traveler Tips

When it comes to travel, even a small amount of understanding and education, creates a more meaningful and memorable experience.  Here is some basic information about what FDR called “A date that will live in infamy.”

This surprise attack conducted by the Japanese Navy was one of the key reasons the United States finally became involved militarily in WWII, both in Europe and in the Pacific.  The key intent for the Japanese attack was to keep the U.S. from getting involved in Japan’s Southeast Asia expansion plans (a.k.a.: war).  In hindsight, that didn’t work out so well for them.  Besides it was also completely unnecessary, as the United States had previously decided not to directly challenge Japan’s actions.  But the result of the Pearl Harbor attack was that it pushed U.S. public opinion from isolationism to accepting that the war was unavoidable.

Carried out by a total of 353 Japanese planes in two waves, the surprise attack completely wrecked five Navy ships including the USS Arizona. Parked wingtip to wingtip on the airfields, 188 planes were destroyed.  The U.S. defenders were caught unprepared with guns unmanned and men summoned from sleep to stations by alarms, gunfire and explosions. In the end, 2,402 Americans were killed and 1,282 wounded

Visitors to Hawaii today can visit the USS Arizona Memorial dedicated in 1962.  This national memorial marks the resting place of 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors killed on the USS Arizona that day.  The 184 foot stark-white structure spans the sunken hull of the battleship.  It features two peaks at each end connected by a sag in the center, representing American pride before the war, the depression following the attack and the post-war return of American pride and power.

USS Arizona Memorial Facts:

ο    Unaware of the encroaching Japanese, the 185-plus U.S. Navy ships, in defense of sabotage attempts, were moored in small groups throughout Pearl Harbor.
ο    Struck by an aerial bomb, the forward section of the USS Arizona ignited, causing an explosion that sank the ship in nine minutes and burned for over two days.
ο    The USS Arizona carried 1.4 million gallons of fuel on board when it sank.  Approximately two quarts per day still surfaces from the ship.  Pearl Harbor Survivors refer to the oil droplets as “black tears.”
ο    Thirty-seven sets of brothers were assigned to the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941.  
ο    The majority of the USS Arizona’s crew members went down with the ship; 337 service members survived.
ο    1,177 service members perished on the USS Arizona, the greatest loss of life on any U.S. warship in American history.

USS Arizona Memorial Traveler Tips:

ο    Arrive early, before 8:00 a.m., to beat the crowds.  Daily visitation to the memorial is approximately 4,500 people.
ο    Estimate 75 minutes to do the tour, not counting the time you wait.
ο    Waits can be one to three hours, or more at peak times.
ο    The memorial is open seven days a week 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., but is closed on Thanksgiving Day, December 25th and January 1st.
ο    If the wait is extensive a swap meet at the nearby Aloha Stadium is open every Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday, from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
ο    Admission to the memorial is free.
ο    Visitors view a 23-minute documentary on the attack prior to visiting the Memorial.
ο    Cell phones and all electronic devices must be turned off at the Memorial.
ο    Pets are not permitted at the USS Arizona Memorial. Service animals are allowed.
ο    There is a snack area in the visitor center.
ο    If you are driving to the Memorial from Waikiki or Downtown Honolulu, do not take the Pearl Harbor exit.  This exit will take you to Naval Station Pearl Harbor, not the USS Arizona Memorial.

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