69 years ago today

Pearl Harbor. One of those names that immediately evokes a whole pallet of images and feelings. None of them very pretty, in spite of the pretty name. These photos arrived in an email a few weeks ago. I thought today was the right day to share them with you.

According to the person who forwarded these photos, they were taken by a sailor on the USS Quapaw ATF-110, using a Brownie camera that was stored in a foot locker and discovered recently. [This story appears to be an internet myth, but the photos–no matter what camera used, no matter who took them–are still extraordinary.]

In case you’ve forgotten, this is what an old Brownie looked like:

You’ll find more about the events of December 7, 1941 at the end of the series of photographs.

Pearl  Harbor (also check here for more information)

On  Sunday, December 7th, 1941 the Japanese launched  a surprise attack against the U.S. Forces  stationed at Pearl Harbor , Hawaii By planning  this attack on a Sunday, the Japanese commander  Admiral Nagumo, hoped to catch the entire fleet  in port. As luck would have it, the Aircraft  Carriers and one of the Battleships were not in  port. (The USS Enterprise was returning from  Wake Island , where it had just delivered some  aircraft. The USS Lexington was ferrying  aircraft to Midway, and the USS Saratoga and USS Colorado were undergoing repairs in the United  States .)

In  spite of the latest intelligence reports about  the missing aircraft carriers (his most  important targets), Admiral Nagumo decided to continue the attack with his force of six carriers and 423 aircraft. At a range of 230  miles north of Oahu , he launched the first wave of a two-wave attack. Beginning at 0600 hours  his first wave consisted of 183 fighters and  torpedo bombers which struck at the fleet in  Pearl Harbor and the airfields in Hickam,  Kaneohe and Ewa. The second strike, launched at  0715 hours, consisted of 167 aircraft, which again struck at the same targets.

At  0753 hours the first wave consisting of 40 Nakajima B5N2 ‘Kate’ torpedo bombers, 51 Aichi  D3A1 ‘Val’ dive bombers, 50 high altitude  bombers and 43 Zeros struck airfields and Pearl  Harbor Within the next hour, the second wave arrived and continued the attack.

When  it was over, the U.S. Losses were:


US  Army: 218 KIA, 364 WIA.

US  Navy: 2,008 KIA, 710 WIA..

US  MarineCorp: 109 KIA, 69 WIA.

Civilians:  68 KIA, 35 WIA.

TOTAL:  2,403 KIA, 1,178 WIA.



USS  Arizona (BB-39) – total loss when a bomb hit her  magazine.

USS  Oklahoma (BB-37) – Total loss when she capsized  and sunk in the harbor.

USS  California (BB-4 4) – Sunk at her berth. Later  raised and repaired.

USS  West Virginia (BB-48) – Sunk at her berth. Later  raised and repaired.

USS  Nevada – (BB-36) Beached to prevent sinking..  Later repaired.

USS  Pennsylvania (BB-38) – Light damage.

USS  Maryland (BB-46) – Light damage.

USS  Tennessee (BB-43) Light damage.

USS  Utah (AG-16) – (former battleship used as a  target) – Sunk.



USS  New Orleans (CA-32) – Light Damage..

USS  San Francisco (CA-38) – Light Damage.

USS  Detroit (CL-8) – Light Damage.

USS  Raleigh (CL-7) – Heavily damaged but repaired.

USS  Helena (CL-50) – Light Damage.

USS  Honolulu (CL-48) – Light Damage…

————————–  — —————————-  —————————————————————


USS  Downes (DD-375) – Destroyed. Parts salvaged.

USS  Cassin – (DD -3 7 2) Destroyed. Parts salvaged.

USS  Shaw (DD-373) – Very heavy damage.

USS  Helm (DD-388) – Light Damage.



USS  Ogala (CM-4) – Sunk but later raised and  repaired.


Seaplane  Tender

USS  Curtiss (AV-4) – Severely damaged but later  repaired.


Repair  Ship

USS  Vestal (AR-4) – Severely damaged but later  repaired.


Harbor  Tug

USS  Sotoyomo (YT-9) – Sunk but later raised and  repaired.



188  Aircraft destroyed (92 USN and 92 U.S. Army Air  Corps.)


3 Comments on “69 years ago today”

  1. Pete Klein says:

    Never forget.
    Thanks for the photos.

  2. Lucy Martin says:

    I’m away – seeing family, in Hawaii, as it happens.

    Flying in on Dec 4th, pilot of our commercial flight made a point of mentioning the Pearl Harbor attack and acknowledging the two survivors on board our flight. (Passengers applauded.)

    On Tuesday, December 7th itself, at the 69th anniversary observance, a new visitor’s center was dedicated. (Built at a cost of just over $63 million. The old one basically got visited to death.)

    More details here (my apologies, but I don’t know how to embed the ULR nice & neatly when posting as a commenter):



    That event was logistically challenging (much demand, limited space) so I didn’t even try to attend. Instead I was visiting old friends, hearing about what they experienced attending Monday’s inauguration of Hawaii’s new Governor, Neil Abercrombie. And the (huge) Honolulu Marathon takes place this Sunday — a busy week in that city.

    But I’m now on Maui and I digress.

    My point, and I do have one, is the account of the Dec 7th photos recently found on a Brownie camera long stored in a foot locker…well, that’s been circulating for a while now. It appears to be one of those internet myths.


    It was a terrible & historic event, not to take anything away from that fact. And the photos are real enough. But the ‘taken by one guy’ part doesn’t seem to hold up.

    If there is comfort to be found in the passage of time, one could look at the strong alliance that now exists between the U.S. and Japan, despite the intensity of what each side experienced in WW II.

    Lastly, I have to share that local residents here are grumbling about how cold the overnight lows are. (In the upper 60’s, Oh my, grab the extra blankets!)

    I find it quite comfortable. Sigh! After eleven years away I must be becoming ‘mainland-ized’.

  3. Ellen Rocco says:

    Thanks, Lucy. Actually I was hoping someone (like you) would de-bunk the Brownie camera story. I had a feeling it might not be quite accurate. But, yes, I agree, the photos are still quite extraordinary. We do forget so easily. These days, history is anything that happened last week.

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