It was 74 years ago when Japanese fighter planes launched bombing runs at the U.S. base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. It remains to be one of the deadliest attacks in U.S. history, killing as much as 2,400 people and wounding 1,000 more.
Today, the heroic efforts of men and women who fought and died that fateful day is honored during Pearl Harbor’s 74th anniversary ceremony held at the U.S. Navy and National Park Service. And as people take time to honor the fallen, here are some interesting facts about Pearl Harbor you might not be aware of.
Fact 1: A father and son had fought and died together in Pearl Harbor.
Thomas Augusta Free was aboard the battleship USS Arizona along with son William Thomas Free during the Pearl Harbor attack. They were killed when the said battleship was bombed. At the time of their deaths, Thomas was 50 and William was only 17. Both soldiers’ names can be found on the USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Fact 2: Only one set of brothers survived the attack on USS Arizona, 23 had died.
Brothers Kenneth and Russel Warriner were the only pair of brothers who had managed to survive the deadly attack on the USS Arizona. According to a report, Kenneth had been away on flight school that day while Russell managed to survive his injuries. There were 37 sets of brothers assigned to the said battleship. On the day of the Pearl Harbor attack, there were 77 siblings aboard the USS Arizona, 62 of which were killed.
After Pearl Harbor, U.S. officials tried to discourage family members from serving on the same ship. However, official regulations regarding this were never established. In fact, five brothers had died the following year when their light cruiser, USS Juneau, was sunk in the Battle of Guadalcanal. The Sullivan brothers had enlisted after learning that their friend Bill Ball died while serving at the USS Arizona. The said brothers had specifically requested to serve on the same ship.
Fact 3: During the 2013 government shutdown, service members and their families looked after the Arizona Memorial on their own.
The Arizona Memorial serves as a final resting place for over 1,000 sailors and marines that have been killed during the Pearl Harbor attack. It is a place so sacred and special that Army medic Josh Stone decided to care for it himself if the government wasn’t going to.
Asking for much needed help, he posted a call for volunteers on Facebook one Sunday night. The next morning, several dozens of service members along with military spouses and children showed up with lawn mowers, rakes and trimmers.
Fact 4: One of the remaining Pearl Harbor survivors is not just a hero, but also a poet.
Adolph Kuhn is a first-generation German American who was born on September 5, 1921, He had joined the U.S. Navy on May 26, 1940 and arrived at the Pearl Harbor aboard the USS Boise on January 1941 to serve as a Navy aviation chief. On the day of the attack, Kuhn woke up to a rain of bullets hitting the roof of their bedroom.
When he heard an announcement over the megaphone for rescue volunteers, Kuhn soon found himself aboard the stricken USS Arizona. However, he soon realized that his efforts would be fruitless since most of the men are trapped and others were burned badly.
Later on, Kuhn detailed his accounts of the deadly Pearl Harbor attack on his memoir and poetry book “Pearl Harbor Poems.” All the proceeds for the said book were donated to the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. Meanwhile, Kuhn continues to write an entry on his diary every day. He started doing this back in 1939 and he says he is yet to miss an entry.
Fact 5: Some former crew members have said the USS Arizona will become their final resting place.
Since 1982, the U.S. Navy had allowed survivors of the USS Arizona to choose the ship’s wreckage as their final resting place upon their death. After a full military funeral at the Arizona Memorial, the remains will be cremated and placed into an urn before being deposited in the USS Arizona wreckage by divers.