7 Facts on Pearl Harbor’s 70th Anniversary

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Today is the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. Below are 7 facts of the fateful day that drew us into World War II.

1.  More than 2,400 Americans died in the Pearl Harbor attack.

2.  The first reported casualty in Pearl Harbor was Ensign Manuel Gonzalez, a Navy pilot from the USS Enterprise. He was last heard on the radio yelling, “Stop shooting! That’s an American plane!”

3. Electrician’s Mate 3rd class Rudolph Martinez of San Diego is considered the first Mexican-American to die in WWII. Martinez went down with his ship, the USS Utah, which sank within a few minutes of being struck by two torpedoes. His body is entombed within the USS Utah along with six officers and 52 other men who died on that ship. His family was given a Purple Heart in honor of his sacrifice.

4.  Only days prior to the attack, scouting planes returning to Pearl Harbor spotted suspicious ships. However, since they were on a secret mission and radio communication was prohibited, the sightings were not broadcast until Ensign Gonzalez’s deadly encounter.

5. The casualties included 68 civilians, most of them killed by friendly fire. There were 1,178 military and civilians wounded.

6. The chief historian for the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Hawaii is Latino. Daniel Martinez keeps alive the memory of the Arizona’s crew members who died in the attack. “The Arizona Memorial is a very special place. For those of us who work there every day is December 7th, 1941,” he said. “[Y]ears later, oil from the Arizona still bubbles to the surface in a silent tribute to the brave men who lost their lives.”

7. Doris Miller was the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross after his courageous mission on board the West Virginia. On Dec. 7, Miller carried wounded men to safety, aided the ship’s mortally wounded captain and gunned down enemy fighters until he was ordered to abandon ship.

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