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Relive Pearl Harbor - Hour by Hour: December 7,  7:55 a.m.
Fuchikama Tadao, a Japanese-American messenger, hops on his motorcycle and races towards Pearl Harbor's military headquarters. In his satchel is a crucial message from Washington warning of a possible attack. At that same moment, Johnie Gano is in her home getting ready for Sunday morning church services. She is about to wake her husband, when the windows begin to rattle. Suddenly, "Boom!"an explosion cuts through the air. The last moments of peace the U.S. will know for the next three years, eight months, and eight days end as the first wave of Japanese planes reaches Pearl Harbor.

Battleship U.S.S. Arizona
Within seconds the Sunday morning calm is shredded by the explosions of bombs and torpedoes. Smoke and fire rise through the serene blue sky as the U.S. Navy's great battleships are bombed, one after another. Aboard the U.S.S. Oklahoma, a frantic announcement comes over the PA system: "Real planes, real bombs; this is no drill!"

Dressing quickly, the Ganos run outside their house. "Look Johnie!" exclaims Dale, spotting a squadron of fighter planes tearing through the sky, flying low and shockingly near. "That is the rising sun painted on their wings!" It is hard for them to believe that they are in the middle of this massive and unexpected attack.

By the end of the first raid, which lasts 30 minutes, much of America's Pacific fleet is in ruins. The battleship Oklahoma is blown up by three torpedoes; the West Virginia and California are struck by bombs and have sunk to the bottom. The Arizona is also hit by a bomb that goes off below deck, just a few feet from a vast stockpile of explosives. The huge explosion rips apart the ship and causes it to sink within minutes--killing most of the crew, some of whom are still in their beds.

Pearl Harbor Activity Station
The bombing of Pearl Harbor was a frightening moment for all Americans, but it was especially scary for people who were living in the area around Pearl Harbor, like Johnie and Dale.

Find out how they felt by checking the interview with our eyewitnesses. Write a journal entry as if you were Johnie or Dale, separated from one another, on the night Pearl Harbor was bombed. How do you feel? Where do you think your family members are?

Torpedo - an underwater missle that explodes when it hits a target, such as a ship.

Raid - a sudden, surprise attack on a place.

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