This morning in Honolulu, more than 2,000 U.S. military service personnel, veterans and other observers gathered at Pearl Harbor to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the devastating Japanese sneak attack that killed thousands of people and launched the United States into World War II.
At 7:55 a.m., the exact time on the Sunday morning in 1941 when hundreds of Japanese planes began raining bombs and torpedoes onto Oahu’s U.S. military ships and planes, onlookers across from the sunken USS Arizona once again became respectfully silent.
More than 2,400 Americans were killed and nearly 1,180 injured when stealth Japanese fighters bombed and sank 12 naval vessels and heavily damaged nine others. There are few survivors left, with most in their 90′s. The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association disbanded December 2011.
The USS Arizona still lies beneath the harbor with its dead entombed. The ship sank in less than nine minutes after a 1,760-pound armor-piercing bomb penetrated its decks and exploded in the ship’s forward ammunition magazine. 1,177 sailors and marines onboard were killed; 337 crew members survived.
Other major installations on Oahu, such as Wheeler Field and Kaneohe Naval Air Station, also were attacked. LIFE’s photos of the attack can be seen here.
The Pearl Harbor Visitor’s Center features galleries, interactive exhibits, two movie theaters, an amphitheater and an education center.
USS Arizona Commander Daniel J. Condon was among the survivors of the attack. A medical doctor, he later served as the Medical Examiner for Maricopa County. His sword & belt were salvaged from the ship. His sword is on display at the Arizona State Capital, and his sword belt is displayed at the University of Arizona Museum. Dr. Condon died in 1992.