As dawn was breaking over Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941 breakfast was being served and the officers of the US Pacific Fleet were preparing for another routine day.
No one expected that within just 90 minutes, 350 Japanese planes would darken the skies in a deadly surprise attack that would kill about 3,700 Americans including 68 civilians.
These are the heartbreaking facts of the rise of American heroes and the fall of their brothers in arms:
1. Twenty-three sets of brothers died aboard USS Arizona.
Thirty-seven pairs or trios of brothers were assigned to the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941. By the end of the day, 23 sets of brothers were killed in action. Only one full set of brothers, Kenneth and Russell Warriner survived the attack.
Father-son pair, Thomas Augusta Free and his son William Thomas Free were killed in action.
2. USS Arizona's entire band perished
The naval battleship USS Arizona was hit four times by Japanese bombers and eventually sank. Among the men who lost their lives were 21 members of the Arizona's band: U.S. Navy Band Unit (NBU) 22. When the bombing started, they were almost all on deck preparing to play music for the daily flag raising.
Tragically, it is the only time in American history when an entire military band died in action.
3. Fuel from the USS Arizona's wreckage is still leaking into the harbor
The day before the attack, the naval ship had filled up with nearly 1.5 million gallons of fuel. It was scheduled to make a trip to the mainland later that month.
Many of the explosions and fires on the ship that started during the Japanese raid were fed by the fuel as it leaked out during the attack. Arizona continues to spill up to 9 quarts of oil into the harbor each day.
National Park Service4. Some survivors have chosen USS Arizona as their final resting place
Since 1982, the U.S. Navy has allowed survivors to be interred in the ship's wreckage after they die. Each veteran is given a full military funeral at the Arizona memorial and then their cremated remains are placed in an urn which is deposited by divers beneath one of the ship's gun turrets.
So far 39 crew members have been interred into the hull. A combined 37 Navy sailors and 2 Marines have chosen to rejoin their fallen shipmates.
5. Elvis Presley had a hand in building the memorial
The funds to build the memorial came from public sector and private donors. After serving two years in the U.S. Army, Elvis Presley performed a benefit concert at Pearl Harbor that raised over $50,000 for the memorial. The monument was officially dedicated on May 30, 1962.
6. Samuel Fuqua - Medal of Honor
One moment, Samuel Fuqua was a 42-year-old lieutenant commander eating his breakfast aboard the USS Arizona, and the next he was the ship's senior surviving officer.
The ship's air raid sirens sounded and he rushed to the ship's quarterdeck narrowly escaping enemy fire, only to be knocked out when a bomb dropped just feet away from where he stood.
When he regained consciousness, Fuqua jumped into action: directing the survivors to safety. Then, he and two fellow officers, commandeered a boat to pick up survivors from the fire-lit waters.
7. Peter Tomich - Medal of Honor
Chief Watertender Peter Tomich ordered his crew to abandon ship after the USS Utah was hit by two torpedo strikes from Japanese aircraft. After his men had escaped their engineering spaces, the Austro-Hungarian immigrant single-handedly secured the boilers, preventing an explosion that saved many lives.
Sadly, the 48-year-old died just minutes later as the USS Utah rolled-over and sank.
8. George Welch and Kenneth Taylor - Distinguished Service Cross, Purple Heart
These two high-flying friends leapt into action on the morning of December 7. After being awakened by the sound of exploding bombs and gunfire, the duo sped to Haleiwa airfield and hopped into their P-40 fighters.
They battled against hundreds of enemy planes, only landing once to refuel before shooting off into the sky in defense of their country and brothers and arms down below. They managed to shoot down six fighters and bombers by the time fighting ended.
Both men were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Taylor was given the Purple Heart for the shrapnel wound he received when his plane was hit by machine gun fire.
9. Doris Miller - Navy Cross
This brave soldier's skin color meant that he was relegated to the roles of cook and laundry attendant aboard the USS West Virginia, but when all hell broke loose, he proved himself to be one of the most vital crewmembers on board.
First, he rushed to the quarterdeck to lift and carry the injured men - he carried the ship's mortally wounded skipper to safety. He passed ammunition to the crews of two .50 caliber machine guns, then found himself standing behind the trigger.
He valiantly blasted away at the Japanese planes for 15 solid minutes before being ordered to abandon ship. He would become the first ever African american to be awarded the Navy Cross.
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