December 7, 1941, will be forever known as ‘The Date That Will Live in Infamy’ in the United States. President Franklin Roosevelt uttered those words in response to the heinous and deliberate attack by the Empire of Japan on the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor. The surprise attack on an early Sunday morning killed 2,403 U.S. service personnel, including 50 servicemen from Illinois. The attack also injured 1,178 people, and included with the deceased were 68 civilians.
The Japanese strike force was massive and included 353 aircraft launched from four heavy carriers. The fleet included 40 torpedo planes, 103 level bombers, 131 dive-bombers, and 79 fighters. In addition, the Japanese Empire sent two heavy cruisers, 35 submarines, two light cruisers, nine oilers, two battleships, and 11 destroyers. The attacks destroyed or damaged 19 U.S. Navy ships, including eight battleships. The battleship USS Arizona remains sunken in Pearl Harbor with its crew onboard, with half of the fatalities at Pearl Harbor being crew members on that ship.
The attacks on Pearl Harbor permanently changed the lives of millions of Americans. Not only was the nation now thrust into the heart of battle in World War II, life in the country would be very different for the next few years. Most household items were being rationed, along with tires, as Japan had become the main rubber-producer of the world. Gasoline was also rationed, along with other supplies, to be sure there was enough supply for the Army and Navy. People were encouraged to stay home and be as economical and frugal as possible. The war ended in August 1945, but not before 416,800 American service members would lose their lives.
“Today will always be remembered as we honor the brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives to protect our country,” said Rep. Coffey. ” Our true patriots fought with all they had and never backed down from one of the largest attacks in American history.”
Most Americans had hoped to avoid direct involvement in World War II, which was raging in Europe since 1939. Pearl Harbor changed everything, with President Roosevelt receiving approval from all but one member of Congress in declaring war on Japan. War was also declared against Germany and Italy three days later. The United States became a full participant in the Allied cause against the Axis powers. Thirty days after the Pearl Harbor attack, 134,000 Americans enlisted in the military.
Among the servicemen from Illinois who perished at Pearl Harbor were Lt. John Dains of Mt. Olive, William Arbuckle of Marshall, Captain Thomas Kirkpatrick, a Navy Chaplain; Edward Clapp of Forsyth, brothers Jason and Bernard Conlin of Decatur, Virgil Rayhel of Walnut Prairie, and Navy Fireman First Class Robert Harr of Dallas City.
Several deceased servicemen previously unable to be identified have in recent years had their remains identified and returned home to be buried in Illinois, including Michael Glajdik of Lockport Township, U.S. Navy Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Keith Tipsword of Effingham County, Herbert Jacobson of Grayslake, and Navy Fireman 1st Class George Price of Dallas City.