USS Ford crew remembers Pearl Harbor

The USS Nevada (BB36) after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7 1941. Moving to position away from enflamed ships. Foreground salvage and rescue tugs gun crews in action. Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
The USS Nevada (BB36) after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7 1941. Moving to position away from enflamed ships. Foreground salvage and rescue tugs gun crews in action. Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

USS Ford crew remembers Pearl Harbor

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)

On Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, Sailors and civilians alike were conducting their normal daily routines, when, without warning, the sound of explosions, airplanes soaring overhead, and gunfire erupted throughout the sky.

The Empire of Japan conducted a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor which included two waves beginning at 7:53 a.m. and ending at 9:55 a.m.
During the attacks, Sailors jumped from their racks and moved with urgency to their battle stations. Pilots donned flight gear and rushed to nearby aircraft.

“While I was stationed there (Pearl Harbor), everyone still thinks about that day when you go out to all the memorials,” said Lt. Abbie Ortman, from Hillsboro, Oregon, assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) legal department. “I was promoted on the Missouri and you appreciate the sacrifices that were made when you are able to look down and see the remnants of the ship and the oil slick coming up still to this day. It’s super moving and reminds us of why we are in the Navy today.”

The Imperial Japanese attack force included six aircraft carriers and over 420 aircraft carrying air-to-surface torpedoes and bombs. The focus of the attack: to eliminate any potential American challenge to Japan’s conquest of the pacific.

“People like to say we’re always ready, but when we look back on the events of Pearl Harbor the saying resonates for those who like to read up on history or remember significant events in Naval history,” said Mass Communications Specialist 3rd class Zachary Melvin, from Pensacola, Florida, assigned to Ford’s media department. “We as a ship and a fleet will remain always ready so events like Pearl Harbor will never happen again.”

The attacks resulted in the loss of six ships, with many more damaged and unable to go to sea. 168 Navy and Army Air Corps planes were destroyed and 2,403 service members were killed with 1,178 more injured. Among the ships lost was the battleship USS Arizona (BB-39), suffering over 1,000 causalities alone.

The attack on Pearl Harbor resulted in President Franklin D. Roosevelt asking Congress to declare war on the Empire of Japan and marked the United States’ entry into World War II.

During Roosevelt’s speech the following day to petition for war, he said: “I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us. Hostilities exists. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.”

Despite the damage and causalities inflicted by the Imperial Japanese Navy, their overall goal of ‘eliminating any challenge’ from American forces failed due to American forces’ resolve, there being no U.S. aircraft carriers in port and the unsuccessful destruction of important repair facilities and fueling stations. By the end of the second wave Japanese forces had lost 29 aircraft and 129 servicemembers, resulting in their decision to cancel a third wave of attack.

Command Master Chief De’Andre Beaufort, explained why he believes it is important to remember and honor our naval history.

“Our Sailors and families should take a moment to remember those that came before them and the heroic actions they took during times like these,” said Beaufort. “It reminds all of us why we decided to take an oath, to protect and defend the country and that at a moment’s notice, any one of us may be called upon to do just that.”

Many servicemembers were awarded meritorious medals and commendations. Among the awardees was Doris ”Dorie” Miller, the Navy’s first African-American awarded the Navy Cross, for shooting down enemy aircraft before being ordered to abandon his ship, USS West Virginia (BB-48).

Earlier this year, the Navy announced that the fourth Ford-Class aircraft carrier would be named after Doris Miller to commemorate his heroism during WWII.

Today, on the 79th anniversary, the crew aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) reflects on the events that occurred in 1941 and remembers the 2,403 service members who fought and made the ultimate sacrifice on the day that will forever live in infamy.

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