Compelling stories of World War II in the Pacific Theater still captivate history buffs and casual viewers. Iwo Jima, Midway and Pearl Harbor produced indelible images during key turning points in the war. But what of lesser-known details surrounding the combat? Here we present seven surprising facts about Pearl Harbor and the Pacific.
Arizona could leak oil for at least 600 more years. According to the
National Park Service, the ship still contains an estimated 500,000
gallons of Bunker-C fuel within its hull, compared to 1.5 million
gallons when Japanese fighters hit it. Currently, the ship leaks 2 to 9
quarts each day.
The USS Oklahoma sank—twice. The first time was
during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The Park Service recounts
that after the ship was raised in 1943, a California scrap company
bought it in 1947. But while it was towed to Oakland, Calif., the
Oklahoma sank for good about 540 miles northeast of the Hawaiian
There were two flag raisings at Iwo Jima. The Feb. 23, 1945
raising captured by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal is known
worldwide. But the Navy Department Library recounts that three hours
earlier, Marine Corps Sgt. Lou Lowery photographed the first flag
raising. The enemy hurled a grenade and Lowery hurled his body over a
crater's edge. He survived after tumbling 50 feet.
invented Navajo Code talking. World War I veteran Philip Johnston, the
son of a missionary to Navajos, was one of the few non-Navajos who spoke
the language. The Naval History & Heritage Command says Johnston
suggested Navajo for Pacific operations because it had no alphabet or
symbols, and was spoken only on Navajo lands.
The Battle of
Midway was connected to Pearl Harbor. In defending Midway, U.S. forces
sank all four Japanese carriers that attacked Pearl Harbor, according to
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. More than 200 of Japan’s most
experienced pilots and several thousand sailors perished. The pivotal
battle scene is today a wildlife refuge.
The Zero had a top speed
of about 332 m.p.h. By comparison, American P40s used in the Pacific
could reach up to 355 m.p.h. but their weight limited them to combat
below 16,000 feet. Zeros could climb as high as 25,000 ft. and reach
higher speeds by diving, says the Pacific Aviation Museum.
USS Bullhead was the last ship lost… and never found. The Bullhead was
the last U.S. Navy ship sunk by the enemy, lost off the coast of Bali,
according to the U.S. Naval Institute. The ship was never recovered, and
the event happened on Aug. 6, 1945—the same day the first atomic bomb