Sunday, November 30, 2014

7 Things You Didn't Know About ... Pearl Harbor and the War in the Pacific Theater

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.

The USS 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 Islands.
Compelling stories of World War II in the Pacific Theater still captivate history buffs and casual viewers. Iwo Jima, Midway and Pearl Harbor

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.

A non-Navajo 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.

The 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 hit Hiroshima.