December 4, 2015
World War II began in Europe with the joint German and Soviet Union invasion of Poland in September 1939. But despite increasing tensions and multiple United States allies fighting against the Axis powers, the U.S. maintained a policy of non-interventionism.
In the early morning hours of Dec. 7, 1941, the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in the then-U.S. territory of Hawaii was attacked by 353 Japanese fighter planes, bombers and torpedo planes in two waves. The Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor consisted of eight battleships, eight cruisers, 30 destroyers and 54 other ships, including four submarines. The Empire of Japan attacked from the air at 7:48 a.m. local time, destroying seven battleships, three cruisers, three destroyers and 350 aircraft; killing 2,400 military personnel and wounding 1,200.
The surprise attack shocked the nation and directly led to the American entry into World War II in both Pacific and European theaters. The U.S. declared war on Japan on Dec. 8, 1941. Both Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S. on Dec. 11, and the U.S. reciprocated the same day.
Texas Tech University’s Ron Milam is an associate professor of U.S. history with a specialty in military history. In advance of the 74th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Milam is available to speak about the beginning of U.S. involvement in World War II.
Ron Milam, associate professor of history, (806) 283-2354 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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