It is Friday, December 5th, 1941. While the majority of the island Oahu is just beginning it’s day, Pearl Harbor has been the scene of activity since before the sun rose.
While the Harbor is always busy as the main base of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet, this morning the main activity revolves around the departure of U.S.S. Lexington (CV-2) and Task Force 12 on a mission to deliver 18 SB2U Vindicator Dive Bombers of VMSB-231 to Midway Island.
While the war in Europe and Asia has been going for more than two years, U.S. intelligence has to this point detected no sign of immediate threat to American territories or forces. However, the War Department has ordered several “force protection” moves: The two other Pacific Fleet carriers also underway. The USS Saratoga picking up her Air Group in San Diego after refit, and the USS Enterprise left for Wake Island on November 28th to deliver the aircraft of VMF-211 to the important American outpost.
Otherwise, it’s normal peacetime activity for the fleet: Battleships USS Arizona, USS Nevada, and USS Oklahoma are scheduled for night gunnery practice south of Oahu. Other sorties take place, along with maintenance and drill activities.
Meanwhile, the Six fleet carriers of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the Kido Butai have crossed the pacific completely undetected. Observing complete radio silence, the task group received a coded message from Tokyo on December 2nd: Niitaka yama nobore, ‘Climb Mount Niitaka’. This message from Admiral Isorku Yamamoto, Commanding Officer of the Navy, directs the 300 aircraft of the Kido Butai to prepare to strike their targets when in range.
In 24 hours, the peace will be torn asunder. The drums of war are thundering ever louder.