Pearl Harbor

USS Arizona

From Life:

President Franklin Roosevelt declared December 7, 1941 — when Japan launched more than 350 fighters, bombers, and torpedo planes against the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii — a “date which will live in infamy.” In fact, that Sunday morning more than 70 years ago is so seared into America’s memory that the tumult of the critical weeks and months afterward, as the U.S. responded to the attack, is often overlooked. Here, on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, LIFE.com presents photos — most of which never ran in LIFE magazine — from Hawaii and the mainland, chronicling a nation’s resolute reply to an unprecedented act of war.

Japan’s early morning attack on Pearl Harbor, on the island of Oahu, lasted less than two hours, but took an incredible toll: four battleships sunk, 188 air crafts destroyed, and 2,403 Americans killed. For its part, Japan lost 64 men and 29 planes.

At the time of the attack, there were roughly 50,000 troops based at Pearl Harbor. Afterwards the number of soldiers spiked, as there were several hundred thousand of them stationed in Hawaii by 1945. (The number dropped to less than 70,000 by 1946.) “Out of the Pacific skies last week,” LIFE magazine wrote in its December 15, 1941 issue, “World War II came with startling suddenness to America … With reckless daring Japan aimed this blow at the citadel of American power in the Pacific.”

Read more: http://life.time.com/history/pearl-harbor-photos-from-the-pacific-and-the-home-front-1941-1942/#ixzz2ESZQIT2U