Remembering December 7, 1941, ‘A Date Which Will Live in Infamy’ (Time)

USS Arizona at height of fire following aerial bombing by Japanese Nakajima B5N "Kate" aircraft. The ship sank when its ammunition magazine caught fire, resulting in a cataclysmic explosion that destroyed half the ship and burned for two days. Of the 1,400 men aboard at the time, 223 survived. This photograph is part of a series of photographs from the U.S. Senate investigation of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 Dec. 1941, and included among the papers of Ralph Owen Brewster, held by the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives.

USS Arizona at height of fire following aerial bombing by Japanese Nakajima B5N "Kate" aircraft. The ship sank when its ammunition magazine caught fire, resulting in a cataclysmic explosion that destroyed half the ship and burned for two days. Of the 1,400 men aboard at the time, 223 survived. This photograph is part of a series of photographs from the U.S. Senate investigation of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 Dec. 1941, and included among the papers of Ralph Owen Brewster, held by the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives.

Seventy-one years ago today, December 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy,” President Roosevelt would say, planes from the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, launching the United States fully into World War II. The George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives holds several Pearl Harbor photographs as well as the  papers of U.S. Sen. Ralph Owen Brewster, of the Class of 1909, who sat on the Joint Committee to Investigate the Pearl Harbor Attack.

With thanks to Secretary of Development and College Relations and de facto College historian John Cross ’76, we pass along the names of alumni known to have been stationed at Pearl Harbor 71 years ago:

John E. French 21, Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy, was killed in action at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, on the U.S.S. Arizona. Of the 1,400 on the Arizona, 1,170 perished in the attack. French was a World War I veteran of the U.S. Navy as well.

Stanley W. Allen 39, Ensign in the U.S. Navy, was killed in action at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, on the battleship U.S.S. Oklahoma.

Philip M. Johnson 40, Lieutenant (junior grade) in the U.S. Naval Reserve, was cited for meritorious service at Pearl Harbor on the destroyer U.S.S. Henley. The Henley was one of the first ships to maneuver into position to screen American ships from torpedo and aircraft fire after the initial attack. In October 1943 in New Guinea the Henley was hit by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine, breaking Johnson’s right leg and throwing him into the water. He was rescued after 14 hours in the water. He died December 1, 2006.

Life magazine offers the slideshow, “After Pearl Harbor: Life in the Pacific and on the Home Front.”

1 comment to Remembering December 7, 1941, ‘A Date Which Will Live in Infamy’ (Time)

  • Bruce Munger '78

    What a change in life for the Class of ’42. Going from a carefree senior year on the Bowdoin campus directly into World War II. The greatest generation, for sure!

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