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Wednesday 7 December 2016
On this date in . . .
1926 Gas refrigerator patented
1945 Microwave oven patented
Dates in American Military History: 7 December
from the website: thisdayinusmilhist.wordpress.com/about/
1805 – Having spied the Pacific Ocean for the first time a few weeks earlier, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark cross to the south shore of the Columbia River (near modern-day Portland) and begin building the small fort that would be their winter home. Lewis, Clark, and their men deserved a rest. During the past year, they had made the difficult trip from the upper Missouri River across the rugged Rockies, and down the Columbia River to the ocean. Though they planned to return home by retracing their steps in the spring, the Corps of Discovery settled in the relatively mild climate of the Pacific Coast while winter raged in the mountain highlands. For their fort, Lewis and Clark picked a site three miles up Netul Creek (now Lewis and Clark River), because it had a ready supply of elk and deer and convenient access to the ocean, which the men used to make salt. The men finished building a small log fortress by Christmas Eve; they named their new home Fort Clatsop, in honor of the local Indian tribe. During the three months they spent at Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark reworked their journals and began preparing the scientific information they had gathered. Clark labored long hours drawing meticulous maps that proved to be among the most valuable fruits of the expedition. After talking with local Indians, the two men determined that they had taken an unnecessarily difficult path through the Rockies, and planned alternate routes for the return journey. Meanwhile, the enlisted men and fellow travelers hunted and trapped-they killed and ate more than 100 elk and 20 deer during their stay. While the stay at Fort Clatsop was peaceful, it was not entirely pleasant. The Clatsop Indian tribe was friendly, but Clark noted that the Indians were hard bargainers, which caused the expedition party to rapidly deplete its supply of gifts and trading goods, and eventually caused some resentment on both sides. Most vexing, though, was the damp coastal weather–rain fell all but twelve days of the expedition’s three-month stay. The men found it impossible to keep dry, and their damp furs and hides rotted and became infested with vermin. Nearly everyone suffered from persistent colds and rheumatism. The expedition departed for home from soggy Fort Clatsop on March 23, 1806. The region they explored later became the state of Oregon–Lewis and Clark’s journey strengthened the American claim to the northwest and blazed a trail that was followed by thousands of trappers and settlers.
1941– At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings appears out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes followed, descending on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious assault. The surprise attack struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet and drew the United States irrevocably into World War II. With diplomatic negotiations with Japan breaking down, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his advisers knew that an imminent Japanese attack was probable, but nothing had been done to increase security at the important naval base at Pearl Harbor. It was Sunday morning, and many military personnel had been given passes to attend religious services off base. At 7:02 a.m., two radio operators spotted large groups of aircraft in flight toward the island from the north, but, with a flight of B-17s expected from the United States at the time, they were told to sound no alarm. Thus, the Japanese air assault came as a devastating surprise to the naval base.Much of the Pacific fleet was rendered useless: Five of eight battleships, three destroyers, and seven other ships were sunk or severely damaged, and more than 200 aircraft were destroyed. A total of 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,200 were wounded, many while valiantly attempting to repulse the attack. Japan’s losses were some 30 planes, five midget submarines, and fewer than 100 men. Fortunately for the United States, all three Pacific fleet carriers were out at sea on training maneuvers. These giant aircraft carriers would have their revenge against Japan six months later at the Battle of Midway, reversing the tide against the previously invincible Japanese navy in a spectacular victory. US Coast Guard patrol boat Tiger conducted anti-submarine sweeps outside of Pearl Harbor and another patrol boat Taney opened fire on Japanese aircraft that appeared over Honolulu Harbor during the attack. The Americans lose 188 aircraft; the Japanese 29. Admiral Nagumo, despite the task forces’s capacity and against advice, does not send a third wave against the base. The three American aircraft carriers serving in the Pacific are not in port and escape unharmed as does much of the infrastructure of the port, including the oil storage tanks. However, the attack leaves the Allies with only the three US carriers and two British battleships as active capital ships in the theater. The cruisers destroyers and submarines available from the Dutch and Free French reduce the numerical inferiority against the Japanese navy, however, the Allied craft are widely dispersed and under multiple commands. The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, President Roosevelt appeared before a joint session of Congress and declared, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941–a date which will live in infamy–the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” After a brief and forceful speech, he asked Congress to approve a resolution recognizing the state of war between the United States and Japan. The Senate voted for war against Japan by 82 to 0, and the House of Representatives approved the resolution by a vote of 388 to 1. The sole dissenter was Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana, a devout pacifist who had also cast a dissenting vote against the U.S. entrance into World War I. Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war against the United States, and the U.S. government responded in kind. The American contribution to the successful Allied war effort spanned four long years and cost more than 400,000 American lives.