Second attack on Pearl Harbor remembered

Published On: Mar 04 2014 09:43:11 PM HST   Updated On: Mar 05 2014 12:03:00 AM HST

March 4 marks the anniversary of the second Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Click here to watch Paul Drewes' story.

The attack in 1942 wasn't anything like December 7, 1941. In fact, it wasn't even close. A few bombs wound up falling miles away on Tantalus, not far from Roosevelt High School.

Unlike the massive morning attack on Pearl Harbor, which was witnesses by thousands, the second strike was a very stealthy attack.

"It was the most ingenious and bold long range bombing program of World War II," said US National Park Service historian Daniel Martinez.

Japanese flying boats were part of "Operation K" as it was called. Two flew across the pacific, refueled in the northwest Hawaiian islands by submarine, then arrived over Oahu in the middle of the night.

"About 2 in the morning I was rudely awoken by four bomb blasts," said former Tantalus resident Alan Lloyd.

While the intended target was a damaged but still working Pearl Harbor, one of the pilots came over the Koolau mountains and mistakenly dropped his bombs over Tantalus.

The blasts from the 550 pound bombs, shattered some windows on nearby homes, leveled trees and left 20-30 foot craters in the forest.

Lloyd, who was twelve at the time of the attack, hiked up the hillside above his home the next day to see the craters. Upon seeing the impact of one of the blasts about 100 yards from Tantalus Road, he realized residents were saved by a stroke of luck.

"If the pilot had delayed his bomb release by ten seconds, it could have hit our house -- it was that close," said Lloyd.

The four bombs that landed on Oahu only did some minor damage to a few homes, and rattled more than a few nerves but historians said it made a major impact on U.S. strategy during the war.

"The Navy and Army had to figure out: how did these guys pull it off. The only place they could refuel was French Frigate Shoals and so immediately, U.S. Navy ships sat on the area," said Martinez.

That blockade after the second attack on Pearl Harbor stopped Japanese forces from refueling long-range patrol planes, so they didn't have eyes in the sky for the battle of Midway which took place months later. Midway turned out to be a decisive victory for the United States.

The craters on Tantalus have long since been covered with bushes and plants, while the little known attack has remained hidden in the footnotes of history.

"Very few people were aware of this, unless they heard it. It wasn't in the papers cause it was a military secret," stated Lloyd.

That was not the last time Japanese airplanes flew over Hawaii during the war. According to historians, the Japanese continued to launch small reconnaissance aircraft from submarines years after the attack.


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