The Japanese attacked the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, a Sunday.

At 6 a.m., a squadron of Japanese planes took off from aircraft carriers that had quietly stopped some 230 miles from the naval base.

By 7:55 a.m., the attack, of bombs and bullets, was launched on the unsuspecting Pacific Fleet.

At about 9 a.m., a second wave of planes began its attack. Specially-designed torpedoes launched from midget submarines wrought their own devastation.

Hours later, some 2,400 American service members were dead, more than a thousand others wounded.

Nineteen ships and more than 320 planes had been destroyed or damaged and eight battleships sunk.

People in the United States learned of the horrific sneak attack that launched the country into World War II as they were reading the Sunday comics, greeting each other after church services or sitting down to breakfast.

The next day, the United States declared war on Japan.