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A look back at Pearl Harbor attacks 70 years ago

Seventy years ago, a Japanese air and naval assault on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii claimed 2,390 American lives and propelled the U.S. into World War II. Nearly half of those who died were sailors aboard the USS Arizona, which was sunk by Japanese torpedoes, killing 1,177. Survivors of the attack describe the day.


Believed to be the first bomb dropped on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in the sneak-attack on Dec. 7, 1941, this picture was found torn to pieces at Yokusuka Base by photographer's mate 2/C Martin J. Shemanski of Plymouth, Pa. One Japanese plane is shown pulling out of a dive near bomb eruption (center) and another the air at upper right.

Commemorations will be taking place today around the country to mark the 70th anniversary of the attack, including several memorials for servicemen who survived the attacks but whom, after their recent deaths, wanted their remains placed at Pearl Harbor. Also, a new exhibit about the attacks is opening at National World War II Museum in New Orleans. 

Keystone / Getty Images

The American destroyer USS Shaw explodes during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, home of the American Pacific Fleet during World War II.

US Navy via Time Life Pictures / Getty Images

Smoke pours from wrecked American warships including (L-R) the battleships USS West Virginia & USS Tennessee which were damaged or sunk during Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

Editor’s note, 11:45 a.m. ET, Dec. 9: We are no longer confident that the picture below was made on the day of the Pearl Harbor attack. We’re investigating, and will have a full story on Monday.

Update, Dec. 12, 2011: We've written a full story tracking down more about this photo, and one of the women in it. Please see that post, where the discussion continues.

Three Lions / Getty Images

Women firefighters direct a hose after the Japanese attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor.

Time Life Pictures / Getty Images

A sailor runs for cover past flaming wreckage hit by dive bombers that had already blasted Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field; Kaneohe Bay Naval Station.

Weegee / ICP via Getty Images

A crowd on Broadway in New York City hold up newspapers announcing the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii during World War II.

December 7 marks the 70 anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, and author Craig Shirley joins Morning Joe to discuss his new book "December 1941," which gives in-depth details of the attack.

 View archival video footage from the attacks and hear survivors describe the day, or see Pearl Harbor then and now from above in new satellite imagery.

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