By Kodee Summers
On December 7, 1941, just before 8 a.m, Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor, a Naval Base near Honolulu, Hawaii. They destroyed or damaged nearly 20 American naval vessels, eight battleships, and over 300 airplanes. More than 2,400 Americans died and pver 1,000 people were wounded, including civilians. The attack came to a surprise to the Americans, even though they knew Japan would attack due to rising tensions. They thought that they wouldn’t be hit so close to the mainland and one of the islands closer to Japan would be the target. The United States was unhappy with Japan’s increasingly belligerent attitude toward China. Japan wanted to expand into the neighboring territory and take over its import market. At 8:10 a.m, a 1,800-pound bomb smashed through the deck of the Battleship USS Arizona. The ship exploded and sank with more than 1,000 men trapped inside. Torpedoes pierced the shells of battleships USS Oklahoma. USS California, USS West Virginia, USS Utah, USS Maryland, USS Pennsylvania, USS Tennessee, and USS Nevada; all sustained significant damage.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan. Although this event was a tragedy, Japan failed to end the Pacific fleet, especially since battleships were no longer the most important naval asset. Aircraft carriers were much more important. The American people were united in their determination to go into war. On December 8th, Congress approved Roosevelt’s declaration of war on Japan. Three days later, Japan’s allies Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.
One of the casualties of the attack on Pearl Harbor was Marvin Shughart, a Cañon City local. Shughart was born February 18, 1917 and was a graduate of Cañon City High School in the class of 1936. He worked for a time at the Cañon Hotel and later was employed in Alamosa. He enlisted in the United States Navy over a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor and held a naval rating as a radio operator. He was the first casualty from Fremont County officially reported after the outbreak of war.