Saturday, May 4, 2013

Movie Review: ****Pearl Harbor: Legacy of Attack

This movie is a National Geographic documentary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  It is a 2001 film, or 60-year anniversary of the attack.  This movie tells of the modern day search for a Japanese mini-submarine while also documenting the events of the day.  This movie provides further detail than the book I just read.
The American forces should have been warned an hour before the attack.  They messed in their communication systems at least three times.  Twice there was contact with mini-subs.  Once a periscope sighting and the other actually sinking a sub.  Neither of these reports made it too the right people and no one was alarmed.  Then there was the new radar, which saw the Japanese air armada and hour before they attacked.  However, this report was given to just U.S. planes arriving from the mainland.
I like this movie, because it brings to play the emotion of the day by talking with veterans of the day.  The men, after 60 years, still held the emotions just below the surface.  Many had them buried but came to Pearl to let them out.  The stories they told were horrific.  As too was the story of the Arizona.  The armor piercing bomb set off a magazine of gun powder.  Also the oil (it had just been refueled) ignited creating a fire that melted the skin off of people.  It would burn for three days.  The USS Oklahoma and USS Utah both flipped over and sank.  These three ships were the only vessels lost entirely.  The Utah was already mostly used as a training vessel.  The Oklahoma was refloated, but sank as it was being towed to California.  All of the other 18 ships which were damaged, (6 battleships) were repaired some having to be refloated, and returned to duty.  The USS Pennsylvania was the only battleship, that although damaged, remained in service.  The USS Maryland and Tennessee returned to service in February 1942.  None of the carriers were in port, and as the Naval war became one of carriers, this was most fortunate. 
The people looking for the submarine never did find it.  However, it gave the opportunity to tell the story of the mini-subs; five in all with two-man crews.  None of them returned, although one survived and was taken prisoner.  One mini-sub survived.
The movie also tells the story of Dorie Miller, cook third class.  He had the lowest rank because he was African American.  He helped get his Captain (Mervyn Bennion USS West Virginia) to safety after being the Captain was wounded.  He then manned a machine gun and downed two Japanese aircraft.  He had never fired a machine gun before.  He was awarded the Navy Cross.  The movie indicates he deserved the medal of honor, but his color kept him from this award.
I enjoyed this movie.  It makes you think that those who survived the Battle of Pearl Harbor would now be in their 90s.  I don't know if we have many of these men left.  However there response that day after after changed our world forever.

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