Second attack on Pearl Harbor commemorated, residents of Tantalus recall the destruction close to home

Two Japanese aircraft H8K, also called as the flying boat or more popularly as “Emily” by the allies, was seen in Marshall Islands carrying up to 550 pounds torpedoes. A few hours after the planes would be headed to Oahu. Photo dated March 4, 1942. Photo: Pacific Islander
Two Japanese aircraft H8K, also called as the flying boat or more popularly as “Emily” by the allies, was seen in Marshall Islands carrying up to 550 pounds torpedoes. A few hours after the planes would be headed to Oahu. Photo dated March 4, 1942. Photo: Pacific Islander

The second attack on Pearl Harbor in March 4, 1942 was not like the first attack on December 7, 1941. Bombs rained on Tantalus, a short distance from where civilian institutions such as the Roosevelt High School was located.

The first attack on a morning at end of the year 1941 on Pearl Harbor was massive. Thousands bore witness to the horror of the event. The second attack however was stealthy.

“It was the most ingenious and bold long range bombing program of World War II,” said Daniel Martinez, a U.S. National Park Service historian.

The Japanese used flying boats in a mission called “Operation K”. Two of such boats flew across the Pacific. The boats then stopped in the northwestern part of the Hawaiian islands to refuel by submarine. The crafts 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.

The intended target, the Pearl Harbor, was damaged but still operational. One of the pilots flew over the Koolau mountains and dropped the bombs over Tantalus in a very serious blunder.

The impact of the second attack was minor but the changes that US made on their strategy was major. Photo dated March 4, 1942. Photo: Pacific Islander
The impact of the second attack was minor but the changes that US made on their strategy was major. Photo dated March 4, 1942. Photo: Pacific Islander

The explosion of the 550 pound bombs were so strong that the windows of nearby homes were shattered. The trees were also leveled leaving behind 20-30 foot craters in the forest.

Lloyd was then twelve when the attack happened. He climbed the hillside above his home the next day and saw the craters. When he saw the impact of one of the blasts about 100 yards from Tantalus Road, he was horrified to realize that they were nearly obliterated by the bombs.

“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 were dropped on Oahu did minor damage to a few homes and caused alarm over a few of the residents. However, historians conclude that the impact of the attack could be seen in the change of 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.

After the blockade was set-up after the second attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese forces were impaired from refueling long-range patrol planes. This crippled their intelligence work through the skies for the Battle of Midway which took place months later. The battle was to be a very decisive victory for the U.S.

Bushes and plants have concealed the craters on Tantalus over the years. In history books, the second attack is less talked about. In fact, it is known only to few.

“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.

The KITV reports that the presence of the Japanese airplanes over Hawaii continued during the war. Years after the attack, historians divulge that the Japanese continued to launch small reconnaissance planes from submarines.