Dec. 7, 1941: Pearl Harbor attacked

On Dec. 7, 1941, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes laid siege on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor in a two-hour barrage that claimed close to 20 warships, nearly 200 aircraft and thousands of lives.

The “unprovoked and dastardly attack,” as former president Franklin Delano Roosevelt called it, meant war.

And Everett was quick to respond, a 72-year-old copy of The Herald reveals.

“Within a few hours of receipt of word that Japanese bombers had blasted American defenses at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Sunday the Everett civilian defense commission was in session at City hall.

With the unexpectedness of the attack on Hawaii and the Philippines, It was pointed out by Mayor [S. Frank] Spencer, there is no telling when an attack on the Pacific Northwest with its important naval yards, its Boeing plant at Seattle and shipyards, might be launched by a fleet of “suicide” bombers. Everett, he declared, must be prepared for such an emergency with a well organized civilian defense setup.”

Here, recruiters mobilized.

And so did civilians.

Military recruiters — who, at that time, worked out of the basement of the Everett Post Office — extended hours to “take care of the huge number of applicants for enlistment who are flooding the office.”

John W. Huffman of 2312 Wetmore Avenue was the first man in Everett to enlist following the outbreak of war with Japan. He joined the U.S. Army.

The U.S. Navy brought in it’s fair share, too.

Recruiters came to the office just after word came about the attacks at Pearl Harbor — so did 38 applicants. The next morning, six more applied in the first two office hours.

They also called on former Navy men.

“All men in Everett and Snohomish country regardless of age who have been in the U.S. Navy at one time or another have been ordered to telephone, call personally, or write to the U.S. Navy Recruiting office in Everett. This should be done immediately, the officer in charge said.”

The U.S. Marine Corps sent recruiters out into the city to actively seek enlistments.

The Snohomish County Central Memorial Committee plans two Pearl Harbor memorials this weekend.

Read more from the Dec. 8, 1941 issue of The Herald and others in our collection of historic front pages.

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