Pearl Harbor Interesting and Fun Facts
1. The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center was built on reclaimed land from Pearl Harbor Bay, and the theaters and sideways have been sinking a little each year.
2. One of the best days to come to Pearl Harbor is on Dec 7th, this day has the most activities for visitors to experience, yet it’s one of the slowest days of the year because tour buses are not allowed at Pearl Harbor Visitor Center until the afternoon period.
3. Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is the only Aviation Museum in the country on an actual WWII battleground.
4. The USS Bowfin is the only submarine in World War II to have a patch on its ship’s battle flag that shows a pier and a bus. The USS Bowfin shot a torpedo at a freighter. While the ship was unloading its cargo in a harbor, the torpedo went under the boat, blew up the pier, and the bus sank in the water. The Bowfin crew added this patch to the other, showing 44 ships it sunk on its nine war patrols.
5. Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is known in Hawaii for being haunted and featured on many TV programs.
6. The USS Missouri fought in WWII, the Korean War, and the Gulf War but did not participate in the Vietnam War.
7. In the Attack Museum in the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, look on the floor in the center of the Museum; there, you will discover a drawing of the actual size of the Japanese torpedo used to sink the ships on Battleship Row.
8. On the lawn outside the USS Bowfin Museum, you will discover the only authentic KAITEN -a Japanese manned suicide torpedo on display in the United States. The Japanese built hundreds of these Kaitens in WWII, fearing the US invasion of mainland Japan.
9. Sadako Sasaki’s family gave the National Park Service one of the few remaining peace paper cranes folded by Sadako. At the ceremony, a Japanese pilot that had participated in the bombing of Pearl Harbor and a USS Arizona Survivor shook hands on stage. That was one of the highlights of the ceremony.
10. The US Navy ran the prostitute houses in China Town during WWII; the cost was just $2.50. One dollar for rent, one dollar for the girl’s services, and $.50 reserved for medication.
11. Every day, the National Park Service reserves two shuttles to the USS Arizona Memorial (300 seats) for student groups.
12. The National Park Service has two displays at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center that educates the visitor on the Pearl Harbor Shark Goddess, Ka’ahupahau. The first display is in the Oahu Court, and the second display is behind the National Park Service ticket counter.
13. Japanese student groups that come to Pearl Harbor are shocked to learn about their country’s sneak attack on Dec 7th, 1941; they are taught little about WWII in school.
14. During the US government shutdowns, the Park Rangers are laid off, but when the government reopens, everyone gets their full back pay.
15. After the grand opening of the new Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, annual visitation in 2011 went from 1.2 million to 2 million visitors by 2016.
16. Once, the US Navy sailors closed down the USS Arizona Memorial shuttle so that they could watch the Super Bowl game (They claimed it was due to bad weather). There were hundreds of complaints because it was such a nice day, and the next day the National Park Superintendent went to see the Admiral in charge of Pearl Harbor; needless to say, it never happened again,
17. Oil is still leaking from the sunken Battleship Arizona after 81 years, and about a quart of oil slowly rises to the water’s surface throughout the day and can easily be seen by its visitors. Locals refer to this as “the Black Tears of Arizona.” Over the years, a few visitors have taken pictures of the oil patches showing scenes of horrible faces.
18. When the marble wall in the USS Arizona Memorial’s Shrine Room needed to be replaced, the National Park Services shredded the old marble into little pieces and dumbed them far out in the ocean so no one could use them as souvenirs.
19. Every week, the Executive Directors and their Sales Directors of the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites partners meet to discuss ways to work together. On one occupation a few years ago, the discussion centered on coming up with a one-day pass to include the USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Tour and admission to the USS Bowfin, USS Missouri, and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum. When this new program was first introduced to the travel agents, the agents said the promotion would fail because visitors did not want to spend an entire day at Pearl Harbor. The travel agents could not have been more wrong; the new Passport to Pearl Harbor became the best-seller package.
20. The small Sadako Sasaki Crane display in the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center’s Attack Museum cost $75,000 and was donated by the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce. This display was built to encase the tiny and fragile Sadako paper crane in clear Nitrogen gas. The nitrogen gas is to help preserve the paper crane from unfolding and deteriorating so visitors can view her perfect paper crane for generations.
21. A few years ago, a high diplomatic executive called the National Park Service to assist the seven Moroccan princesses that are coming to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Upon arrival, the Ranger’s welcome committee was shocked to see that the princesses were all in their early 20s, looked completely different, and were of different nationalities. Later they learned from their bodyguard that they were not princesses but travel companions for the Prince of Morocco.
22. During one of her war patrols, the USS Finback was assigned to pick up downed US pilots from an air raid over Chichi-Jima, one of the pilots they rescued was a future President, George H. W. Bush.
23. The National Park Service gets many requests from movie stars, famous athletes, and well-known billionaires to have a private shuttle arranged for them to the USS Arizona Memorial, but all are politely refused. The National Park Service refuses to show favoritism and does not want to deny the public a chance to visit the Memorial.
24. Anyone can bring a US flag to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and have it flown over the USS Arizona Memorial at no cost. Drop it at the National Park Service desk, and they will call you when it’s ready for pick up.
25. During the Christmas holiday, the Navy offers free tours of Pearl Harbor for military and civilian families with their USS Arizona Memorial Shuttle boats. This incredible, narrated tour of Pearl Harbor is a lifetime chance. For information, visit PacificHistoricParks.org.
26. Sterling Cale was known as the “Warhorse of the Pearl Harbor Survivors.” Sterling led a charmed military career. He was the man in charge of taking the bodies off the USS Arizona Memorial after the attack. As a corpsman, he was on Guadalcanal from the invasion to the end of the fighting, he served during the Korean War and the entire Vietnam War, ending his military service in Laos for two years with the CIA. His favorite saying is, “It’s always a great day when you enjoy life above the grass.” Serling wrote a book on his life, and it can be purchased at
27. During WWII and the Korean War, besides the nine 16-inch guns, the USS Missouri was equipped with twenty 5-inch guns for ship-to-ship combat. In addition, there were eighty 40mm guns and forty-nine 20mm autocannons for anti-aircraft defense.
28. During the Gulf War, besides the nine 16-inch guns, the USS Missouri was equipped with 16 RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, 32 BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles, and four Phalanx Close-In Weapon System rotary cannons for destroying enemy missiles and aircraft.
29. After WWII, 44 sailors that were part of the crew of the USS Arizona and survived Dec 7th received permission from the Navy to be interred within the hull of the Battleship Arizona. The memorial service is held on the USS Arizona Memorial after hours. It includes National Park Service divers placing the urn in the ship, a committal service, rifle salute, TAPS, flag, and plaque presentation to the family.
30. The Sadako crane is so tiny because it was made from gum paper wrapping. After WWII, paper in Japan was scarce and expensive, so Sadako asked her nurses to find any scraps of paper they could find.
31. Families were children from 4-11 should purchase the National Park Service Junior Ranger book. Once the book is filled up, the child takes it to the Rangers, and they are sworn in as official; Junior Rangers and receive a certificate and badge. It is the perfect photo opportunity that you will treasure forever.
32. There is a secret escape door on Arizona Memorial in an emergency due to a terrorist act.
33. Besides the Navy’s shuttle boats, only the Pearl Harbor Admiral’s yacht is allowed to park at the USS Arizona Memorial.
34. Before Sept 11, tourist boats from Waikiki and private yachts were allowed to enter Pearl Harbor. After Sept 11, only military ships and officers’ sailboats could cruise Pearl Harbor.
35. For a unique and fun experience, visit the Pearl Harbor Virtual Reality Center, located in the courtyard of the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. For just $7.95, you can view five Pearl Harbor- Dec 7th VR Tours.
36. Have your family picture taken with the famous Lone Sailor located behind the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center’s courtyard.
37. The USS Arizona carried three 2,000-pound anchors; one was used for parking the ship in calm waters, two were used for windy ocean conditions, and the last was used as a spare.
38. During the ammunition magazine explosion on the Battleship Arizona, its 2,000-pound anchor, was thrown 100 feet into Pearl Harbor Bay. Navy divers were able to salvage it, and now this anchor is on display at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.
39. There were 38 sets of brothers assigned to the USS Arizona Memorial, in which 24 sets of brothers were both killed in action on Dec 7th. Only one group of brothers was fortunate enough to live through the attack.
40. The Japanese destroyed 188 planes in their attack on Oahu.
41. Newly developed radar showed a massive number of aircraft approaching Oahu on Dec 7, 1941, but the Navy officer in charge mistook them for US B17s and did not sound the alarm.
42. One of the Japanese command’s big mistakes was not to target Pearl Harbor’s Submarine base; four US Submarines were docked at the time. Within a few days, these submarines were sent to the Pacific to get their revenge on Japanese ships.
43. US Submarines accounted for 55% of all Japanese sunk ships during WWII ships.
44. Submarine crews had the highest death percentage rates of any US branch of service; 52 US submarines were lost, with 3,500 crew members.
45. USS Bowfin Submarine sunk 13 Japanese vessels with its only 5-inch gun, often their captain did not want to waste a torpedo on a small ship
46. The Japanese had some of the most modern submarines at the beginning of WWII because, in the first World War, each of the Allies (Japan was with the Allied Forces) got eight German-class submarines. Japan copied the basic design of these German submarines and employed thousands of German specialists for five years contracts to build new submarines for them.
47. You can take a self-guided audio tour when you purchase a tour of the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine, or the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum. These tours are fantastic, entertaining, and informative, and it would be a mistake not to take them.
48. The USS Arizona Memorial Audio tour is in nine languages and even translates the National Park Services’ 20-minute documentary movie into the visitor’s language
49. The Japanese launched five midget submarines in their attack on Pearl Harbor in the hopes that they would go undetected into the harbor and sink large US ships. Fortunately, none were successful.
50. The USS Ward detected one of the Japanese midget submarines outside the Pearl Harbor entrance and sunk it with her 5-inch guns from 500 yards away, which became the first US action of WWII. This sinking was another missed opportunity by the Pearl Harbor headquarters to sound the alarm of a possible Japanese attack. Three years later, to the day, the USS Ward was sunk by a Kamikaze attack.
51. One of the USS Arizona’s anchors is located in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, at the Wesley Bolin Plaza, 1700 West Washington Street.
52. The first Japanese prisoner of war, Kazuo Sakamaki, was from one of the midget submarines that the Japanese launched at Pearl Harbor on Dec 7th and later ran aground at Bellows Airforce Beach on Oahu.
53. The National Park Service made a giant mistake in its efforts to restore the WWII Bungalows on Ford Island located by the USS Arizona Memorial. Instead of restoring them from the ground up with similar material, they were bulldozed and leveled off their original foundations. When their regional office discovered the bulldozing, it was very embarrassing for the Natural Park Service’s Pearl Harbor Superintendent.
54. USS Bowfin Submarine war patrols were at times four months long, most crew members smoked, and they spent days underwater; the captain knew that when the crew’s cigarettes would no longer light, it was time to come up for fresh air.
55. The USS Bowfin Submarine was launched exactly one year after the Dec 7th bombing; the factory workers nicknamed her the “Pearl Harbor Avenger,” and the ship ended up fulfilling its nickname by sinking 44 ships in 9 war patrols, making it one of the most decorated submarines of WWII.
56. The non-profit organization that runs the USS Bowfin has given over $1 million in education scholarships for submarine family members.
57. One of the last things the famous US Senator for Hawaii did, the honorable Daniel Inouye, before he died was to secure $7 million for the USS Arizona Memorial’s new dock.
58. Each year, the nonprofit organization Pacific Historic Parks gives the National Park Service over 1 million dollars to assist them in staffing, special event costs, educational programs, and general upkeep of the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and the USS Arizona Memorial.
59. Over 100 Oahu civilians were killed or seriously wounded from friendly fire from Pearl Harbor during the Dec 7th attack.
60. A father and son were stationed on the Battleship Arizona at the time of the attack. Unfortunately, both died. The father was Thomas Free, MM1c, and the son was William Free, S2c.
61. A baby girl is entombed on the USS Utah; her father, Chief Yeoman Thomas Wagner, had plans to give her a proper burial at sea and placed her urn in his cabin. Then on Dec 7th, the Japanese torpedoed the USS Utah, and during the action, Chief Wagner was thrown overboard by an explosion and survived the attack. Later he tried to retrieve his daughter’s ashes by the ship was too damaged.
62. Each year, dozens of Japanese student groups visit the Sadako Sasaki display in the Attack Museum at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. They notify the National Park Service in advance that they want to drape the display with 1,000 paper cranes to honor Sadako Sasaki. These cranes are left on display for a few weeks and are given out as free souvenirs at the USS Arizona Memorial Museum Store.
63. Before WWII, the US Navy felt the ships at Pearl Harbor were safe from torpedo attacks because the harbor was too shallow. No one knew that the Japanese Imperial Navy had modified their torpedo so that they could be used against the ships at Pearl Harbor. You can view how the Japanese torpedoes were altered in the Road to War Museum at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.
64. One of the USS Arizona survivors who wanted to be interred on his ship was a bachelor with no family to attend his funeral service. The National Park Service invited their staff on Oahu and the Pearl Harbor Visitor Service employees to participate in the sailor’s funeral ceremony on board the USS Arizona Memorial. A good size crowd attended, and everyone felt proud to join in.