On the morning of December 7th 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. After the smoke cleared, 1100 Americans were wounded and 2400 were dead, including Alfred Wells of Syracuse’s Eastwood neighborhood. He was serving aboard the Battleship USS Oklahoma and was killed when the ship capsized after being hit by multiple torpedoes. He was one of 429 causalities from the Oklahoma. 18 other ships and over 300 planes were damaged or destroyed during the raid. The attack came without a formal declaration of war by Japan. The next day President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in a speech where he famously declared that December 7th 1941 would be “a date which will live in infamy,” asked Congress to declare war on Japan, which they promptly did. This officially brought the United States of America into World War II.
You can learn more about the attack, Wells, and his living relatives in this AP News story.
According to an article from Elizabeth Doran of Syracuse.com, Wells’ remains were brought back to Syracuse after being identified in December of 2015. He was buried in the Onondaga County Veterans Cemetery on Onondaga Hill.
Learn more about the survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack in this Syracuse.com article by Chris Baker.
What do Central New Yorkers remember? We pulled some documents from our collection of those who have vivid memories of this infamous day. You can read them below.