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World War II: Pearl Harbor

Updated: 2 days ago

Red, white, and blue striped World War II-era pin with an American flag graphic and text reading "Remember Pearl Harbor."
Pin commemorating the attack on Pearl Harbor.

December 7, 1941 began as a quiet Sunday morning at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Joseph Petrauskas of Nashua, who served in the Army and was five days away from his discharge, was eating breakfast in the mess hall. Several other Nashuans were scattered about the island.


Circular seal with a light blue background, gold eagle, and white band with text reading "Pearl Harbor Survivors Association founded 1958."
Pearl Harbor Survivors Association Seal. This seal belonged to Joseph Petrauskas, a Pearl Harbor survivor from Nashua.

Japanese aircraft opened fire at 7:55 am. Japanese forces dropped bombs and fired torpedoes modified to work in the shallow waters of Pearl Harbor. During the attack, 2,403 Americans died, 1,178 were wounded, more than a dozen ships were damaged or destroyed, and hundreds of aircraft were damaged or destroyed. The American aircraft carriers were out on maneuvers at the time and did not sustain damage, and the repair docks and oil reserves were not damaged. Japan also launched coordinated attacks against the American territories of Guam, Wake Island, Midway Island, and the Philippines; the British territories of Malaya and Hong Kong; the Dutch East Indies; and Thailand.


The next day, the United States declared war on Japan, entering World War II as a combatant.  


Petrauskas stayed in the Army through the end of the war. He served in the Pacific and earned a variety of medals, including the Bronze Star.


Want to learn more about Pearl Harbor and the Nashuans who were there?

World War II in Nashua: The Home Front and Beyond

Exhibit opening June 14, 2024, 5:30 pm

Florence H. Speare Memorial Museum, 5 Abbott Street, Nashua, NH

For more information, please see the Events Page.

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