'A date which will live in infamy' - Pearl Harbor attack happened 80 years ago

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The headline in the Dec. 8, 1941 edition of the Chillicothe Gazette proclaimed, "War Declared by Congress."

Congress wasted no time in declaring war after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in the morning hours of Dec. 7, 1941.

But back home in Chillicothe, the news on that front page was about the local servicemen who may have been serving in the Pacific, but their status was unknown at the time.

The front page of the Dec. 8, 1941 edition of the Chillicothe Gazette - the day after the Pearl Harbor attack.
The front page of the Dec. 8, 1941 edition of the Chillicothe Gazette - the day after the Pearl Harbor attack.

The secondary headline on the page read, "Chillicothean On Bomb-Hit USS Oklahoma."

The story began:

A check by the Gazette Monday disclosed scores of Chillicotheans and Ross countians to be in the Pacific area which exploded in war Sunday. So far as could be ascertained no casualty reports had been received up to noon by local next of kin.

At least one Chillicothean was believed to be on the USS Oklahoma, reported damage in the bomb raid on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. A number of others were stationed in Pacific outposts, including Hickman Field, Hawaii where bombs took a heavy toll of American lives.

One of the soldiers mentioned was Joseph Warren Hoffman who at the time was believed to be on the USS Oklahoma but his status was unknown, according to the Dec. 8, 1941 edition of the Gazette. It was just last year that Hoffman's remains were identified.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Hoffman was stationed aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Battleship Row off Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when Japanese aircraft launched a surprise attack on the Pacific Fleet.

The Oklahoma was hit by three torpedoes at around 8 a.m. that December morning, causing the ship to capsize quickly and resulting in the deaths of 429 crewmen including Hoffman.

A clipping from the Dec. 22, 1941 paper that showed the parents of a local sailor were informed he was officially missing after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
A clipping from the Dec. 22, 1941 paper that showed the parents of a local sailor were informed he was officially missing after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Although three sailors from Ross County were killed at Pearl Harbor, Hoffman was always said to be the county's first casualty because his family was the first to receive the War Department telegram declaring him officially missing in action, as reported at the time by the Gazette.

American Legion Post 757 on Cooks Hill Road south of Chillicothe was formed in 1949, and is named the Joseph W. Hoffman American Legion Post 757 in his honor.

The Dec. 8, 1941 edition of the Gazette also featured the text of the speech President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave to Congress that included the famous line, "Yesterday, December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."

This article originally appeared on Chillicothe Gazette: 'A date which will live in infamy' - Pearl Harbor attack happened 80 years ago

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