Pearl Harbor National Memorial

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OVERVIEW: About this Audio-Described Brochure

Welcome to the audio-described version of the official print brochure for Pearl Harbor National Memorial. Through text and audio descriptions of photos, illustrations, and maps, this version interprets the two-sided color brochure that Pearl Harbor National Memorial visitors receive. The brochure explores the history of the park, some of its highlights, and information for planning your visit. This audio version lasts about 60 minutes which we have divided into 38 sections, as a way to improve the listening experience. Sections 3-21 cover the front of the brochure and include information regarding the Pacific War and multiple maps of Honolulu to Ford Island. Sections 22-36 cover the back of the brochure which consists of a recap of the years during the Pacific War and after, as well as how to prepare for a park visit. Section 37 covers Accessibility and 38 covers More Information. 

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OVERVIEW: Pearl Harbor National Memorial

Pearl Harbor National Memorial, previously known as World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, located in Hawaii, is part of the National Park Service, within the Department of the Interior. The park is situated on the island of Oahu, west of the city of Honolulu, and is split between Ford Island and part of the shore to the east. This park, established in 1980 as the USS Arizona Memorial, then redesignated in 2008 as World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, and once again in 2019 as Pearl Harbor National Memorial. Each year, on average one and a half million visitors come to enjoy the unique experiences that only can be had at Pearl Harbor National Memorial. We invite you to explore the park's historical importance. For those seeking to learn more about the park during their visit, Pearl Harbor Historic Sites Visitor Center. To find out more about what resources might be available or to contact the park directly, visit the "Accessibility" and "More Information" sections at the end of this audio-described brochure.

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OVERVIEW: Front Side of Brochure

This page starts with a black band across the top left with the words “Pearl Harbor National Memorial”. The center-right text reads "Pearl Harbor National Memorial, Alaska, California, Hawaii". On the upper right, are the words “National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior” with the NPS Arrowhead Logo. 

The top half of the brochure displays historical information and images about the Pacific War and the attack of December 7, 1941. 

The bottom half of the brochure has a map of Honolulu, then a close-up map of Pearl Harbor, and a closer map of Ford Island. 

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IMAGES, QUOTE and TEXT: The Pacific War

IMAGE 1 of 8: People lounging on a beach

DESCRIBING: Black and white picture.

SYNOPSIS: Typical 1940s daytime scene at Waikiki Beach. The slopes of Honolulu’s iconic landmark Diamond Head or Leahi, an extinct volcano, are in the upper right background. In the middle left is a short building on pilings that extend to the water’s edge. Behind it rises a slightly taller hotel building. The view of the water starts at the lower right, extends to the middle, then curves back to the right. In the foreground are several dozen beachgoers, men, women, and children sitting on beach towels, and walking along the calm water’s edge. Near the front, lower right corner is a beach umbrella and a surfer, dwarfed by his tall surfboard.

CAPTION: On war’s eve, Waikīkī, with its famed view of Diamond Head, was a favored attraction for tourists, soldiers, sailors, and residents of O‘ahu. 


IMAGE 2 of 8: Postcard

DESCRIBING: Color illustration of a postcard. 

SYNOPSIS: A slightly tilted tourist postcard depicts a bright sunny day with blue skies and some fluffy white clouds at Waikiki Beach, with the words “Aloha Hawaii” across the upper left. The word “Aloha '' is in red script, and the word “Hawaii” is spelled out using small yellow logs. 

It appears to show the same scene as Photo 1, from a slightly different angle.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: Diamond Head, or Leahi, stands tall in the background. Beneath the mountain is a thick line of green palm trees spanning the shoreline. A row of small buildings on pilings sits in front of the trees.

The left side of the picture is framed by three tall coconut trees. Across the middle are beachgoers and a surfer standing with a long surfboard. The ocean water is bright blue, and parallel to the shore are small breaking waves, white with foam. In the foreground on the left, a young woman strumming a ukulele, with a flower in her hair and a lei around her neck. She is sitting on the front edge of one of two outrigger canoes that are pulled way up on the beach. In the foreground, there are veranda rails, with six colorful lei draped over them on the right. Framing the right edge are two tall surfboards leaning up against the rails. Framing the top-right edge is the edge of a thatched roof.


IMAGE 3 of 8: Fireball off of boat

DESCRIBING: Black and white daytime photo. 

SYNOPSIS: A violent explosion’s fireball, coming from the destroyer USS Shaw, which is not visible due to being engulfed in smoke and fire. The fire scene covers the whole top half of the picture. In the foreground are four sailors watching the conflagration in the distance. Debris lay on the foreground. Between the sailors and the destruction, three undamaged, parked planes are visible, the largest being a twin-engine PBY seaplane on the left. The location was on Ford Island, in the middle of Pearl Harbor. 

CAPTION: Sailors at Ford Island’s PBY seaplane ramp watch a fireball erupt from USS Shaw. 


IMAGE 4 of 8: Circular clock face 

DESCRIBING: A round, color photograph.

SYNOPSIS: A brass clock, stopped at 8:09. The case of the clock is tarnished, with darker, textured spots dotting the brown rim, almost at regular intervals. Light shines on the case near 4 and 10 o’clock, highlighting it in light tan. The clock face is black, with round numbers the same shade as the highlighted parts of the case. Under the glass, the two hands are bright gold, standing in firm contrast to the face and case. A small dial is set directly underneath the 12, and the word “ELGIN” is immediately above the 6 in capital letters.

CAPTION: A clock from Arizona stopped when the battleship was attacked. 


IMAGE 5 of 8: People standing on ship deck

DESCRIBING: This black and white daytime photograph.

SYNOPSIS: Image taken onboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown. It was taken from its flight deck after it had been dive-bombed. It shows smoke billowing from the upper left side of its superstructure, at the conning tower, which is where the officer in charge issues orders on the operations of the ship. Suspended around the conning tower is an array of small electronic instruments. There is a large American flag flying from a mast, waving in the breeze. On the flight deck, in both the foreground and background, are dozens of crew members, some wearing life preservers.

CAPTION: USS Yorktown, shown here crippled by dive-bombers during the Battle of Midway, 1942, was soon after torpedoed and sunk.


IMAGE 6 of 8: Large group celebrating

DESCRIBING: Daytime black and white photo.

SYNOPSIS: Image shows people celebrating Japan’s just announced surrender. Out on a street are dozens of men, women, and children, with their arms raised jubilantly. Leaning out of the second-story windows of a building immediately behind them, are dozens more doing the same. There is so much confetti streaming in the air, an American flag hung from the building is barely visible. 

CAPTION: Americans of Italian descent in New York’s Little Italy celebrate V-J (Victory over Japan) Day, the day Japan’s surrender was announced—August 14, 1945. 


IMAGE 7 of 8: Person standing over table signing papers

DESCRIBING: Black and white daytime photo.

SYNOPSIS: Image shows a standing US military officer on the left, facing Japan’s Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu as he is leaning over a cloth-covered table, in the center, signing the surrender documents on the open deck of the USS Missouri. This took place in Tokyo Bay. In the background, there are rows of US military officers standing informally, solemnly witnessing the signing. There are three documents on the table, which has one chair on each side, both empty. The solemn, slightly balding, bespectacled Minister Shigemitsu is formally attired in a dark coat, grey slacks, white shirt, and dark tie. Standing behind him to the right is another Japanese official, with his hands on the back of his chair. A small section of the Missouri's superstructure looms in the background behind the witnessing American Officers.

CAPTION: Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signs the Japanese Instrument of Surrender aboard USS Missouri, September 2, 1945. 


IMAGE 8 of 8: Hawaii Remember Pearl Harbor Shield

DESCRIBING: A color photo.

SYNOPSIS: A tan shield-shaped badge, outlined in red. At the top middle of the shield is a small red crown. Below it is the text “Hawaii”, in blue capital letters. On either side of it is a red 5-pointed star. Below the text is a rectangular drawing, showing two green palm trees on green grass on the left, in front of a blue ocean. On the horizon, also in blue, Diamond Head stretches across the frame, its peak immediately right of center. Beneath the drawing is “Remember Pearl Harbor”, in red capital letters, each word on a new line. Below the text are 11 tan and blue vertical stripes, filling in the bottom of the shield.

CAPTION: The attack led to a national slogan and battle cry, which later inspired the popular wartime song: “Tora, Tora, Tora”



"Tora, Tora, Tora"


The United States was pulled into the deadliest, most globally extensive war in history when Japan attacked the tropical island of O‘ahu in 1941. O‘ahu‘s central Pacific setting and its great natural harbor made it an excellent location for U.S. military installations. Most important was the naval station established at Pearl Harbor in 1899, the year after the United States annexed the Hawaiian Islands. By 1941 O‘ahu was heavily fortified, with army bases, airfields, and gun emplacements around the island. After the attack O‘ahu served as headquarters for U.S. Pacific operations and staging area for hundreds of thousands of military personnel en route to the Pacific theater. 

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TEXT: The Opening Attacks

The December 7 attack on Pearl Harbor was part of Japan’s bold opening move to achieve its territorial ambitions. The strategic intent was to cripple the U.S. Pacific Fleet long enough to allow Japan to occupy a broad swath of the Pacific and Southeast Asia. In support of the Pearl Harbor attack, concurrent strikes on the Navy, Army, and Marine airfields around O‘ahu destroyed hangars and aircraft. On the next day Japan attacked Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Malaya. 

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IMAGE and TEXT: Battle for the Pacific

DESCRIBING: A rectangular black-and-white photograph, with a thick white border.

SYNOPSIS: Four male sailors sit in a row at breakfast, divided 1 and 3 between two tables, each of which holds white dishes and metal pots. On the far right, on the near side of the table, a fifth man’s elbow pokes into the frame. 

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The photograph is taken at an angle from in front of the man on the left, who is the only one to face the camera.

The man on the left sits alone at his table, serving himself out of a pot, his face furrowed in concentration. He has dark, floppy hair and is still dressed in a colored nightshirt. 

To the right, at the next table, is a blond man holding toast, caught mid-bite, with his right hand on the table and his gaze off to the right. He wears a white t-shirt and undershorts.

The third man is dark-haired, looking down at the table. His right hand holds a utensil, while his left is closed around a napkin. He, too, wears a white t-shirt. 

The final man sits at the edge of the frame, looking at his hands, which are held up as if to butter toast. He is dark-haired and wearing a white t-shirt.

Behind the men is the wall of the ship. Two open portholes line the wall, roughly 6 inches above their heads. The edge of a third is visible at the far right, behind the fourth man. A long, round utility pipe stretches across the wall, meeting a similar, perpendicular pipe behind the third man.

CAPTION: Crewmen aboard USS Cassin are shown in the ship’s mess before the attack. The destroyer was in a Pearl Harbor dry dock when it was struck by a bomb.  



Japan had started a war that would encompass a third of the globe and affect millions of civilians and military personnel. The attack on O‘ahu was for the most part successful, doing considerable damage to the virtually unprotected U.S. Pacific Fleet, especially battleships. As Pearl Harbor recovered, Japan won a string of victories in the war’s opening months. Its forces occupied country after country, displacing European colonial powers and gaining access to the natural resources that would keep its war machine running. But the O‘ahu attack bought Japan only a little time before Allied industrial might began to tilt the balance as ships, tanks, and aircraft emerged from U.S. shipyards and assembly lines. By late 1942 Japan was on the defensive, and for three grueling years Allied forces pushed across the Pacific towards the Japanese home islands. By the time of the Allied victory in Europe in May 1945, Japan’s defeat was inevitable. 

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TEXT: War’s End

In September 1945 Japan signed the surrender document onboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. On the U.S. home front there were spontaneous celebrations over the defeat of Japan and a collective sigh of relief at the end of wartime losses and hardships. During the seven-year Allied occupation, the former Empire of Japan adopted a new constitution in 1947, stripping political power from the Emperor and democratizing Japanese institutions. The occupation came to an end when the San Francisco Peace Treaty between Japan and the Allied powers went into effect in 1952. World War II was officially over. 

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IMAGES and TEXT: The Attack of December 7, 1941

IMAGE 1 of 2: Smoke surrounding capsizing boat

DESCRIBING: A medium, horizontal photo of a ship sinking.

SYNOPSIS: A colorized photo depicting the dramatic sinking of the United States battleship Arizona.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The Arizona ‘s conning tower leans into billowing black smoke concealing the sinking hull. The background is also filled with black smoke. Above the photo is a quote from Admiral Chester W. Nimitz saying, “They fought together as brothers in arms; they died together and now they sleep side by side…”.

IMAGE 2 of 2: People standing on a capsized boat

DESCRIBING: A small, vertical photo of a capsized ship. 

SYNOPSIS: In this black and white photo located on the right of the document, the partially submerged Oklahoma ship can be seen in the water with rescuers walking on top. Sailors stand in a small boat to the left.

CAPTION: Rescuers went to work as soon as the attack was over. They saved 32 seamen from inside the hull of the capsized Oklahoma. 429 crew members lost their lives.



Just before 8 am that Sunday morning, many of the sailors aboard naval vessels moored in Pearl Harbor were getting ready for leave and preparing for church services. In a few minutes the colors would be raised on more than 185 naval vessels throughout the harbor. On Ford Island and around O‘ahu, soldiers, Marines, and sailors at Army and Marine airfields and naval air stations were going through similar military routines.

The attack came with no warning as aircraft emblazoned with red disks bore down on the moored ships from all directions. Torpedo planes struck first, flying low over the water and launching torpedoes toward Ford Island’s Battleship Row, the primary target. They struck West Virginia, Oklahoma, California, and Nevada, along with vessels berthed in the navy yard. Dive-bombers destroyed hangars and other buildings and parked aircraft at Hickam Field and on Ford Island. Bombs dropped from aircraft high above the harbor tore through Arizona and other battleships. Fighter planes wheeled and dived, strafing aircraft and military personnel.

In minutes the attackers had transformed quiet routine into a nightmare of massive explosions, black smoke, and men leaping from burning ships into oil-covered water. Pearl Harbor was not alone, as bases all over O‘ahu were simultaneously attacked. The intent was to disable the planes on the ground, preventing airborne resistance to the main attack on the fleet at Pearl Harbor. In Honolulu civilians lost their lives when improperly fused antiaircraft shells landed in the city. Around the island soldiers and sailors fired back with whatever guns they could find, but with little effect.

The second wave arrived about a half-hour after the first. Dive-bombers concentrated on the southeast side of Ford Island and the dry docks, heavily damaging the battleship Pennsylvania and the two destroyers sharing its dock. Nevada got underway, but after the battleship was struck by at least six bombs, the captain intentionally beached the ship. Bombers again pummeled Hickam Field, while fighters and dive-bombers swept other O‘ahu airfields and bases. In less than two hours the Japanese attackers had weakened—but not crippled—the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

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MAP: Battlefield O‘ahu

DESCRIBING: A map of Oahu detailing the major affected points during the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

SYNOPSIS: Looking at a map of Oahu with the south shore closest to the bottom of the document, two large arrows arc around the island. One over the east side and the other over the west side. Both lead to Pearl Harbor in the center.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: These large arrows show the flight paths of the two waves of Japanese planes that weakened the United States fleet at Pearl Harbor. The first wave flew with 183 aircraft going around the western mountain range known as the Waianae Range. The second wave came from the east side flying over Kaneohe Bay and the crevasses of the Koolau mountain range. 

While Pearl Harbor might be the focus when thinking about the attack on Pearl Harbor, there were locations throughout Oahu that were attacked. This map details these areas focusing on airfields, gun batteries, radar sites and attack sites. Airfields are marked with a black airplane. Gun batteries are indicated with a black cannon. Radar sites are marked with a white circle with three arched lines inside. Attack sites are indicated with an orange explosion erratic shape.


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TEXT: Wheeler Field

Attackers destroyed 53 aircraft and killed 33 men. Part of the attack’s second wave was thwarted when a group of U.S. fighters engaged the Zero fighters.

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TEXT: Opana Mobile Radar Site

Mobile radar station operators at Opana detected a flight of planes. Because U.S. aircraft were expected, the duty officer to whom they reported took no action.

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TEXT: Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay

Strafing Zero fighters and bombers destroyed 33 of the 36 PBY seaplanes. The second wave bombed two hangars. 

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IMAGE and TEXT: Bellows Field

DESCRIBING: A small photo of a beached submarine. 

SYNOPSIS: A black and white photo of a Japanese midget sub that is grounded in the beach near Bellows Field on the far eastern part of Oahu.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The submarine seems to be on the shoreline with parts of the hull deteriorating. A line is still attached from the bow to the stern. In the background, an island rests on the horizon. These submarines played a role during the Pearl Harbor attack.


Attackers shot down three P-40 fighter planes trying to take off from Bellows and damaged several aircraft still on the ground. One of the five Japanese midget subs that were part of the attack grounded near the field. Two others were sunk by U.S. ships and two disappeared.

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TEXT: ‘Ewa Mooring Mast Field

At the Marine airstrip here, fighters and dive-bombers destroyed 33 parked aircraft and damaged 16. Attackers targeted aircraft around the island so they could not defend Pearl Harbor. 

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TEXT: Hickam Field

Attackers caused heavy structural damage and destroyed 18 bombers. The 182 killed here were 75 percent of Army Air Force deaths on O‘ahu.

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TEXT: The Strike on O‘ahu

After sailing undetected for 4,000 miles—including difficult at-sea refueling—the Japanese force of 31 ships took its position 230 miles north of O‘ahu. The first wave of 183 planes, launched from six aircraft carriers, reached O‘ahu at 7:50 am. The surprise was complete. “Val” (the American name) dive-bombers and Zero fighters bombed and strafed Wheeler Army Airfield. Kate torpedo bombers reached Pearl Harbor a few minutes later, followed by high-level bombers. Zeros raked rows of parked aircraft at ‘Ewa and Bellows airfields and Kaneohe Naval Air Station. 

While O‘ahu bristled with coastal gun batteries to deter a traditional naval attack, it was ill-prepared for a naval air assault. The island had inadequate antiaircraft defenses. To foil sabotage, planes at military airfields were parked in close rows, making them easy targets for strafing fighters. 

About 30 minutes after the first wave, a second wave of 167 dive-bombers, high-level bombers, and Zero fighters hit O‘ahu. This time U.S. sailors, soldiers, and airmen were able to mount some kind of defense, launching a few fighters and filling the air above Pearl Harbor with flak clouds, bringing down some of the attackers.

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TEXT: The Toll

Japan’s attack killed 2,390 people—1,999 sailors, 233 soldiers and airmen, 109 Marines, and 49 civilians. Military and civilian wounded totaled 1,178. Of the eight battleships in the harbor, five were sunk. In all, 21 vessels were sunk or heavily damaged. After the attack the Navy undertook a massive salvage operation, and all but three vessels—Arizona, Oklahoma, and Utah—were returned to service. The attackers destroyed 164 aircraft and damaged 159. 

The Japanese Navy lost 55 airmen and 29 planes. Of the five two-man midget submarines launched, four were lost and one was captured. Nine submarine crew members were lost and one was captured—America’s first prisoner of war.

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TEXT: Better News

While the destruction was massive, it could have been much worse. The attackers failed to damage the harbor’s submarine base, huge stocks of oil, and naval piers and dry docks. More importantly, none of the Pacific Fleet’s three aircraft carriers were in port that day, leaving the U.S. with its most potent weapon in the Pacific War.

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MAP: Pearl Harbor

DESCRIBING: A small square map of Pearl Harbor.

SYNOPSIS: A map of Pearl Harbor, depicting the location of military sites. The harbor is vaguely broccoli-shaped, a broad, round cap connected to the ocean by a scraggly stalk. Two peninsulas enter the harbor from the north, and Ford Island is located right of center. The Visitor Center is located at 3 o’clock, marked by “You are here”.  

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: Military sites are marked in yellow text, landmasses are noted in black italics, and bodies of water are marked with white italic text. 

Beginning in the south, Forts Weaver and Kamehameha are on either side of the entrance of the channel, which is marked “Pearl Harbor Entrance”. Both Forts are symbolized as black cannons. An unnamed coral reef is shown in bright blue below Fort Kamehameha, on the east side of the channel. North of Fort Kamehameha is Hickam Field, marked in pale green. Hospital Point is to the north, at the mouth of the harbor itself, directly east of 6 o’clock. To the east is Navy Yard. Between the two are multiple unmarked piers, creating sharp strips of land. East of the Navy Yard, near 4 o’clock, is the Sub Base, which sits at the back of a recessed harbor. A small, unnamed body of water is to the northeast. The Visitor Center is at 3 o’clock. Directly west of the Visitor Center is Ford Island.

North of the Visitor Center, the shore curves to the west towards 12 o’clock, where the Pearl City peninsula juts south-southeast towards Ford Island. Between this peninsula and the Visitor Center is the East Loch, one of three in the harbor. West of the Pearl City Peninsula is the Middle Loch, which is bordered on the west by the Waipi’o Peninsula. This peninsula is a thick arm of land extending from the town of Waipahu at 11 o’clock down to 6 o’clock past Hospital Point, dividing the mouth of the harbor. Two large, round, unnamed bodies of water are within the peninsula. West of the Waipi’o Peninsula is the West Loch. Continuing south, nothing else is marked on the west shoreline until Fort Weaver, at the mouth of the ocean.

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MAP and TEXT: Ford Island

DESCRIBING: A map of Ford Island in Pearl Harbor.

SYNOPSIS: A map of Ford Island, depicting military sites. The island is roughly rectangular and tilted to the east, so that the short ends are in the northeast and southwest. The northeast, southeast, and southwest sides are all concave. An airfield takes up most of the interior of the island, and buildings line the southwest side. A line of moored boats parallels both the northwestern and southeastern shores. The USS Utah is in the northwestern row, and the USS Arizona is in the southeast.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: Military sites are marked in yellow text and military buildings are marked in black text. Fuel Tanks are shown as hollow circles. The footprints of major buildings are shown, while smaller buildings are black dots and mooring quays are white dots. Boats are shown as grey ovals of varying size, and are unnamed except the USS Arizona and Utah. 

This description begins at the southern tip and goes around the island counterclockwise.

At the southern tip of the Island is the PBY seaplane ramp. Immediately north of it are Hangars 6 and 38. To the northeast is the Naval Air Station Headquarters.

North of the Headquarters is the Dispensary, a black square. To its northwest is the Air Control Tower, at the southeast of the Naval Air Station, which takes up most of the interior of the island and is marked in light green.

Immediately south of the Air Station Headquarters is a boat. East of Headquarters and the Dispensary is a row of two pairs of mooring quays paralleling the shore. A boat is stationed at the northern pair. 

The shoreline dips inwards north of the Dispensary. A line of fuel storage tanks wraps around the dip towards the Chief Petty Officer Bungalows. Directly south of the bungalows is a lone ship docked at the shore. East of the bungalows are five unmarked buildings on the shoreline. Offshore is Battleship Row, a line of four pairs of mooring quays parallels the shore, with a single quay anchoring the chain on the south. The first three pairs each have two ships moored, and the final pair has one ship. The interior ship at the third pair of quays is the USS Arizona.

Directly northwest of the Arizona on the shore is the Old Bachelor Officer Quarters.

It is the last point of interest on the east side of the island.

The New Bachelor Officer Quarters are located inland of the northern tip of the island. To the west is a row of 5 pairs of mooring quays, paralleling the upper half of the northwestern shore. A boat is moored at each of the northern 4 pairs. The third boat from the top is the USS Utah. No other points of interest are marked on the western half of the island.


In the opening moments of the attack on the Pacific Fleet, Japanese dive-bombers struck the seaplane ramp, damaging hangars and destroying PBY seaplanes. 

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In 1931 the battleship Utah was converted to an auxiliary gunnery training ship. In the early moments of the attack it was struck by two torpedoes and one bomb. It quickly capsized, entombing 58 men.

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OVERVIEW: Back Side of Brochure

The backside of the brochure encompasses the build-up to the Pacific War and its lasting impacts. The center of the page is a colored globe with the different battles that took place during the Pacific War and the importance behind them. The bottom of the brochure gives details on what to do to prepare for your visit and a map with the layout of Pearl Harbor National Memorial. 

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IMAGE: From Engagement to Peace

DESCRIBING: Horizontal black and white photo, hand-colored.

SYNOPSIS: Japan soldiers riding horses down a roadway with soldiers standing off to the side.

DESCRIPTION: This photo is slightly out of focus. In the center of the photo, a man rides a brown horse on a road. He is wearing a Japanese army uniform: a green jacket with long sleeves and button down front, a matching helmet, and appears to be wearing gloves. He has a black mustache. The horse is wearing a black bridle and reins, and a brown saddle. Directly behind the first horse and soldier, there is another soldier on horseback wearing the same uniform. A group of soldiers on horseback are visible farther down the road, following the first two. In the background there are several trees lining the far side of the road, they have either no leaves or very few. There is also a fence lining the road. Behind it, a small red building with a black roof sits in the middle of a field. A telephone pole stands in the background on the right side of the photo, off the side of the road. For the entire length of the visible road, there are rows of soldiers lining the road, at least three rows deep. They are standing at attention, and wearing the green uniform and helmets, they all hold rifles vertically with their right hand, alongside their bodies. About midway down the road, a soldier on horseback stands among them, perpendicular to the road. Behind the rows of soldiers is a large, two story red building with green roofs. On the lowest level of the building there are arches supporting the roof, over a porch, topped with a layer of green roofing. Above that is another floor with a similar veranda, topped with another layer of green roofing. The top of the building is a pointed roof. The building is built in asian style architecture, with the outside corners of the roof rising upward slightly.  

CAPTION: In its quest for resources and territorial expansion, Japan invaded China in 1937. The harsh occupation lasted until the end of the war.


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TEXT: Emerging Powers

The traditionally inward-looking but rapidly industrializing United States began to move onto the world stage in the 1890s. By the end of the century it was a colonial power, having annexed Hawaii, the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico. The nation warmed to its new role, shedding its neutrality in World War I by declaring war on Germany in 1917. The next year it sent a force of 1.75 million soldiers to aid the Allies. O‘ahu was caught up in global geopolitics as the expanding Pearl Harbor Naval Station on the island became the emblem of a fledgling U.S. empire with growing interests in the Pacific.

Japan was also making its presence known in the Pacific. Since the 1860s it had been swiftly modernizing, transforming itself through industrialization and militarization from a dynastic feudal society to a regional power. By 1910 Japan had defeated China and Russia in armed conflicts, annexed Korea and Formosa, and occupied Manchuria. An ally of Britain, it took control of Germany’s Pacific islands during World War I. Lacking natural resources to sustain its industry, Japan resolved to establish control over what it called the Southern Resource Area—Southeast Asian countries rich in oil, tin, iron, and rubber—putting it on a collision course with European colonial powers. 

During the 1930s Japan grew more nationalistic and militaristic. In 1940 it established the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, a bloc of Asian nations freed of western influence, to gain access to their resources. It joined the Axis powers through the Tri-Partite Pact with Germany and Italy. In response the United States moved the Pacific Fleet to Pearl Harbor in 1941 and embargoed oil bound for Japan. Knowing the U.S. Navy was repositioning, Japan decided to strike early and secure new territories before the United States and its allies could respond.

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TEXT: The Asia-Pacific War

The U.S. Pacific Fleet was knocked back on its heels by the Pearl Harbor attack, while coordinated Japanese attacks overran Southeast Asia and the southern Pacific. But the U.S. Navy quickly regrouped, and six months later would deliver an effective counterpunch. As the Pacific War heated up, Pearl Harbor became the center for U.S. operations in the Pacific, commanded by Adm. Chester Nimitz. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, headquartered in Australia, commanded U.S., British, Australian, and New Zealand forces in the southwest Pacific area. After Pearl Harbor, Germany declared war on the U.S. and America faced a two-ocean war. With the U.S. fleet divided, the Japanese had a decided advantage in Pacific warship numbers. U.S. industrial strength, however, allowed the military to rapidly expand its arsenal of ships, aircraft, and tanks, while Japan could not quickly enough replace its military hardware or skilled pilots lost in combat.  

The damage to the U.S. Pacific Fleet battle line at Pearl Harbor hastened the end of the battleship era. The primary warship became the aircraft carrier, whose warplanes could support or thwart the amphibious landings so crucial in the Pacific theater. On this immense battlefield carriers fought out of sight of each other, as the “flat-tops” launched swarms of dive-bombers and torpedo planes to seek out the opposing fleet. Battleships remained tactically valuable, defending carriers and shelling islands before amphibious landings, but strategically this was a carrier war. 

Knowing Japan’s only chance was to reduce U.S. carrier power, Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto planned to lure the U.S. fleet into battle off Midway in June 1942. U.S. intelligence broke the Japanese naval code, allowing the U.S. Navy to set a trap and ambush the Japanese carriers. Japan lost four of its six carriers at Midway and was forced onto the defensive. Allied offensive strategy then took three broad paths: the push across the central Pacific toward the Japanese homeland with a bloody “island-hopping” campaign by U.S. Navy, Marine, and Army forces; the Allied drive in the southwest Pacific toward the Philippines; and the engagement with our allies in the China, Burma, and India theater.

By 1944 the Japanese Navy was wearing down. U.S. submarines decimated Japan’s shipping, especially oil tankers bearing the lifeblood of its war machine. It was only a matter of time before Japan surrendered or the Allies invaded its home islands. After U.S. atomic bombs devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan accepted terms of surrender. On September 2, 1945, aboard USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, the brutal Pacific war came to an end. 

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MAP: Globe

DESCRIBING: Color image of a globe with various labels.

SYNOPSIS: The Western Pacific displays different battles. 

DESCRIPTION: Topographic colored globe outlining the Major Pacific Battles with a symbol of an orange explosion erratic shape. The center of the globe is labeled the Pacific Ocean, moving counterclockwise: 11 o’clock Soviet Union, 10 o’clock China, 8 o’clock Netherlands East Indies and the Indian Ocean, 7 o’clock is Australia, 5 o’clock Samoa Islands, 2 o’clock Hawaiian Islands (Pearl Harbor), and 12 o’clock is Alaska. Allied offensives are marked by opaque arrows that start at 6 o’clock and travel towards the top of the globe creating different lines. Around the globe are various battles labeled with their name, date, and its importance, these labels are found in the RELATED TEXT section of this description. The greatest extent of Japanese control is outlined by a border that travels around the edge of Manchuria, China, Thailand, Netherlands East Indies, part of New Guinea, rounding up the Pacific Ocean and back towards the top of the globe, then finishing the outline encompassing Japan. Distances are labeled as Pearl Harbor to Tokyo 3,852 miles or 6,199 kilometers and then Pearl Harbor to Los Angeles 2,556 miles or 4,113 kilometers.



Battle of Okinawa April 1–June 21, 1945: U.S., British Commonwealth navies make largest amphibious landing of Pacific War.

Battle of Iwo Jima February 19–March 26, 1945: U.S. Marines land on Iwo Jima to capture strategic airfield. One of the Japanese home islands, Iwo Jima is heavily fortified. There are massive casualties on both sides. 

Battle of Midway June 4–7, 1942: In the turning point of the Pacific War, Japan loses four carriers, 228 aircraft, and over 3,000 men. Its fleet never fully recovers. 

Battle of the Philippine Sea June 19–20, 1944: The “Marianas Turkey Shoot” is the war’s biggest carrier battle. U.S. sinks three Japanese carriers and downs some 600 aircraft. 

Battle of Wake Island December 8–23, 194: Japanese besiege U.S. island by sea and air. Small detachment of Marine defenders holds out for two weeks before surrendering. 

Battle of Leyte Gulf October 23–26, 1944: History’s largest naval battle cripples the Imperial Japanese Navy; it loses 26 warships.

Battle of the Coral Sea May 4–8, 1942: By sinking U.S. carrier Lexington, Japan gains tactical victory in Coral Sea, but U.S. wins strategic victory by halting Japanese expansion. 

Naval Battle of Guadalcanal November 12–15, 1942: Last and decisive naval battle of Guadalcanal Campaign in the Solomons leads to Japanese evacuation of the island.

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IMAGES and TEXT: 1941

IMAGE 1 of 2: Newspaper

DESCRIBING: Image of Front Page of Newspaper, black text on white background

SYNOPSIS: This is an image of the front page of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin Newspaper from the evening of December 7, 1941. The newspaper title, along with “2nd Extra” is across the top of the page, in Old English Font. The largest headline title says “Deaths Over 400 on Oahu, Latest Report”

DESCRIPTION: The subheading below the main title says “Tokyo Announces ‘State of War’ with U.S., Japanese Raids on Guam, Panama are Reported. Oahu Blackout Tonight; Fleet Here Moves Out to Sea”. Other subtitles on the page include “Four Waves, Start at 7:55, Oahu Hit in Many Places”, “Governor Proclaims National Emergency”, “Interisland Planes are held up” “Bulletins” and “Blackout for Oahu Ordered” “Military Censorship on All Messages” and “Two Japanese Flyers Captured”. A Section entitled “Known Oahu Casualties” appears to list names of those killed in the attacks.

Two photo images on the right of the page show people on a sidewalk in front of broken-out windows and wreckage.

The smallest type on the page is not legible…

CAPTION: Evening newspapers around the world carried headlines like this on December 7, 1941. For readers of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, it hit much closer to home.


IMAGE 2 of 2: Illustration of plane

DESCRIBING: A color illustration

SYNOPSIS: Drawing of a Japanese A6M2 Mitsubishi “Zero” Fighter. 

DESCRIPTION: The plane is light grey in color, and has a propeller in the front on a black nose. The wings are thick, with a rising sun, a red circle, on the tip of each wing and behind the cockpit. On the top of the plane towards the front, in line with the wings, is the cockpit, covered with a glass and metal cage. At the rear of the plane, there are two small stabilizer wings extending horizontally, and an upright rudder. Near the stabilizers is a blue stripe extending diagonally over the plane, the forwardmost point of the line is on the top of the plane. The tail of the plane has the characters V103 in black print. 

CAPTION: Japanese A6M2 Mitsubishi “Zero” fighter



After Pearl Harbor, Japan rapidly takes Thailand, Malay Peninsula, Manila, Hong Kong, Gilbert Islands, Wake, and Guam.

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TEXT: 1942

Philippines, Burma, and Singapore fall. Japan invades New Guinea. Its victory in Battle of Java Sea effectively ends Allied resistance in Netherlands East Indies. Doolittle Raid demonstrates Japanese vulnerability. Japan occupies U.S. Aleutian islands Attu and Kiska. Months-long Guadalcanal Campaign begins.

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TEXT: 1943

U.S. Marines occupy Guadalcanal. Solomon Islands Campaign protects supply line to Australia. Japanese are driven out of Aleutians. Allied campaign to retake New Guinea intensifies. Beginning of major offensives to take Marshall and Caroline islands and retake Gilberts. 

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IMAGES and TEXT: 1944

IMAGE 1 of 3: Soldiers trudging through water

DESCRIBING: Horizontal black and white photograph.

SYNOPSIS: Photo shows a group of soldiers, mostly standing waist-deep in the ocean. 

DESCRIPTION: The group of men is spread out from the bottom left side of the photo, extending up and to the right. A small wave crashes in the midst of the group, forming white foam. The soldiers are wearing uniforms and bucket helmets, they are holding their rifles above the surface of the water. Some of them hold their rifles on their shoulders. The man in the front center of the photo looks directly into the camera, he is holding his gun up to his chest and across his left shoulder. In the background, a large group of soldiers appears to be standing on top of the two landing crafts.

CAPTION: Marines and soldiers make amphibious landing on Tinian during Marianas campaign, 1944.


IMAGE 2 of 3: Planes on ship deck 

DESCRIBING: A horizontal black and white photograph with a thick white border.

SYNOPSIS: Photograph of planes lined on a flight deck with people standing to the sides.

DESCRIPTION: In the center of the photo is an airplane, the body of which is on the right side of the photo. The plane’s propeller is turning at full speed, making it transparent to view. The nose of the plane is pointed to the right side of the photo. The pilot is barely visible in the cockpit. The underside of the wings is visible, under the right-wing, are an insignia- a black circle with a white five-pointed star inside, and black outlined white rectangles extending from the circle. Other circular shapes are under the wing, near the body of the plane. The body of the plane is dark-colored, as is the rudder on the left side of the photo. A person in the foreground faces the plane and bends their right knee, with their left leg straight. They appear to be directing the plane, arm crooked as if waving the plane toward them. They appear to have something white wrapped around their head and wear a white T-shirt and dark pants. To the left, there are three more planes, lined up behind the plane in the foreground. There are also people in the background, appearing to direct the planes in the same manner.

This scene is taking place on the flight deck, there is a white dashed line painted on the pavement in the bottom left corner of the photo. There is a portion of the roof visible in the top left corner of the photo, possibly an air hangar.

CAPTION: Torpedo planes launch from USS Monterey during Battle of the Philippine Sea, 1944.


IMAGE 3 of 3: Group of men smiling

DESCRIBING: A square black and white photo.

SYNOPSIS: Photograph of a group of men in sailors’ quarters, hanging over one another while smiling facing forward.

DESCRIPTION: This photo shows a group of 15 men, all crammed into the photo frame. They all have smiles and looks of jubilation on their faces, some look like they are laughing. Many of them have their mouths open and appear to be cheering, several have an arm raised in celebration. All of the men have short hair, and all are clean shaven except for three men with thin mustaches and one with a beard, no mustache, in the center of the photo. All are fairly light-skinned, though tan, with a variety of hair and eye colors. They are all very close together, as if very familiar with each other. Most of the men are wearing shirts, some of them are bare-chested.

They are in, on, and near a three-tiered white bunk bed. There are two men on the top bunk, their weight causing the mattress and springs to bow down, somewhat squishing the three men on the second level of the bunk bed. A mustachioed man is in the top left corner of the photo on the same level as the top bunk. Two men are off to the side of the middle bunk. Six men make faces into the camera, positioned on the floor in front of the bed. One man pokes his head out from the lowest bunk.

A man in the lower left hand corner of the photo is wearing a white sailor’s cap. A man in the lower center of the photo wears a dark colored cap.

CAPTION: After two years of war aboard destroyer escort USS Wileman, crewmen celebrate upon learning of Japan’s surrender.



U.S. B-29 bombers make first attacks on Japanese homeland. U.S. takes Saipan and Marianas; retakes Guam and Philippines. Japan’s invasion of India fails. Japan begins kamikazi attacks in Battle of Leyte Gulf. 

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TEXT: 1945

Allies retake Philippines, Burma; take Japanese home islands Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Chinese offensives retake important cities in southern China. Firebombings devastate Tokyo and other cities. Atomic bombings, Soviet invasion of Manchuria lead to Japan’s surrender, August 14.

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TEXT: 1945 - 1960

Allied troops occupy Japan after surrender. Japan adopts a new constitution in 1947, democratizing the country. The 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty between Japan and the Allied Powers brings an end to the occupation and officially ends the war with Japan. With the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan in 1960, the two countries become allies.

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IMAGE and TEXT: A World Changed by War

DESCRIBING: A black and white photo.

SYNOPSIS: A large column of smoke rises up from the ocean creating a mushroom-shaped cloud. A seemingly solid cylindrical wall of water is capped with a large, horizontal cloud which spans the entire length of the photo. The cloud is fluffy in texture and has a flat top. In the foreground, palm trees are scattered on the shore along the sandy beach. 

CAPTION: Nuclear test off Bikini Atoll, July 25, 1946. 



The human toll of the war was unprecedented. The U.S. military lost over 106,000 in the Pacific; 2.1 million Japanese sailors, soldiers, and airmen died. From 1937, when Japan occupied China, to 1945 over 20 million civilians in the Pacific and Southeast Asian theaters died from military attacks, massacres, disease, and starvation. 

The carnage shocked the world into action. Less than two months after Japan’s surrender the United Nations was born in San Francisco. While its peacekeeping missions have not always kept the peace, the UN has been a key international forum and a crucial source of humanitarian aid.

The war also ended the old order in the Pacific region. Sea lanes would now be protected by the U.S. Pacific Fleet. In Southeast Asia and the Pacific Island groups the war hastened the demise of the centuries-old western colonial system. Movements for independence began soon after war’s end, and within 10 years most Southeast Asian colonies of Great Britain, the United States, the Netherlands, and France had gained some degree of independence. 

Overshadowing all: with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nuclear weapons had been unleashed on the world. The nuclear arms race was underway, and nations now lived with the unthinkable possibility of nuclear warfare. The first of hundreds of post-war nuclear tests by the U.S., Soviet Union, and other nations was the U.S. “Operation Crossroads” off Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Bikini’s inhabitants were relocated before the tests, and the island remains contaminated and uninhabitable. 

The U.S. conducted six other tests in the Marshall Islands until 1958. Marshall Islanders suffered directly from testing, but the threat of nuclear weapons affected life worldwide, from Cold War tensions to cultural expressions of anxiety over the nuclear peril.

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IMAGE and TEXT: Memorialization

DESCRIBING: Color photo of the USS Arizona Memorial.

SYNOPSIS: This is an aerial view of the USS Arizona Memorial. In the middle of the photo, the memorial, a white rectangular shaped structure, sits above the blue water. Submerged under the memorial is the oval outline of the USS Arizona hull, which is perpendicular to the memorial. A gun turret, circular weathered piece of the submerged boat, pokes up from under the water. At the end of the memorial is an attached dock and an adjacent small white boat. To the left and right of the memorial, white markers are equally spaced in the water and form a linear pattern behind it. Green foliage lines the shore in the top left corner of the photo.



Central to the park’s mission is memorializing those who fell during the attack on O‘ahu. The USS Arizona Memorial (above), built over the sunken hull, honors the 1,177 crewmen who died. Designed by architect Alfred Preiss, it was dedicated on Memorial Day, 1962. The hull is both a tomb for over 900 sailors who remain within and a living reef providing habitat for marine life.

The USS Oklahoma Memorial honors 429 sailors who died when the ship capsized. The visible hull at the USS Utah Memorial commemorates its 58 dead. 

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MAP and TEXT: About Your Visit

DESCRIPTION: A map of park grounds and facilities. 

SYNOPSIS: This map is an overview of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial grounds and facilities. It is both a map that highlights features and information about this place, but it also can serve as a broad wayfinding map.

DESCRIPTION: The map is oriented with northwest at the top. In the bottom right corner, there is a large, light colored area that is for parking and shuttle stops. Extending west is a path leading toward the Pearl Harbor East Loch. Along this path you’ll first encounter the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum containing a snack shop. To the right of the museum are the restrooms and park office. If you continue west along this path, you’ll arrive at the gift shop and USS Bowfin. To the right of the USS Bowfin is the USS Parche Conning Tower. If you take a left at the gift shop and continue down the path to the south, you’ll come to a T. At the T, continue left and return to the parking area. Continue right and follow the path to the Waterfront Submarine Memorial. From this memorial, continue south to the USS Arizona anchor. From the anchor, turn east and access the Aloha Court containing the Research and Education Center, tickets for the USS Arizona Tour, and information about the site. You can also access restrooms, the bookstore and a snack shop. Continuing south from the Aloha Court and along the path is the O’ahu Court containing the exhibit galleries, the USS Arizona Bell and the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theatre. Behind the theatre is access to the boat dock for the USS Arizona Tour and the remembrance circles.

Key: North arrow is a thin line encompassed by a darker circle with the word North to the right, oriented to the top left corner. The distance scale depicts 100 feet and 50 meters.


The park sites are adjacent to the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor. A good place to start is in the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. It is open daily from 7 am to 5 pm. The last program begins at 3 pm. The visitor center and USS Arizona Memorial are closed Thanksgiving Day, December 25, and January 1. The park is just off State Highway 99 (Kamehameha Highway), about a 45-minute drive west of Waikïkï.

In the visitor center’s Aloha Court you can pick up free tickets for the USS Arizona Memorial interpretive program (first-come, first-served). You can also purchase tickets for related Pearl Harbor Historic Sites. 

The interpretive program includes a brief talk by a National Park Service ranger followed by a 23-minute film on the Pearl Harbor attack. Immediately after the film visitors board a U.S. Navy shuttle boat to the memorial. All visitors disembark on the memorial and return with their shuttle boat. While waiting to take the memorial shuttle, you can visit the visitor center’s museum exhibits, bookshop, and snack bar and the nearby shoreline exhibits. Headsets can be rented for an audio tour.  

Other area park sites are the Mooring Quays along Battleship Row, and on Ford Island the USS Utah Memorial, Chief Petty Officer Bungalows, and USS Oklahoma Memorial (take the Ford Island Shuttle to this site). Pearl Harbor Historic Sites include the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, and the Pacific Aviation Museum. Take the Ford Island Shuttle to the last two.

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TEXT: Regulations

Bags or articles that allow concealment are prohibited in the park. Nearby storage lockers are available for a small fee. Visitors may bring a camera and camcorder. 

Follow state regulations regarding firearms.

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OVERVIEW: Accessibility

The visitor center and its restrooms, movie theater, exhibit area, bookstore, information desk, and drinking fountain are wheelchair-accessible. The US Navy shuttle boats and memorial are also wheelchair-accessible. Service animals are welcome. Call the park number for accessibility information on other sites.

Pearl Harbor National Memorial is one of over 390 parks in the National Park System. To learn more about national parks and National Park Service programs in America’s communities, visit

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OVERVIEW: More Information

Pearl Harbor National Memorial

ADDRESS: 1 Arizona Memorial Place, Honolulu, Hawaii 96818

PHONE: 808-422-3300  


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