As chief historian at Valor in the Pacific National Monument in Honolulu, Hawaii Daniel Martinez oversees the interpretation of the attack by the Japanese that ignited United States involvement in World War II. As such, the Los Angeles native often has an opportunity to uncover layers of lost history and personal testimony that complete the story.
“One of the great myths about Pearl Harbor is that it was solely an attack on [the base],” says Martinez. “Rather, it was a comprehensive strike on all military installations, primarily the airfields throughout the island. In order for the Japanese attack to be successful, they had to take out our airfields so that we couldn’t respond.”
Martinez says that another seldom recognized aspect of the story is the number of dead and wounded in the areas surrounding the attack, beyond the military facilities.
“The civilian population was affected in Honolulu; 49 were killed,” he says. “Many were affected by friendly fire. And of course, you had airmen and pilots killed at the airfield. That adds to the 2,390 that made up the casualties for that day.”