Now, 76 years later, the US Navy is remembering the 'day of infamy' with a series of photographs that compare scenes from that horrifying day to the present.
On December 7, 1941, the US naval fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, suffered a devastating attack from the air and sea.
The Japanese assault began at 7:48 a.m., resulting in the deaths of 2,402 Americans, numerous injuries, and the sinking of four battleships, and damage to many more.
Surprised US service members who normally would have slept in on that Sunday morning or enjoyed some recreation, found themselves fighting for their lives.
In 2013, the US Navy remembered the "day of infamy" with a series of photographs that compare scenes from that horrifying date to the present.
76 years after the attack, here's what it looked like, then and now:
Paul Szoldra contributed to an earlier version of this story.
Defenders on Ford Island watch for planes during the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
The battleship USS California burns in the foreground as the battleship USS Arizona burns in the background after the initial attack on Pearl Harbor.
Defenders on Ford Island watch for planes.
Sailors on Ford Island look on as the Mahan-class destroyer USS Shaw explodes.
A view of the historic Ford Island control tower from 1941. The tower was once used to guide airplanes at the airfield on the island. It is now an aviation library.
The Mahan-class destroyer USS Shaw explodes after the attack.
The battleship USS Arizona burns during the attack, as viewed from Ford Island.
Hangar 6 on Ford Island stands badly damaged after the attack.