Obama visits the other Pearl Harbor
November 17th, 2011
08:02 AM ET

Obama visits the other Pearl Harbor

When President Obama touched down in Darwin, Australia, he wasn’t just the first American president to ever set foot on that country’sNorthern Territory; he was also the first one to personally pay his respects to the sailors who lost their lives aboard the USS Peary.  World War II buffs and military historians know well the legend of the American destroyer, which sank under attack decades before this president was even born.

The ship with about 150 crew was anchored off Darwin Harbor on the morning of February 19,1942 when it came under attack without warning.  Nearly 200 Japanese bombers—launched from carriers that attacked Pearl Harbor just two months before- were on a mission to strike the city.  The Peary, which was refueling at the time, was a sitting duck.  

It took a while for her to set sail and mount a defense, with evasive maneuvers, and anti-aircraft guns firing.  But it was too late.  The Peary was hit in succession with five bombs, engulfing the destroyer in flames and black smoke. 

Nevertheless, the brave crew kept firing even while the ship was sinking.  According to the US Destroyer History Foundation: “the last unknown gunner was firing even while the water rose… still at the gun controls- loading, aiming and firing, unaided-when The Peary went down stern first.”  According to official documents, that was 1300 hours- 1pm local time—3 hours after the initial attack.

89 sailors died that day, in what was known as the greatest loss of life suffered by the US Navy in Australian waters.  57 survived.

Today, President Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julian Gillard walked side-by-side down a sloping lawn toward Darwin Harbor, stopping near a 4-inch gun that was salvaged from the destroyer.  They pinned personal messages to two wreaths nearby, listen to a lone survivor play Taps, and then greeted-and in one case comforted- some surviving family members.

The gun points offshore, towards the vast sea, and the final resting place of the USS Peary.

Topics: Australia • President Obama • Travel

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soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Dean

    I'm surprised Obama didn't offer an apology to the Japanese for the aggression shown by the sailors aboard the USS Peary.

    November 17, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • John

      He actually tried to do just that. The Ambassador from Japan told him it would not be appreciated so he decided against doing it.

      November 17, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Just a minute

      Real stupid.

      November 17, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • GetReal

      I think that it is a brilliant signal to the Chinese leaders after they refused to stop devaluing the yuan. Now they have a US military base in their back yard.
      When our President speaks, world leaders should listen.

      November 17, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
    • exnard

      Yes, he is.

      November 17, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • Ded

      lol some people don't appreciate sarcasm. Obama is a horrible, horrible president anyone rooting for him is rooting for there party, not this incompetent anti-American socialist. The funny thing is that the same can be said about almost every president since '46, including the republicant even hold on to own message of small gov't.

      November 18, 2011 at 2:02 am |
      • John

        Finally, something I can agree with...

        November 18, 2011 at 9:06 am |
      • ddblah

        I am sure when Roosevelt had the new deal, he was branded as the most horrible president ever.

        To me, a president who was able to pass the health care reform after decades of effort is pretty darn good!

        November 20, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Brian Smith

      Dean I am guessing you are best friends with Sandusky. Just as birds of the same feathers fly together, people like you speak or in your case write when you know what the world already thinks of you. Get a life Sandusky Dean.

      November 18, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • drzjc

      Let me explain to you why the two atomic bomb to Japan was an act of cowardice. I don't any reason why the United States didn't fight with Japan ONE-ONE, if we have one of the best military intuitions in the world, why we have to use atomic bombs with a country that it never used it with us. Killing millions of people many of them civilians. When are fighting with someone with a pistol will you use a tank or airplane? if you are are man fight on-one and show that you beat some without cheating because that was exactly what the U.S did. So, the president knows that and that is why it believe that it was not necessary to use that kind of force.

      November 19, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Howard

      The current Occupy Wall Street movement is the best illustration to date
      of what President Barack Obama's America looks like. It is an America
      where the lawless, unaccomplished, ignorant and incompetent rule. It is
      an America where those who have sacrificed nothing pillage and destroy
      the lives of those who have sacrificed greatly.

      It is an America where history is rewritten to honor dictators, murderers
      and thieves. It is an America where violence, racism, hatred, class warfare
      and murder are all promoted as acceptable means of overturning the American
      civil society.

      It is an America where humans have been degraded to the level of animals:
      defecating in public, having sex in public, devoid of basic hygiene. It is an
      America where the basic tenets of a civil society, including faith, family, a
      free press and individual rights, have been rejected. It is an America where
      our founding documents have been shredded and, with them, every person's
      guaranteed liberties.

      It is an America where, ultimately, great suffering will come to the American
      people, but the rulers like Obama, Michelle Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi,
      Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, liberal
      college professors, union bosses and other loyal liberal/Communist Party members
      will live in opulent splendor.

      It is the America that Obama and the Democratic Party have created with the
      willing assistance of the American media, Hollywood , unions, universities, the
      Communist Party of America, the Black Panthers and numerous anti-American
      foreign entities.

      Barack Obama has brought more destruction upon this country in four years than
      any other event in the history of our nation, but it is just the beginning of what he
      and his comrades are capable of.

      The Occupy Wall Street movement is just another step in their plan for the
      annihilation of America .

      "Socialism, in general, has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual
      could ignore or evade it."

      Thomas Sowell

      November 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • 1FreeWorld

      Can we just agree on something?

      See below!

      [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZBTyTWOZCM&w=420&h=315%5D

      Thank you

      November 20, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  2. John

    I wonder what part of "Asia" Pearl Harbor is in?
    This guy was born there and thinks Hawaii is a part of Asia? Very strange. Hey BO, do you think Alaska is in Russia? So if Hawaii is a part of Asia, and Alaska is part of Russia I guess we only have 55 states now?
    CNN – you talk for days about Bachman saying Concord was in NH, but nothing about BO saying Hawaii is in Asia. Kind of like when BO said he was a Muslim before he needed to be corrected by Stephanopolis – not one word about it. No wonder your ratings are falling like a rock. I am sure CNN is not bias, it must simply be an oversight on your part.

    November 17, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Just so you know...

      Hawaii isn't part of North America either it's part of the Polynesian subgroup of Oceania...

      If you are so dissatisfied with CNN, please go back to fox news, where your "real" news lies.

      November 17, 2011 at 11:42 am |
      • John

        So Hawaii is not part of America now? Stupid libs.

        November 17, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
      • John

        BTW, please back up your comments and tell us about the lie you heard on Fox news – typical lib, I didn't think you could provide us with ONE. Real Americans are very sick of you people and ticked off at what BO has done to this country and the libs that support him. You libs do not have a clue. Savage said it best – "liberalism is a mental disorder" and it is now on display in many cities across the country. You have been exposed for what you libs truly are – Socialists who hate America.

        November 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Howard

      The other Pearl Harbor is all of America. After obama's election, or rather seak attack on America, three years ago, our country has been degraded by obama on a daily basis.

      November 17, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Notfooled

      That's because he never said that. You are a liar. Show us the link that he said that.

      November 17, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
      • Notfooled

        John --I'll show you the link where he did not say that. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/

        November 17, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
      • John

        Go to You Tube and watch BO APEC Summit Speech.

        November 18, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • MikeInCarolina

      More deliberate lies! He never said the Hawaii is in Asia. Maybe you got confused because he mentioned Asia and Hawaii in the same sentence.

      November 18, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  3. jean2009

    @John your stupidity is showing.

    The United States of America has states and protectorates (insular territories) on several continents around the globe. Puerto Rico is considered located in Central America, as are the Virgin Islands. American Samoa and Guam are in Asia, and to answer your question Alaska is located on the North American land continent.

    The school of Asia and Pacific Studies is located at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Technically, Hawaii is in Polynesia or Oceania and neither in the Asian or North American continent. But it does have a heavy Asian influence since it was first settled by people with Asian routes, and has many citizens of Asian decent.

    After all the President was in Hawaii attending the Asian-Pacific Conference.
    Did you wonder why it was being hosted in Hawaii? The fact that he referred to the Asian-Pacific region a being absolutely critical to America's economic growth should come as no surprise to anyone but the totally misinformed.

    Did you take time to read the full quote...or just your idiotic take on it?
    Try reading the New York Time: Obama Talks Free Trade and Jobs at the Asia-Pacific Meeting posted Nov. 13, 2011 by Jackie Calmes.

    November 17, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Michael

      Great rebuttal to the misinformed

      November 17, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • John

      You said it yourself – he was in HAWAII. You libs have lost your minds over this guy. He screws up and calls a state of America "Asia" and you stupid libs try to justify why he is right?

      November 17, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
      • jean2009

        We haven't lost our minds. You just happen to not have one, and it is obvious you did not read the exact quote.

        Just like Alaska is located on the North American Continent and the United States of America is located on the North American Continent. Where do you think Hawaii is located two blocks south of LAX? It is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Much of the culture is Asian in influence. If you want to be real technical and consider Asia as only the Asian Continent...then Japan is not in Asia, and Great Britain is not technically in Europe.

        Hawaii's mid Pacific location places it in a prime location for Asian commerce....hence the reason for it being chosen as the location for the Asian-Pacific Conference.

        November 17, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
      • Jack2010

        You guys dont understand simple headline and start blaming that hawaii is part of asia. THats not true. Obama visited another place in Australia which was attacked like Pearl Harbor was attacked in WWII.

        November 17, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
      • Get Real

        Stupid Repugs. They live within their own altered universe.

        November 17, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
      • John

        Hey Get Real – Great comments. You really make a good case. It is time to leave the basement and get a job.

        November 18, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    • MikeInCarolina

      Great job of setting the facts and details in order. It may have been a moot effort because the right has a way of ignoring the truth and facts when their heads are set on creating negative rhetoric. It's known as "playing fast and loose with the facts". Limbaugh and Hannity, etc. have made careers out of doing exactly that simply because they realize that their target audience is too shallow to think for themselves and will believe any negative comment about anything Obama/Democrat related.

      November 18, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  4. m

    So what do these rants about Asia have to do with this story?

    Oh BTW – republicthugs are pond scum.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  5. Reyes


    Start reading what is posted. If you had read what Jean said it was laid out there as plain and simply as it could. I'm not going to repeat what has already been written. It wouldn't matter anyway since it's obvious that you are incapable of reading. Why not go to a community college and take a geography class. Or a World History class. Almost anything will do to suppliment the home schooling you received from your Sister Mother.

    Conservative Ignorant Republicans. This is why the country is in the state it is. Because of morons like you that are allowed to vote for people dumber than them. Like Dubya... Palin... Perry... Cain... Bachman... what a waste of human flesh and a soul.

    November 17, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  6. Aussie74

    Our Prime Minister's name is Julia, not Julian. Somewhat disappointing that you cannot even get the name of one of your longest standing ally's Prime Minister correct.

    November 17, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
    • jean2009

      Thanks Aussie74 so noted; the mistake of your Prime Minister's name in the article. We have some people here probably grade school dropouts, who are under the impression that the Hawaiian Island chain is somewhere near Catalina or Alcatraz Island.

      November 19, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
  7. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Oh you petty, stupid saps! Bush didn't even know the names of the 'heads of states' he was about to have to deal with as LOL! the selected Presidents of the United States! He didn't know anything...his daddy could have told you all that! GHWB didn't even want him to run for President, he wanted JEB. Now you sit back like ghouls just waiting for the most brilliant man the office of the US Presidency has seen since Clinton and JFK and wait for what you want to SPIN as a mispeak or a misstep; you are SICK!

    November 17, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • John

      I'll bet Bush knows how many states there are in America.
      My initial point wasn't to bash BO – it was simply to point out how bias the media is. The libs say the media is not bias – I was simply pointing out how wrong they (you) are.

      November 18, 2011 at 8:58 am |
      • MikeInCarolina

        When referrng to to biased media, don't forget FOX and whatever networks carry Limbaugh and Hannity. They are nothing if not biased and don't even pretend to be otherwise. Maybe your definition of bias is anyone who doesn't broadcast misinformation about President Obama.

        November 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  8. theuniverseandstuff

    The Prime Minister is a woman, HER name is Julia. You yanks sure are stupid. 😛

    November 17, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • jean2009

      Do you mean the one who wrote the article and John?

      November 19, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
  9. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Out of the lot you have running for GOP Presidential Candidates, tell us who you think wouldn't have possibly said the same thing since the conference was Asian related? Oooops...I forgot ALL of them...they don't have any since of relativity. Cain: 'Do you agree with Obamas' handling of Libya? ........37 seconds....wait...what are you asking...I want to get it straight before I say yes or know. So much twirling around in my head'. Same question asked later ...'9 9 9'! and you fools keep taking up for him!

    November 17, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
    • John

      How to defend BO – I am sure that will be his take seeing that he has nothing positive to campaign on.
      Liz, you are the same person who said the people on the right provided a false Hispanic sounding name of the guy shooting at the WH. You are also the one who said you would be with the crazy protesters if you could. Do you actually think we take anything you say seriously? It is like watching MSDNC with Sharpton, O'Donnel, Big Ed and the gang. It is good for a laugh, but that is all it is good for.

      November 18, 2011 at 8:55 am |
  10. John

    You libs crack me up. BO comments on how he is in "Asia" when he was clearly in Hawaii. Then you try to defend him – I am not really sure what case you were making – something about Hawaii really isn't part of America? Or, BO was at an Asian Conference so he thought he was in Asia? Or Hawaii is part of some kind of sub group and isn't part of America? Let me just say – I think BO was born in Hawaii – if you libs want to classify Hawaii as something other than America I guess I can agree with you this one time.

    November 18, 2011 at 9:05 am |
    • jean2009

      A geography class would sure be a benefit for you. There is a world of difference between being one of the states of these United States of America, and in being in America. Hawaii is not (may I repeat) in America.

      November 19, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
  11. Dylan

    Hawaii is part of the United States of America, however it is not part of North America. It is in Polynesia or Oceania, which has close ties with Asia because that's where the people of original descent came from. I'd have to look at the quote to see the context.

    John you're argument is like saying when the U.S. held part of Germany that suddenly that land wasn't part of Europe but is now in the Americas.

    November 18, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  12. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Go Mike! Fish'em out the water!

    November 18, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
  13. Liz Carter in Georgia

    John, How do you know...? He was a 'leader' not a reader'! LOL! That's all is necessary for your party PRESIDENTS! They don't have to know too much! Strange how quick that changed when you all have slammed OBAMA for misspeaking the number of states and anything else you can find to play 'GOTCHA' with him! You loons expected him to walk into the OVAL OFFICE knowing everything there is to know about being President of the United States from the first day! Talk about BIASNESS...DOUBLE-STANDARDS!

    November 18, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
  14. Obamasux1

    Liz Carter, I looked into Obamas background before he became president and trust me I certainly did not expect this moron to walk into the oval office and know everything about being president of the US, and I was right he knows nothing. Thank you Barack Hussein Obama for ruining my country.

    November 18, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • jean2009

      Obamasux1...you are one fool. President Obama was far too late to ruin this country Bush and Cheney and the Rethugliklan horde had already managed to do that. He has spent the last three years trying to pull their train wreck of mismanagement out of the gorge...and things are now beginning to look better.

      November 19, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  15. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @Obamasux1; If you have the capability to look into anybodys' past and I doubt it, name one thing that alerted your pea-brain that OBAMA knew NOTHING about being President. Furthermore...he was elected by millions who evidently thought he was at least more knowledgeable than GWB! Judging by his qualifying portfolio of PAST accomplishments, presented to us 'LEGALLY' through the media and internet, I saw NO indication that he wasn't intelligent enough to be President! BTW, did you look into BUSH's PAST? LOL!

    November 18, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  16. Obammer1andDone

    Liz you really are looking more moronic by the post. Very representative of your party though, spot on!

    November 19, 2011 at 9:04 am |
  17. jerry

    another photo op. He has no regard for the military except for what they may do to enhance his power. He is leaving Iraq cold to Iran and this is an insult to the men and women who gave their blood for those people. This reminds me of the Vietnam pull out after which the enemy murdered hundreds of thousands of those brave and loyal south vietnamese left behind. This cold blooded marxist must retire to whee he came from in 2012.

    November 19, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  18. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Jerry...haven't we heard or read where you and the rest of your ilk were complaining that he wasn't 'pulling out' as soon as you thought he ought to have been? 'Oh...he promised to bring the troops home'. 'He said this...he said that..'! There's no pleasing fools and a gang of devious conspirators!!

    November 19, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  19. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Although it was also a an ill-thought out 'Conflict', later dubbed 'WAR', which I believe it should've been declared in the first place, you can't even BEGIN to compare the VIETNAM WAR 'pullout' to ANY of the pullouts of the the rest of these 'illegally prompted', unpaid WARS! NIXON DID THE RIGHT THING, FINALLY!

    November 19, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  20. Liz Carter in Georgia

    "Brave and loyal South Vietnamese left behind"? Do you know anything about the war in Vietnam..my husband does; who's a disabled Vietnam veteran of the USMC, 1971. Many of those veterans could tell you the truth! They unknowingly slept with the enemy often! There were many brave and loyal South Vietnamese who worked both sides...NORTH and SOUTH, OK? DOUBLE-AGENTS, OK? Further...my goodness...they brought as many of them back home with them as they could! What else do you want? What more do you expect?

    November 19, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  21. jean2009

    Troops in Australia are basically a side journey of the President's south east Asian tour. The highlight of the tour is to bring home jobs for Americans. It seems this tour could benefit American workers with 130,000 jobs and increase American exports by $39 billion....now that is very good news.

    November 19, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • Joey

      I agree jean2009, IF it works out that way. Plus these will hardly be the first troops there, we've had troops at Woomera RAAF for a long time. I'm retired USAF and tried my hardest to get stationed there but New Zealand was the closest I got.

      November 20, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  22. Liz Carter in Georgia

    ...And if you're AMERICAN at all is shocking Howard! Thank you for anti-American editorial. We Americans really did need to know that! BTW...I believe I see your true problem! You're afraid it's no longer going to be your KU KLUX KLAN AMERICA, huh? It's no longer going to be an Aryan Nation America; a 'Daughters and Sons of the South' America; a White Supremacists America; Willie Lynch or Jim Crowe America; huh? an certainly no longer a Greed Over People America! Not with us just laying down and taking it!

    November 22, 2011 at 11:57 pm |