1941: Oregon football team called to arms after Pearl Harbor attack

In December 1941, the Willamette Bearcats traveled to Hawaii for a series of exhibition games. They would soon find themselves defending their country.

PORTLAND, Ore. — On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese military attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. The attack killed more than 2,400 Americans, left more than 1,000 wounded, and decimated the U.S. Navy’s pacific fleet.

As news of the attack reached the mainland, Oregonians held their breath. Some of their own were on the island; a local college football team was caught in the chaos.

Just days earlier, the 1941 Willamette Bearcats had arrived in Honolulu.

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