Sunday, December 7, 1941, at 0748h, Japanese planes sunk several US battleships, including the USS Arizona, in Pearl Harbor, on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. More than 1,100 American servicemen died. Earlier that year, Gideons International contacted the Army and Navy Chief of Chaplains to get permission to give a copy of the New Testament to any of the men and women of the armed forces who wanted to receive a copy.
On December 2, 1941, the first of 50,000 copies were provided to Navy personnel at Pearl Harbor. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor five days later, there were reports of servicemen pulled from the waters in whose pockets were those copies of the New Testament.