Japan, its military leaders confident they could stagger the United States and gain time to seize the oil and other natural resources necessary to dominate the western Pacific, attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, sinking or badly damaging 18 ships, destroying some 200 aircraft, and killing more than 2,300 American servicemen. Though caught by surprise, Marines of the 1st, 3d, and 4th Defense Battalions standing guard in Hawaii fought back as best they could. Few heavy weapons were yet in place, and ammunition remained stored on shipboard, along with many of the guns. Nevertheless, these units had eight antiaircraft machine guns in action within six minutes after the first bombs exploded at 0755. By 0820, 13 machine guns were manned and ready, and they cut loose when a second wave of Japanese aircraft began its attack a few minutes later. Unfortunately, shells for the 3-inch antiaircraft guns did not reach the hurriedly deployed firing batteries until after the second and final wave of attacking aircraft had completed its deadly work. The Marines responded to the surprise raid with small arms and an eventual total of 25 machine guns, claiming the destruction of three aircraft during the morning's fighting. As the Japanese aircraft carriers withdrew after the raid on Pearl Harbor, a pair of enemy destroyers began shelling Midway Island shortly before midnight on 7 December to neutralize the aircraft based there. Condition Red: Marine Defense Battalions in World War II is a narrative of the activities of the defense battalions during the Pacific War.