PEARL HARBOR TALK

 

Presented to

SAN BERNARDINO ELKS LODGE # 836

By

COMMANDER ROBERT S, KRONBERGER, U.S. NAVY, RETIRED

AMERICANISM CHAIRMAN

CALIFORNIA - HAWAII ELKS ASSOCIATION

December 5th, 1993


ES

PEARL HARBOR ADDRESS TO SAN BERNARDINO LODGE #836 ON 5

DECEMBER 1993., BY COMMANDER ROBERT S. KRONBERGER, U.S.

NAVY RETIRED.

_______________________________________________________

ON THE DAY OF INFAMY, AT ABOUT 0755, 52 YEARS AGO,

ON SUNDAY, DECEMBER THE SEVENTH, 1941, UNITS OF THE

IMPERIAL JAPANESE NAVY, WITHOUT WARNING, ATTACKED THE

UNITED STATES NAVAL BASE AT PEARL HARBOR, IN HONOLULU,

HAWAII, USING APPROXIMATELY 190 WARPLANES.


THE SUN ROSE OVER THE
HAWAIIAN ISLANDS AT 0626 THAT

SUNDAY MORNING, AND THE BUSINESS OF THAT DAY—WHICH

MANKIND CAN NEVER FORGET—HAD ALREADY BEGUN IN EXACT

ACCORDANCE WITH A PLAN THAT THE JAPANESE HAD THOROUGHLY

WORKED OUT SEVERAL MONTHS PREVIOUSLY. THE 190 JAPANESE

WARPLANES WERE LAUNCHED FROM SIX AIRCRAFT CARRIERS AND

WERE ALREADY HOMING IN ON PEARL HARBOR, COMING IN FROM

THE NORTHWEST. AT THE SAME TIME AROUND THE ISLAND OF

OAHU AND ITS APPROACHES 25 IMPERIAL NAVY SUBMARINES

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LAID IN WAITING TO PICK OFF ANY SURVIVORS OF THE AIR

ATTACK. FIVE OF THE LARGE FLEET-TYPE SUBMARINES HAD

ALREADY LAUNCHED SEVERAL TWO-MAN MIDGET SUBS AND THEY

WERE CONVERGING ON THE ENTRANCE TO PEARL HARBOR. THE

CARRIERS HAD PUT TO SEA ON THE 26TH OF NOVEMBER AND THE

SUBMARINES HAD DEPARTED JAPANESE WATERS ON THE 20TH OF

NOVEMBER.

IT WAS A BRIGHT, CLEAR AND PEACEFUL TROPICAL SUNDAY

MORNING AND THE GIANT NAVAL FACILITY LOCATED AT PEARL

HARBOR WAS SLOWLY COMING TO LIFE. I HAD ARRIVED AT THE

MERRYS POINT FLEET LANDING AT ABOUT 0615, AFTER A LONG

AND ARDUOUS NIGHT OF SHORE PATROL, HOTEL STREET IN

DOWNTOWN HONOLULU, WAS MY BEAT. I WAS RETURNING TO THE

BATTLESHIP USS WEST VIRGINIA, THE VESSEL THAT MY

FATHER, MY YOUNGER BROTHER AND I WERE STATIONED ABOARD.

MY FATHER WAS A CHIEF PETTY OFFICER AND MY BROTHER WAS

A SEAMAN, AND THEY WERE ASSIGNED TO THE GUNNERY

DEPARTMENT. I WAS A FIRST CLASS WATERTENDER AND WAS

THE PETTY OFFICER IN CHARGE OF A BOILER ROOM.

UNDER THE LIGHT NORTHEAST TRADES, SURROUNDED BY

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GREEN SUGAR CANE FIELDS AND COVERED BY THE WHITE

CUMULUS CLOUDS OVER THE KOOLAUS, IT SEEMED THE LEAST

PROBABLE PLACE ON EARTH FOR A WAR TO START. BUT AT

EXACTLY A QUARTER TO SEVEN THE USS WARD—A WORLD WAR

ONE FOUR-PIPE DESTROYER PATROLLING OFF THE ENTRANCE TO

PEARL HARBOR—IS CREDITED WITH FIRING THE FIRST SHOT OF

THE AMERICAN INVOLVEMENT IN WORLD WAR TWO. THE SALVO

WAS TARGETED TOWARD A JAPANESE SUBMARINE ATTEMPTING TO

PENETRATE THE DEFENSES OF PEARL HARBOR. WITH THE

SECOND SHOT FIRED BY THE WARD THIRTY SECONDS LATER, HER

GUN CREWS PLACED A PROJECTILE SQUARELY ON THE CONNING

TOWER OF A MIDGET SUBMARINE. WARD THEN FINISHED OFF

THE INTRUDER WITH DEPTH CHARGES. BOTH THE WARD AND A

U.S. NAVY CATALINA FLYING BOAT—WHICH WAS CIRCLING

OVERHEAD OF THE INCIDENT--REPORTED THE ACTION, BUT THE

REPORT WENT UNHEEDED.

FIFTY MINUTES AFTER THE SINKING OF THE MIDGET TWO-

MAN SUB, THE JAPANESE AIR STRIKE GROUP ARRIVED OFF

KAHUKU POINT—OAHU'S NORTHERN TIP—AND DEPLOYED TO THE

ATTACK. THE JAPANESE COMMANDER LEADING THE FIRST

FORMATION OF PLANES LATER WROTE THAT "THE NAVAL BASE AT

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PEARL HARBOR WAS STILL ASLEEP IN THE MORNING MIST, AND

THAT IT WAS CALM AND SERENE INSIDE PEARL HARBOR." BUT

INSIDE THAT CALM AND SERENE HARBOR WERE SOME 96

WARSHIPS OF THE UNITED STATES PACIFIC,, INCLUDING EIGHT

BATTLESHIPS, EIGHT CRUISERS, 29 DESTROYERS, FIVE

SUBMARINES, AND MANY ASSORTED MINECRAFT, REPAIR SHIPS

AND OTHER FLEET AUXILIARIES.

AT 0755 THE ATTACKING PLANES WERE IN THEIR DIVES

WHILE THE SUNDAY HARBOR WAS STILL AT PEACE. IN THE

NEXT SIXTY SECONDS THE BATTLESHIP WEST VIRGINIA—MY

SHIP—WAS HOLED BY THE FIRST OF SIX OR SEVEN TORPEDOES

ESPECIALLY DESIGNED AND ADJUSTED—LONG PREVIOUSLY—FOR

THE SHORT, SHALLOW AND NARROW RUNS REQUIRED IN PEARL

HARBOR. THE ARIZONA WAS BLOWN APART BY A BOMB HIT IN

HER FORWARD MAGAZINE, AND THE BATTLESHIP USS OKLAHOMA

RECEIVED THREE TORPEDOES AND BEGAN TO CAPSIZE.

IN CAREFULLY COORDINATED ATTACKS WHICH THE JAPANESE

PILOTS HAD BEEN PRACTICING FOR THREE MONTHS, THE

AVIATORS SLASHED AT THE STARTLED AMERICANS ON BOTH THE

SHIPS AND ON THE SHORE. THE PRIME TARGET FOR THE

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INTRUDERS WAS BATTLESHIP ROW, LINING THE SOUTHEAST

SHORE OF FORD ISLAND, WHERE SEVEN BATTLEWAGONS WERE

MOORED. AIRCRAFT COMING ACROSS FROM PEARL CITY,

CONSISTING OF FOUR WAVES OF TORPEDO BOMBERS FANNED OUT

OVER THE HARBOR TO LAY THEIR TORPEDOS FROM ALTITUDES OF

40 TO 100 FEET. THEY HEADED STRAIGHT FOR THE LONG

BROADSIDES OF THE MOORED MEN-OF-WAR. ALMOST

SIMULTANEOUSLY, THE DIVE BOMBERS APPEARED OUT OF THE

SUNDAY SKY TO BOMB THE LINE OF HEAVY VESSELS WITH

IMPROVISED BOMBS THAT WERE CONVERTED NAVAL 16-INCH

ARMOR-PIERCING PROJECTILES AND WITH LOW-LEVEL

CONVENTIONAL BOMBS. AFTER THE DEVASTATING BOMBS AND

TORPEDOES HAD BEEN EXPENDED, ALL OF THE ATTACKING

PLANES BANKED AROUND AND ATTACKED AGAIN, STRAFING

VICIOUSLY.

IT WAS ONLY DURING THE FIRST FEW SECONDS OF THE

UNPROVOKED ATTACK THAT THE NIPPONESE RAIDERS WERE

UNOPPOSED. AT THAT TIME IN HISTORY THE UNITED STATES

FLEET DOCTRINE REQUIRED THAT A MINIMUM OF ONE-FOURTH OF

EACH SHIP'S ANTI-AIRCRAFT BATTERIES BE MANNED WITH

READY AMMUNITION AT HAND. AS A RESULT THE MACHINE GUN

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BATTERIES COMMENCED FIRING IMMEDIATELY, AND WITHIN FOUR

MINUTES THE FIVE-INCH GUN MOUNTS BEGAN FIRING AT THE

INVADERS. ALL SHIPS IMMEDIATELY SOUNDED THEIR GENERAL

ALARMS AND THE CREWS RALLIED TO FIGHT .BACK AS BEST THEY

COULD. WHEN YOU CONSIDER THE INCREDIBLE CIRCUMSTANCES

THAT WERE AT HAND THE CREW DID EXTREMELY WELL. THEY

DESTROYED FIVE OF THE INVADING TORPEDO PLANES AT THE

START OF THE ATTACK.

BY 0825, WHEN THE FIRST ATTACK WAS OVER, THE

ARIZONA WAS A BURNING WRECK, THE OKLAHOMA HAD CAPSIZED,

THE CALIFORNIA WAS SINKING, THE WEST VIRGINIA HAD SUNK

AND EVERY OTHER BATTLESHIP, EXCEPT THE PENNSYLVANIA—IN

THE DRYDOCK—HAD BEEN DAMAGED. THE JAPANESE HAD

ACCOMPLISHED 90 PERCENT OF THEIR OBJECTIVE AS THEY HAD

DEMOLISHED THE BATTLE FORCE OF THE UNITED STATES

PACIFIC FLEET.

FROM 0825 TO 0840 THERE WAS A LULL IN THE ACTION

AND DURING THIS TIME MOST OF THE SAILORS ON THEIR

BATTERED SHIPS TENDED THEIR WOUNDED SHIPMATES, WHILE

OTHERS RUSHED TO PROVIDE AMMUNITION TO THE GUNS TO MEET

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THE NEXT ATTACK.

AT 0840 THE HIGH-LEVEL BOMBERS, LEFT OVER FROM THE

FIRST ATTACK, BEGAN CRISS-CROSSING OVER THE BURNING

SHIPS AND SHORE INSTALLATIONS WHERE THEY LAID BOMBS

FROM ALTITUDES OF 10- TO 12-THOUSAND FEET. AS THEY

VEERED AWAY AT 0915 TO RETURN TO THEIR CARRIERS, THE

SECOND WAVE APPEARED ON THE SCENE. THE 50 OR SO HIGH-

LEVEL BOMBERS SWUNG IN TO RELEASE THEIR DEADLY LOADS

THROUGH THE COLUMNS OF BLACK SMOKE RISING FROM THE

BURNING SHIPS. AT THE SAME TIME 80 MORE DIVE BOMBERS

ROARED IN OVER THE KOOLAUS TO ATTACK FROM THE EASTWARD,

WHILE 40 FIGHTERS SWOOPED DOWN TO STRAFE AND TO ENGAGE

THE FEW DEFENDING INTERCEPTORS THAT MANAGED TO GET

AIRBORNE.

BY 0840 THINGS WERE NOT AS ONE-SIDED AS IT HAD

BEEN. AS LATE AS 0805 THERE HAD ONLY BEEN ISOLATED

BURSTS OF ANTI-AIRCRAFT FIRE IN THE CLEAR SKIES OVER

PEARL HARBOR. BUT FOLLOWING THE 15-MINUTE LULL THAT

HAD EXISTED BETWEEN 0825 AND 0840 THE ARTILLERY GOT

INTO ACTION IN EARNEST AND THE HEROIC EFFORTS OF THE

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SAILORS, MARINES, SOLDIERS, AIRMEN AND THEIR OFFICERS

BEGAN TO TAKE EFFECT. THE USS NEVADA GUNNERS SHOT DOWN

TWO TORPEDO BOMBERS AND THE UNDERMANNED SHIP'S FORCE

GOT THE SHIP UNDERWAY SHORTLY AFTER 0830 DESPITE A HOLE

IN HER BOW MEASURING 30 FEET BY 45 FEET. SHE FOUGHT

HER WAY THROUGH A DETERMINED DIVE BOMBING ATTACK, BUT

WAS ORDERED GROUNDED ON WAIPIO POINT, ACROSS FROM THE

SOUTH END OF FORD ISLAND, IN FEAR THAT SHE MIGHT BE

SUNK IN THE CHANNEL AND BLOCK IT. THE DESTROYER

MONAGHAN GOT UNDERWAY AT 0827 AND RAMMED, DEPTH-CHARGED

AND SANK A MIDGET SUB THAT HAD PENETRATED THE HARBOR

DEFENSES. THE MONAGHAN THEN MADE ITS WAY SAFELY TO THE

OPEN SEA. THE LIGHT CRUISER ST. LOUIS GOT UNDERWAY AT

0931 AND BY THE TIME IT REACHED THE HARBOR ENTRANCE IT

HAD DODGED TWO TORPEDOES AND PROBABLY SUNK THE

SUBMARINE THAT FIRED THEM. THERE WERE MANY OTHER MINOR

SUCCESSES WITHIN THE OVERWHELMING DEFEAT. BUT AT TEN

O'CLOCK THAT MORNING, AS THE LAST OF THE JAPANESE

PLANES JOINED UP OVER OAHU FOR THE FLIGHT BACK TO THEIR

CARRIERS, THEY HAD WON THE MOST SMASHING VICTORY EVER

ACHIEVED AT THE START OF A MODERN WAR. WITH A LOSS OF

29 PLANES, FIVE MIDGET SUBMARINES AND 64 MEN THEY HAD

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SUNK FOUR U.S. BATTLESHIPS, BADLY DAMAGED THREE OTHERS

AND WOUNDED THE EIGHTH. THEY ALSO DEMOLISHED TWO

DESTROYERS AND DISINTEGRATED THE BOW OF THE THIRD AND

IN ADDITION THEY PUT SEVERAL OTHER WARSHIPS PERMANENTLY

OR TEMPORARILY OUT OF COMMISSION. IN THE BATTERED

SUNKEN HULLS OF SHIPS, IN THE OIL-COATED HARBOR, ON THE

PIERS, DOCKS AND IN THE HANGARS OF PEARL HARBOR 2,113

SAILORS AND MARINES WERE DEAD. IN THE BLASTED HULL OF

THE ARIZONA 1,177 ENLISTED MEN AND OFFICERS STILL LAY

WHERE THEY FELL THAT TERRIBLE MORNING. THE UNITED

STATES NAVY, IN TWO HOURS AND FOUR MINUTES LOST BY

ENEMY ACTION THREE TIMES AS MANY MEN THAT IT LOST TO

THE ENEMY DURING THE COMBINED ENGAGEMENTS OF BOTH THE

SPANISH AMERICAN WAR AND WORLD WAR ONE.

YET IN THE FINAL SUMMATION, THE CALCULATED

TREACHERY OF SUNDAY, DECEMBER THE SEVENTH, 1941 DID NOT

PAY OFF FOR THE JAPANESE EMPIRE. OF THE 18 WARSHIPS

SUNK OR DAMAGED AT PEARL HARBOR, 13 WERE REPAIRED AND

LIVED TO FIGHT BACK. IT MAY BE WELL TO NOTE THAT ON

THE FOURTH OF OCTOBER 1944, A JAPANESE FORCE CONSISTING

OF A CRUISER, THE BATTLESHIPS FUSO AND YAMASIRO, ALONG

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WITH THEIR DESTROYER ESCORTS RAN DIRECTLY INTO AN

AMERICAN TASK FORCE COMPRISED IN PART OF THE VICTIMS OF

THE PEARL HARBOR ATTACK: THE WEST VIRGINIA, TENNESSEE,

PENNSYLVANIA AND MARYLAND. THE OLD VETERANS GOT THEIR

REVENGE BY ANNIHILATING THE JAPANESE BATTLE FORCE

DURING THE BATTLE OF SURIGAO STRAIT.

OF THE JAPANESE FORCE THAT STAGED THE ATTACK ON

PEARL HARBOR—THE SIX CARRIERS, TWO BATTLESHIPS AND

NINE DESTROYERS—FOUR OF THE CARRIERS WERE SUNK SIX

MONTHS LATER DURING THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY, AND ONLY A

SINGLE DESTROYER SURVIVED THE WAR. ONE THOUSAND, THREE

HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FOUR DAYS AFTER IT BEGAN, THE WAR

ENDED IN A CRUSHING DEFEAT FOR THOSE WHO ENGINEERED IT,

ON THE DECK OF A UNITED STATES BATTLESHIP. NOT AT

PEARL HARBOR—BUT IN TOKYO BAY.

I HAVE SPOKE ABOUT THE AIR RAID IN GENERAL. NOW I

WOULD LIKE TO TELL YOU HOW I SPENT MY TIME DURING THAT

MEMORABLE, DISASTROUS DAY. AS I MENTIONED BEFORE, I

HAD SPENT THE NIGHT OF DECEMBER THE SIXTH ON SHORE

PATROL, UPON COMPLETION OF MY ASSIGNMENT I RETURNED TO

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THE USS WEST VIRGINIA ON THE MORNING MILK BOAT THAT

DEPARTED THE FLEET LANDING AT 0630. ONCE BACK ABOARD

MY FLOATING HOME I DECIDED TO FOREGO THE MORNING

BREAKFAST IN LIEU OF SOME MUCH-NEEDED SLEEP. I MADE MY

WAY DOWN FOUR DECKS TO THE FLOOR PLATES OF THE FIREROOM.

I SPREAD OUT A PIECE OF CANVAS ON THE DECK AND LAID

DOWN FOR A SHORT SNOOZE. THE SNOOZE WAS MUCH SHORTER

THAN I HAD ANTICIPATED, AS ABOUT 45 MINUTES LATER I WAS

AROUSED BY THE LOUD BELLOWING SOUNDS EMITTING OUT OF

THE BATTLE ANNOUNCING SYSTEM. THE OFFICER OF THE DECK

HAD JUST CALLED AWAY THE FIRE AND RESCUE PARTY IN

RESPONSE TO THE PROBABLE CALL FOR ASSISTANCE IN

EXTINGUISHING THE FIRES THAT WERE VISIBLE RISING OVER

THE HICKAM FIELD AREA. A FEW SECONDS LATER GENERAL

QUARTERS WAS SOUNDED. ALMOST SIMULTANEOUSLY ALL HELL

BROKE LOOSE. THE SHIP COMMENCED EXPLODING, SHAKING AND

ROCKING. WE THEN LOST ALL ELECTRIC POWER AND LIGHTING

AS A RESULT OF THE BLASTS. MY BATTLE STATION WAS AS

WATER TENDER IN CHARGE OF THE WATCH IN A FIREROOM ON

THE PORT SIDE OF THE SHIP, JUST AFT OF THE POINT OF

IMPACT OF THE INCOMING TORPEDOES. THEY STRUCK US

BROADSIDE AND THE THREE FIREROOMS DIRECTLY FORWARD OF

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MY BATTLE STATION TOOK THE FULL IMPACT OF THE SIX OR

SEVEN TORPEDOES THAT STRUCK OUR SHIP. THESE SPACES

WERE COMPLETELY DEMOLISHED, AND ALL WHO WERE AT THEIR

BATTLE STATIONS IN THOSE SPACES LOST THEIR LIVES. IT

MAY BE INTERESTING TO NOTE THAT THERE WAS ONLY A ONE-

QUARTER-INCH STEEL BULKHEAD SEPARATING THE DEMOLISHED

FIREROOMS AND THE ONE THAT I WAS OCCUPYING. THE

EXPLOSIONS CAUSED THE PIPING AND BULKHEADS TO SPLIT OR

RUPTURE, ALLOWING THE SEA WATER TO ENTER THE SPACE.

SINCE WE HAD NO LIGHTING, POWER OR COMMUNICATION, AND

FLOW OF SEA WATER INTO THE SPACE COULD NOT BE

CONTROLLED, I GAVE THE ORDER TO EVACUATE THE SPACE. MY

CREW AND I FELT OUR WAY UP 40 FEET OF LADDERS, THROUGH

THE AIR LOCKS AND THE ARMORED HATCH AS THE EXPLOSIONS

CONTINUED TO ROCK THE SHIP.

WHEN I FINALLY REACHED THE WEATHER DECK OF THE SHIP

MY FIRST IMPULSE WAS TO SEARCH FOR MY FATHER AND MY

BROTHER. HAVING NO SUCCESS I FOLLOWED THE ORDER TO

ABANDON SHIP. I WAS IN HOPES THAT I WOULD CONTACT THEM

ASHORE. SEVERAL OF US LEAPED INTO THE FLAMING WATERS

OF PEARL HARBOR AND HEADED FOR THE SAFETY OF FORD

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ISLAND. WE REACHED THE SHORE LINE AND WERE

TEMPORARILY SAFE FROM THE STILL EXPLODING AND BURNING

SHIPS. A FEW MINUTES LATER A MOTOR LAUNCH NOSED ITS

WAY INTO THE EMBANKMENT, WE WERE TAKEN ABOARD AND

TRANSPORTED TO THE NAVAL STATION RECEIVING BARRACKS

WHERE WE ASSISTED IN THE SETTING UP AND MANNING OF

ANTI-AIRCRAFT BATTERIES BEING ESTABLISHED ON THE ROOF

OF THE BUILDING. ABOUT 1030 WE WERE ORDERED BACK TO

THE WEST VIRGINIA TO FIGHT FIRES AND TO REMOVE

CASUALTIES. UPON MY RETURN ABOARD I RENEWED MY SEARCH

FOR MY FATHER AND BROTHER. SEVERAL OF MY SHIPMATES HAD

EITHER SEEN OR TALKED WITH MY FATHER AND REPORTED THAT

HE WAS UNHARMED AND WAS SEARCHING FOR MY BROTHER AND

MYSELF. I LATER LEARNED THAT MY FATHER HAD BEEN

STANDING UNDER THE OVERHAND OF NUMBER THREE TURRET WHEN

ONE OF THE IMPROVISED 16-INCH ARMOR-PIERCING

PROJECTILES STRUCK AND PENETRATED THE ARMORED TURRET.

THE PROJECTILE PROVED TO BE A DUD. I ALSO LEARNED THAT

MY BROTHER WAS IN THE AMMUNITION HANDLING ROOM OF

NUMBER THREE TURRET WHEN THE PROJECTILE REACHED ITS

MARK. IT HAD LANDED LESS THAN FIVE FEET FROM WHERE HE

WAS OPERATING THE AMMUNITION HOIST. HAD THE PROJECTILE

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DONE ITS JOB, IT WOULD HAVE UNDOUBTEDLY TAKEN THE LIVES

OF MY FATHER, MY BROTHER AND MYSELF. THE BARBET OF THE

TURRET WAS HOLLOW AND EXTENDED TO THE KEEL OF THE SHIP

SOME FEW FEET AFT OF THE FIREROOMS. WORD SOON REACHED

ME THAT MY BROTHER WAS SAFE AND BOARDED A SHIP THAT HAD

MADE IT TO THE OPEN SEA. HE WAS LATER TRANSFERRED TO

THE CRUISER USS SALT LAKE CITY, WHERE HE SERVED FOR THE

ENTIRE WAR. HAVING BEEN RELIEVED OF MY PERSONAL

FRUSTRATIONS, I WAS THEN OBLIGATED TO ASSIST MY

SHIPMATES IN THE FIRE-FIGHTING AND OTHER TASKS

SURROUNDING THE HOLOCAUST. LATER IN THE AFTERNOON I

WAS WORKING AROUND THE QUARTERDECK AREA OF THE WEST

VIRGINIA WHEN ADMIRAL WALTER ANDERSON; COMMANDER-

BATTLE SHIPS-BATTLE FORCE; TOLD THE SHIP'S EXECUTIVE

OFFICER THAT THE ARIZONA WAS STILL A SHIP OF THE LINE

AND AS SUCH SHE SHOULD BE FLYING OUR NATIONAL ENSIGN.

THE COMMANDER CALLED ME OVER AND INSTRUCTED ME TO

ACQUIRE A BOAT, PICK SOME MEN, BOARD THE DEVASTATED,

BURNING ARIZONA AND REPLACE THE BURNT FLAG OF OUR

COUNTRY ON THE AFTER FLAGSTAFF. THIS WAS PROBABLY THE

MOST LASTING AND PROUDEST MOMENT OF THE DAYS OF WORLD

WAR TWO FOR ME.

15

WHILE RESTING BETWEEN TASKS, MANY OF US SOUGHT

SHELTER, WARMTH AND PROTECTION ABOARD THE USS

TENNESSEE, WHICH WAS MOORED ALONGSIDE, INBOARD OF THE

WEST VIRGINIA. WHILE WE WERE THERE WE RELIEVED THE

WATCHSTANDERS IN THE TENNESSEE FIREROOMS FOR SHORT

SPELLS, AS THE TENNESSEE WAS OPERATING HER MAIN ENGINES

AT FULL POWER IN ORDER TO HOLD BACK THE FIRES THAT WERE

ON THE SURFACE OF THE WATER SURROUNDING THE SUNKEN

SHIPS. THE OIL, FIRE AND HEAT EMERGING FROM THE

ARIZONA WAS PUTTING THE TENNESSEE IN PERIL OF CAUSING

THE GASOLINE AND COMPRESSED GAS STORAGE TANKS STORED ON

THE SHIP'S STERN TO EXPLODE AND BURN.

LATER THAT NIGHT OF THE SEVENTH, AS WE WERE STILL

FIGHTING FIRES, SEVERAL AIRCRAFT APPEARED OVER THE TEN-

TEN PIER OF THE SHIPYARD. THEY MADE A LEFT TURN

PASSING OVER THE SUNKEN VESSELS AND THEN TURNED ON

THEIR NAVIGATIONAL LIGHTS. IMMEDIATELY EVERY USABLE

GUN IN THE HARBOR OPENED FIRE AND DESTROYED THE

INCOMING AIRCRAFT. SOON WE WERE DEEPLY SADDENED TO

LEARN THAT THE INCOMING PLANES WERE AMERICAN, LAUNCHED

FROM THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER ENTERPRISE, IN SUPPORT OF OUR

16

DEFENSIVE POSITIONS. A TRULY SAD EXPERIENCE. FOR THE

REST OF THE NIGHT AND THE NEXT DAY WE WERE KEPT BUSY

REGROUPING AND ATTEMPTING TO BRING CONDITIONS BACK TO

NORMAL.

LATE IN THE DAY OF DECEMBER THE EIGHTH, THE

AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS ENTERPRISE ENTERED PORT IN ORDER

TO REPLENISH HER FUEL SUPPLY, TAKE ON PROVISIONS AND TO

GATHER REPLACEMENTS FOR HER DIMINISHED CREW. IT BEING

THE START OF THE CHRISTMAS SEASON, ONE-THIRD OF THE

SHIP'S COMPANY WAS ON THE MAINLAND IN A HOLIDAY LEAVE

STATUS. CREW REPLACEMENTS WERE SOLICITED FROM THE

SURVIVORS OF THE SUNKEN SHIPS AND WERE STRICTLY

VOLUNTEER. I ANSWERED THE ENTERPRISE'S CALL FOR MUCH-

NEEDED EXPERIENCED ENGINEERING PERSONNEL AND I REPORTED

ABOARD ENTERPRISE AT 0300 ON THE MORNING OF DECEMBER

THE NINTH. ONE HOUR LATER WE GOT UNDERWAY UNDER THE

COVER OF DARKNESS AS A SAFETY PRECAUTION GUARDING

AGAINST THE POSSIBILITY OF A LURKING SUBMARINE OUTSIDE

OF THE HARBOR ANTI-SUBMARINE NETS.

I WAS DEEPLY HONORED LATER THAT MORNING WHEN THE

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TASK FORCE COMMANDER, VICE ADMIRAL WILLIAM HALSEY, SENT

FOR ME AND HAD HIS ORDERLY ESCORT ME TO HIS CABIN. THE

ADMIRAL, BEING AN OLD FAMILY FRIEND AND SHIPMATE OF

MANY YEARS, WAS CONCERNED OVER THE SAFETY OF MY FATHER

MY BROTHER AND MANY OF HIS OTHER FRIENDS AND SHIPMATES

SERVING ON WEST VIRGINIA. THIS GREAT ADMIRAL HAD MY

ANXIOUS MOTHER NOTIFIED THAT HER HUSBAND AND TWO SONS

WERE ALIVE, SAFE AND UNHARMED. THAT WAS THE FIRST NEWS

THAT MY MOTHER HAD OF US SINCE THE NEWS MEDIA ANNOUNCED

THAT PEARL HARBOR HAD BEEN ATTACKED AND THAT THE WEST

VIRGINIA HAD BEEN SUNK. SHE RECEIVED THE ADMIRAL'S

MESSAGE FROM ONE OF HIS OFFICERS ENROUTE TO WASHINGTON

ALMOST THREE WEEKS AFTER THE ATTACK.

IN CONCLUSION, I WOULD BE HAPPY TO SAY THAT IT HAD

ENDED HERE, BUT THIS WAS JUST THE BEGINNING OF 1,364

DAYS OF DEATH, MISERY AND BROKEN HEARTS. THE SAD PART

OF THE EVENTS OF WORLD WAR TWO IS THAT MANY AMERICANS

FAILED TO HEED THE LESSONS LEARNED RELATING TO OUR

NATIONAL DEFENSE, NATIONAL SECURITY, OUR PREPAREDNESS

FOR WAR AND OF THE INTEGRITY OF OUR ADVERSARIES. FOR

THOSE AMERICANS WHO CONDEMN THE UNITED STATES FOR THE

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USE OF THE ATOMIC BOMB, THEY NEED ONLY TO REMEMBER THAT

IF THERE HAD NOT BEEN AN UNWARRANTED AND UNPROVOKED

BOMBING OF PEARL HARBOR THERE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ANY

BOMBS DROPPED ON HIROSHIMA OR NAGASAKI.



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