USS West Virginia veteran Aaron "Red" Bagley's version of the events at Pearl Harbor
Aaron M. Bagley, Quartermaster. On 7th December 1941 I was a
Quartermaster striker aboard the USS West Virginia BB48, usually referred to
as the WeeVee. I went came aboard the WeeVee when she was in Bremerton
Washington, Mare Island shipyard. My first assignment was First Division.
Somehow Jack O'neill, quartermaster discovered that I wasn't really happy in
the deck force, and fortunately they needed a couple of sailors for the N
Division. I found I hadn't taken kindly to holy stoning, or being captain of
the head, side cleaning in a punt, and being Captain of the "punt," for side
cleaning. Being transferred from the First division was the best thing that
could have happened because now my battle station would be on the bridge and
not several decks below in the powder room.
Now and then I pause to reflect on just how lucky I was Dec. 7th for
when the bugle sounded "Away Fire and Rescue Party," I was on my way to the
bridge to muster, but immediately the call was sounded for GQ. At first we
thought it was a drill, but as I worked my way up the ladders the word came
over the PA system loud and clear, "This is no Drill!!! As I moved forward
and up the ladders on the port side we were hit with either a bomb or torpedo
and the ship immediately took a list to port. I had to go back down the
passage way to the starboard side and as I climbed up through a hatch another
torpedo struck the ship, and we rocked and rolled a bit. It seemed no one
panic, and the men kept on going to their battle stations. I was back to the
port side violating the rules, "up starboard, down port," but the portside
was the only way I could move. Water on the second deck had began coming in
through the ports when the small group I was with were order to close all
hatches and ports. When I reached main deck forward some officer, I think it
was the navigator came along and ordered some of us to start bring up dead
and wounded from first deck. They were covered with oil and difficult to
handle but we had some other guys come along and relieved us. We then were
put to work moving the men into motor launches coming along side. We loaded
the dead and wounded into the launch and it was quite easy since our bow was
almost underwater. I ended up at the Subbase, and then on to Block Arena.
Dec. 7th early Sunday morning I was up and getting ready to go ashore.
Usually when Wally Morgan, Frank Majecka, and I were going to hit the beach
the best looking ship shape sailor would depend on who got to the lockers
first, and grabbed a hat et. We were the three musketeers.
By the time I was ready to head up the ladders from steering aft and
make it to the gangway the bugler sounded "Away Fire and Rescue Party."
While I was heading up the ladder to muster the Bugler sounded GQ. This
changed my intentions and I started toward the bridge, but getting topside
and ducking behind the bulkheads I managed to get to the focal, and that's
where I remained to help out anyway I could. We loaded the dead and wounded
into motor launches coming alongside. The ship was sitting on the bottom so
we only had to step out into the launches. When through I took a motor
launch to Sub Base, and eventually ended up at Block Arena. There I made
contact with Wally Morgan and Zeke, and we three ended up on the USS New
Orleans CA32, heavy cruiser.
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