September 22, 2013
The Attack on Pearl Harbor
“I was scared to death.… In four years at sea I sat through seventy eight air attacks, but nothing was as frightening as the attack on Pearl Harbor.”
—John P. Taylor, a sailor in the U.S Navy
On the morning of December 7th, we had just come from the, eating breakfast in the dining hall, walked out in the street, and looked up, and here comes a Japanese plane flying and shooting down through the area, and we stood there watching it, wondering what in the world was going on. We thought maybe it was probably the air corps putting on a little show, since they did that every once in a while. They’d fly around and drop little sacks of flour for bombing practice. And we didn’t know what it was, we could look down south towards Pearl Harbor and Honolulu and we could see a big smoke rising and heard the booms.
Finally, the alarm went off, none of us had ever heard that alarm call before. We didn’t know what it was until somebody said that the Japanese were attacking Pearl Harbor. They said for us to go to the supply office and get our ammunition and then go up to the barracks and get our rifles. So we went down to the supply office to get our ammunition, and the supply office didn’t have any ammunition belts to put the ammunition in. So a lot of us carried eighty rounds, and that was (ten clips of eight rounds apiece). Then we got our rifles. Nobody knew how to put a clip of shells in the rifle, but we did have a few men in the company that had had some training before on those rifles, so those guys showed us how to get that clip into the M-1 rifle and how to get our thumb out of the way so we didn’t smashed our thumbs.
I saw approximately 15 torpedo planes which had come in to the attack from the direction of the Navy Yard. These planes also strafed the ship after releasing their torpedoes. Shortly thereafter there was a dive bomber and strafing attack of about 30 planes. This attack was very determined, planes diving within 500 feet before releasing bombs, about 0900. There were about twelve planes in flight that I saw. The personnel of the anti-aircraft and machine gun batteries on the Arizona lived up to the best traditions of the Navy. I could hear guns firing on the ship long after the boat deck was a mass of flames.
As American soldiers and sailors we tried to find survivors and help the wounded in the wake of the Pearl Harbor attack, they also struggled to prepare for further hostilities with the Japanese. Many military officials believed that the air strike was only the first part of a larger Japanese plan to take over Hawaii. They worried that more planes or even transport ships carrying troops for a land invasion which could have appeared at any…