Dec 7 - Attack on Pearl Harbor

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On Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, veterans think about what could have been
By T.W. BURGER, The Patriot-News
December 07, 2009, 12:00AM

On Dec. 7, 1941, Pvt. Joseph L. Lockard, a 19-year-old from Williamsport, was one of two soldiers manning the brand-new radar station at a hilltop at Opana Point on the northern tip of Oahu.

Radar technology was so new that many in the military command in the region knew little, if anything, about it. To save manpower, the units were manned only four hours per day, and were shut down by 7 a.m.

Lockard, now 87, said he left the unit on after 7 a.m. to allow Pvt. George Elliott some practice. On the screen, where normally an approaching aircraft or two would make a small blip, something was popping up that sent the shimmering light all the way to the top of the glass. "I had never seen anything like that. But that's not unusual, because I never had 180 planes coming at me before," Lockard said.

It was the first wave of what would turn out to be 360 Japanese aircraft, and the beginning of an attack on Pearl Harbor that would bring America into World War II. More than 2,400 U.S. servicemen were killed in the attack, roughly half of those dying aboard the battleship USS Arizona. In all, 18 U.S. ships were sunk or heavily damaged.

The Japanese planes were first detected 137 miles out, near the outer limit of the 150-mile limit at Lockard's radar station.

Lockard called in a warning, but his immediate supervisor was not answering. He called his unit's administrative office, finally reaching a lieutenant. The lieutenant told him not to worry. It was probably a flight of B-17 Flying Fortresses due in that morning from California.

At about 7:45 a.m., Lockard turned off the radar because the truck that was to take them back to their camp had arrived. About 10 minutes later, the first bombs were falling on Pearl Harbor. "We were facing the harbor on the way down, and we could see the big billows of black smoke and knew something had happened," he said.

Lockard eventually became a key witness in panels convened by the military and Congress investigating the attack at Pearl Harbor. He would later be appointed to officer candidate school and earn the Distinguished Service Medal.

He said he is not angry that his warning of the aircraft went unheeded. "If anything, it made me sad," he said.

Lockard figures his part in the events of that "Day of Infamy" comes out to a "what-if" footnote for the history books. "What if it hadn't been a Sunday? What if the Jap planes had left their ships 15 minutes earlier? What if they had taken our warning seriously? They couldn't have gotten the ships out of the harbor, but maybe they could have had the bigger anti-aircraft guns manned and kept the bombers at more of a distance," he said.



Ralph T. Tierno, 86 and living in Carlisle, was 18 years old on that morning long ago. He was a private first class in the U.S. Army, serving with Company A of the 3rd Engineer Battalion on Oahu. He was walking back to his digs from Mass when the attack began.

“It was pretty obvious who they were,” he said. “They hit several infantry quadrangles, looking for the fuel tanks. The basic thing was, we weren’t ready. The night before had been Saturday night after payday, and after dances at the club ... We had radar, but when the kid that was on the radar warned there were aircraft approaching, they told him they thought it was our own planes.”

The following morning, Tierno was on the harbor, manning an anti-aircraft gun. “That was the first time I saw the devastation,” Tierno said. “A battleship, I think it was the West Virginia, rolled over. One of the sounds that is still with me is the sound of all the guys trapped inside beating on the hull.”

Mike Randazzo, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy Naval Support Activity base in Mechanicsburg, is one of the organizers of a memorial program at the state Capitol today to mark the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.

Whenever the U.S has been threatened, Randazzo said, Pennsylvanians have been among the first to answer the call to duty. More than 925,000 sons and daughters of Pennsylvania responded in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, and more than 26,000 of them made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II.

To mark the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, officials at the Naval Support Activity Mechanicsburg will hold a memorial program to honor local survivors. The program is slated to take place at the Capitol East Rotunda in Harrisburg at 12:55 p.m. Monday. Survivors, family members, veterans and the public may attend attend this free event.

© 2009 PennLive.com. All rights reserved.
 

vikram

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Burning battleships Arizona, West Virginia, and Tennessee
In June 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt of the United States moved the American Pacific Fleet from San Diego to Pearl Harbor as a response to Japan's aggression toward China, followed by the embargo of vital raw materials to the newly industrialized Japan. It was meant to put pressure on Japan to ease the aggression on her neighbors, but it instead made Japan to eye the South Pacific with even greater desire: islands rich with oil, rubber, tin, and tungsten. The presence of the American fleet at the center of the Pacific Ocean did not do much to calm the Japanese military, which essentially controlled the government at that point. Instead, it threatened Japan into striking first.

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the commander of the fleet, was tasked with constructing a plan to strike down the American fleet in surprise, crippling the fleet so much that Japan would be able to dominate the Pacific. While Yamamoto truly believed that it was possible to surprise the American Pacific Fleet and destroy all the battleships and carriers with one quick strike, he was an opponent to the idea of attacking the United States. He believed that unless Japan had a way to march her armies straight to Washington DC, it was not wise to engage in war with United States for an extended period of time. Nevertheless, he carried on his duties and devised a plan with his staff. In October 1941, the Japanese naval general staff gave final approval to Yamamoto's general plan of attack. In November 1941, he added Pearl Harbor to the list of targets. Yamamoto's strike plan, with much contribution from Commander Genda, called for fighters, torpedo bombers, and dive bombers from six carriers, in other words it would be the largest air strike the world would have seen to date. The plan called for multiple waves of attack, systematically targeting and destroying specific ships, airfields, aircraft, and drydocks. In order to effectively use torpedoes in the shallow Pearl Harbor, the torpedoes were fitted with fins so that they would run closer to the water's surface without diving into the mud. Yamamoto assigned the task of attacking Pearl Harbor to Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo. A total of 24 vessels supported the six aircraft carriers in its journey from Tankan Bay of Kuril Islands in Japan toward Hawaii via a northern route on 26 November 1941.

Pearl Harbor was a complex body of water on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, which was annexed by the United States in the early 1900s after a need for a navy base in the center of the Pacific arose (actual base construction started as early as 1887 when Hawaii was still under the sovereign of the Hawaiian Kingdom). In 1908, the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard was established, and Schofield Barracks of the Army in 1909. It was one of the largest military bases of the United States at the time WW2 started; less than two years ago it became the base of the Navy's Pacific Fleet, and the Army at this time maintained 43,000 soldiers here. In April 1941 the Army Chief of Staff assured President Roosevelt: "The Island of Oahu, due to its fortification, its garrison, and its physical characteristics, is believed to be the strongest fortress in the world".

When the Japanese fleet departed from the Kuril Islands, Nagumo had ordered any non-Japanese vessel that came in contact with the strike fleet was to be quickly destroyed before they could warn anyone of the attack. On 5 Dec 1941, the situation happened. Packed full with M2 medium tanks and other supplies needed in the war against Germany, the Russian transport Uritsky was en route for the eastern Russian port city of Vladivostok. All guns of the Japanese fleet were trained on the transport, but Nagumo decided not to give the order to open fire, for he knew the top officials at Tokyo wished to maintain the non-aggression pact between Russia and Japan. It was never proven, but some sources indicated that the Uritsky did indeed radio Russian authorities of the finding, and the Russians notified the Japanese fleet that if Uritsky was to be spared, Russia would not report the incident to anyone, namely, the United States. Had this exchange really taken place, it appeared that both sides held their ends of the bargain; Urtisky arrived at Vladivostok safely, while the Japanese fleet sailed otherwise undetected across the Northern Pacific. Some speculated that the Russian silence might be due to Moscow's wish for the United States to enter WW2, thus eliminate Japan as a threat on Russian Siberia.

On 7 Dec 1941, the first contact was made by United States Coast Guard ship Condor at 0350 less than 2 miles southwest of the Pearl Harbor entrance buoys. After receiving visual warning from Condor at 0357, USS Ward began patrolling the harbor entrance. At 0637, Ward sighted the periscope of a Japanese submarine. Ward attacked the area with depth charges as destroyer USS Monaghan set sail to join her in the submarine hunt. At 0740, a telephone call was made to the office of United States Navy Pacific Fleet commanding officer Admiral Husband Kimmel to notify the submarine contact; by that time. In hindsight, it was the last chance for the Americans to prepare against the attack, but to Kimmel's defense, he had not been give many clue what was to come.

Just before 0800, the Japanese aircraft arrived over Hawaii. When the mass of dots appeared on the American radar screens, it was thought that they were friendly bombers coming in from the mainland. At 0755, the now-well-known message "ENEMY AIR RAID - NOT DRILL" was sent from the Navy Yard Signal Tower. As that message was sent, Japanese torpedo bombers were already lining up to battleship row.

The first targets were air fields. At 0755, Japanese dive bombers dropped bombs (mainly incendiary) and strafed Hickam Field and the Naval Air Station on Ford Island. Many American aircraft were caught on the ground, unable to take off to take off to meet the attackers in the air. At 0758, "AIR RAID, PEARL HARBOR. THIS IS NOT DRILL!" was broadcast to all ships in the area. Nearly simultaneously, another group of attack aircraft attacked the battleships moored on the south side of Ford Island in the center of Pearl Harbor. The torpedoes and bombs hit with precision. The most spectacular hit was the armor piercing bomb that exploded deep within the belly of the battleship USS Arizona, which ignited the forward ammunition magazine, engulfing the ship in a fierce ball of fire. Anti-aircraft machine gun fire commenced very quickly after Japanese aircraft were sighted, while larger caliber weapons took anywhere from three to seven minutes before they began firing. At 0812, the Pacific Fleet received word that "HOSTILITIES WITH JAPAN COMMENCED WITH AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR", but it was no news to those present.

Between 0825 and 0840, Japanese aircraft continued to dominate the skies over Pearl Harbor, although bombing activities largely ceased.

At 0840, 30 Japanese horizontal bombers appeared, mostly still targeting battleships, supported by 18 dive bombers. Damage from this attack was reported as "serious".

With careful planning on part of Yamamoto and his staff, and perfect execution of Nagumo and his air command, the surprised Americans suffered greatly. More than 90 ships were present at Pearl Harbor, and few larger warships escaped unharmed. Battleship USS West Virginia sank very quickly, while the USS Oklahoma turned over before sinking. The 0810 bomb hit on USS Arizona previously mentioned took the lives of 1,000 sailors. Battleships California, Maryland, Tennessee, and Nevada all suffered various degrees of damage during the raid. At 0830, the Nevada attempted to get underway, but realized if she was sunk at the harbor opening, it would disable the base for months to come; USS Nevada's captain changed his mind of fleeing the harbor, and changed course to beach the ship at Hospital Point.

By 0940, most Japanese aircraft had left the vicinity, but American anti-aircraft fire continued to fire at any sign of hostile movement; tense atmosphere led to a few friendly fire incidents where American fighters that finally got a chance to take off were shot down. By 1000, the skies over Pearl Harbor were clear. Final tally revealed that five of eight battleships at Pearl Harbor were sinking, sunk, disabled, or heavily damaged. A total of 21 American ships were sunk. 188 aircraft were destroyed, and 159 were damaged. Over 2,400 American were killed (this figure includes civilian deaths of 68 caused by friendly fire: American anti-aircraft shells were landing in the city of Honolulu), with minimal Japanese casualties (29 planes shot down and 6 midget submarines lost).

In hindsight, the Americans could had been more vigilant, therefore the ships might possibly be able to sortie out of the harbor so that they would have a fighting chance. However, it should also be noted that had they sortied, and if the Japanese were to still have won the battle, the American ships would be sunk in deep water where they would be lost forever. As actual history had turned out, the five battleships sunk in the harbor during the attack were sunk in shallow water, allowing them to be raised, repaired, and underway to fight the Axis powers merely months later.
 

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The United States was lucky that the aircraft carriers were not in port. Admiral William Halsey and the Enterprise were en route back to Pearl Harbor after delivering fighters to Wake Island. Rear Admiral Newton was en route with the Lexington toward Midway Atoll, delivering 25 scout bombers. And finally, the Saratoga left Pearl Harbor for maintenance in the continental United States. The carriers were among the primary objectives to destroy in Yamamoto's plan.

While the attack on Pearl Harbor took place, a Japanese detachment near Philippines were preparing to launch an invasion force on American bases at Philippines, starting the Japanese advance toward the South Pacific.

On the diplomatic side, Japan was supposed to declare war on the United States at precisely 30 minutes before the attack started. However, due to decryption difficulties, the Japanese embassy was not able to deliver the message until the attack had already started. President Roosevelt took advantage of the sequence of events, and marketed the concept that the attack was a unprovoked sneak attack, and used that marketing concept to rally the previously isolationist Americans into war against the Axis powers.

Blame for the total surprise of the attack was placed on the shoulders of Admiral Husband Kimmel and Lieutenant General Walter Short, the top commanders at Pearl Harbor at the time. The attack on Pearl Harbor faced nine investigations, with the conclusion of dereliction of duty by Kimmel and Short. The United States Senate cleared their names in 1999, after both commander's deaths, but to this day the Department of Defense continue to lay blame on these two scapegoats.

Sources: Armchair Reader World War II, The Pacific Campaign, US Army-Pacific, US Navy Naval Historical Center, US Navy Report of Japanese Raid on Pearl Harbor, Wikipedia.
 

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BY KATIE DUNN
Times regional staff

JEFFERSON — Vernon Carter still remembers seeing the smiling face of a Japanese pilot as the attack on Pearl Harbor unfolded the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.

Carter, who was stationed at Hickam Field in Hawaii with the U.S. 7th Army Air Corps, awoke at 8 a.m. that day to a war zone outside his barracks.

"‘I jumped up and looked out towards Pearl Harbor and saw the dive bombers diving at the big oil storage tanks. Several of them went up in flames and smoke,’" Carter said, reading from a letter he wrote to his parents, J.Z. and Nora Carter, soon after the attack.

"We had two raids, about a half an hour apart, the first was Pearl Harbor, (and) the second was Hickam Field."

As he hurriedly tried to get to his office, Carter, who was 21 at the time, said a Japanese plane flew toward him,
buzzing the barracks.

"I backed up under the eave of the barracks, and of course he wasn’t trying to shoot me, but as he went by, just barely over the top of the barracks, he looked down and grinned at me," Carter said.

Today marks the 68th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor — the day that President Franklin D. Roosevelt said "will live in infamy," and the event that propelled the U.S. into World War II.

Carter, 90, said there are only an estimated 100 Pearl Harbor survivors still alive today in Georgia. And, as far as Carter knows, he is the only living survivor in Jackson County.

Japan’s aerial assault, now well-documented in an untold number of history books, began shortly before 8 a.m. and ended less than two hours later.

In that time, 2,403 Americans lost their lives, including 68 civilians, while another 1,178 were injured, according to U.S. Department of Defense records.

Twenty-one of the U.S. Pacific fleet’s ships were either sunk or damaged in the attack, and 188 aircraft were destroyed and 159 damaged, according to records.

The memory of that morning — the unmistakable hum of aircrafts overhead, bombs falling, engulfing Pearl Harbor in a fiery deluge, and the sight of his comrades dying — remains with Carter.

As reminders, a Pearl Harbor survivor license plate and war medals adorn a wall in Carter’s home near downtown Jefferson.

He joined Jefferson’s American Legion Albert Gordon Post No. 56 in 1946 and also joined a local Pearl Harbor survivors club, where he marched in parades in Atlanta and Gainesville, bearing a banner that read "Pearl Harbor Survivors."

A letter Carter wrote home to his parents, dated Dec. 7, 1941, is perhaps the most telling account of his experience in Hawaii.

The letter, penned in cursive writing, describes the horror that Carter and others endured that day on Hickam Field.

Last week, at the urging of his wife, Ruth, Carter reread the letter he sent home so many years ago.

"‘The dead was piled all around. Some of the boys in the barracks were blown to pieces, they couldn’t identify them,’" he read from the letter to his parents. "‘It was so quick, we didn’t know what happened.’"

Carter’s letter also notes that a shell crashed through his room, just 3 feet from his bed, and the closest bomb fell 500 yards from him. Hickam Field, he wrote, was "pretty well wrecked."

"We had our planes lined up side by side and we thought that maybe that’d protect them from sabotage, but of course the Japanese planes came in just barely over the top of the runway there and they destroyed our planes and started bombing the hangars and barracks," he said.

The attack happened not long after Carter arrived in Hawaii. Knowing he was going to be drafted, Carter voluntarily joined the U.S. Army Air Corps to avoid the infantry.

The lifelong Jefferson resident was sent to Hawaii in June 1941 and remained in the Hickam Field Ordnance, stationed at the Army Air Corps’ Hickam Field, for four years.

Immediately following the attack, Carter said U.S. forces remained on edge, anticipating another assault.

"It was several days before we realized that maybe they weren’t coming back," he said.

And while he can no longer attend reunions with other Pearl Harbor survivors, there is a good chance that today his thoughts may drift back to that morning.

"Anybody that was over there, I’m sure they will never forget that day and what they saw," he said. "It don’t leave, it just don’t leave you."
 

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Waller County man recalls the attack on Pearl Harbor

The USS California begins to list early during the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on Dec. 7, 1941. Waller County resident Ed Halcrow was serving aboard the California at the time. She ship was later raised, refurbished and returned to duty in the war.
Waller County News Citizen
By Joe Southern
Published: 12.06.09
It was only two hours of his life and most of that time all Ed Halcrow could do is wait and watch as the world blew up around him. The Waller County resident served aboard the USS California when it was sunk by the Japanese in Pearl Harbor that fateful morning of Dec. 7, 1941.

“It was a good ship and you speak with reverence when you talk about her,” Halcrow said, thinking back to that day 68 years ago that changed his life and the world forever.

Although he was a signalman at the time, his battle station aboard the California was in the lower loading room under the third gun turret.

“A big gun like that is useless in the harbor when you’re shut in,” he said.

Unable to fire at the enemy, the crews just waited for orders.

“We were sitting there waiting to blow up,” Halcrow recalled.

Now 86 years of age, Halcrow was 17 when he enlisted in the Navy on Dec. 6, 1940.

“It was a year and a day before Pearl Harbor,” he said.

Halcrow was born and raised in California and his mother, when she was a child, helped collect pennies for a milk fund for the crew of the USS California so they could buy fresh milk whenever they made port.

“As a Californian on the California, I wanted the California … We were proud that I got on the vessel,” he said.

Having finished boot camp in San Diego, Halcrow was assigned to the destroyer, which was in Washington State at the time. He and his future shipmates were shipped there on the aircraft carrier Enterprise, via a stop in Pearl Harbor.

“The Navy wouldn’t pay for the train fare,” he said.

On the way from Pearl Harbor to Washington, Halcrow came down with the measles. He was placed in the contagious ward, where another man convinced him that signalmen got paid the best rate in the Navy. During the trip, a severe storm battered the Enterprise, causing “tens of thousands of dollars of damage to the vessel.”

Halcrow spent about six months on the California before getting a 10-day leave in San Francisco to see family before sailing for Hawaii. Once they reached Pearl Harbor, Halcrow got caught in the first wave of a diarrhea epidemic that swept the fleet. He was in the infirmary when the call came out for volunteers to be signalmen. He signed up from his hospital bed.

“I got accepted but I didn’t go through my division leader. They got all bent out of shape because I didn’t go through the chain of command,” he said. “I was transferred to the signal gang with the provision that I maintain my battle station in the powder room.”

On the Sunday morning of Dec. 7, Halcrow had just come off watch and was assigned to assist the mess cook. He had just finished clearing dirty dishes and was headed to the quarterdeck when I saw planes coming in.

“I could see them drop things and they blew up. I could see a second wave come and they dropped things. They dropped the second ones before I realized the first bombs had blown up,” Halcrow recalled.

He immediately went to battle stations. Once there he could do nothing but listen to reports and wait for orders. As he sat in the powder magazine, the California took four torpedo hits.

After two hours, as the attack was ending, the California was sinking and the order given to abandon ship. The men were brought topside, told to remove their shoes and jump overboard and swim for Ford Island 150 feet away.

Once ashore, Halcrow headed to muster with the rest of the signalmen when a lieutenant took him in a Jeep to a road near a hospital. He was to guard the road and order all medical personnel he met to report to the hospital. He was finally relieved of the guard duty 24 hours later. He went to the hospital to find a place to sleep. All they had was a bloody mattress and that was fine for a couple hours.

Because he failed to muster with the rest of his crew, the Navy sent his mother a letter saying he was missing in action.

Within days Halcrow was stationed aboard the USS Astoria. He served aboard her through several battles until the cruiser was sunk Aug. 9, 1942, in the Battle of Savo Island. Halcrow had been wounded by shrapnel in the back of his neck and head and he was evacuated aboard the Bagley.

In all, Halcrow served on 29 different ships and stations before the war ended. He served five years, 11 months and five days total.

After the war, Halcrow tried his hand as a salesman but eventually joined the border patrol. He was stationed in Laredo on Dec. 5, 1949. He later transferred to Houston, where he met his wife, Versia. “And we’ve been fighting ever since,” he joked.

“I was worse than Pearl Harbor,” she added.

They’ve been married 57 years and had four children. Long retired, they run some cattle in rural Waller County.

Though he has a license plate on his car identifying him as a Pearl harbor survivor, he never did put in to receive any of the medals he earned. “They don’t mean a lot to me,” he said.

What matters more to him was watching two of his sons go into the Navy and serve on destroyers.

“My crowing achievement was that I had two sons that went into the Navy and did four years each,” he said.

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