The Surprise Attack Through the Eyes of a Navy Bride
SUNDAY morning, Dec. 7, 1941, at 7:50 a.m., a large explosion woke me up.I was visiting friends Mikelle and Harry Kinnard at their quarters at Schofield Barracks, a short distance from Pearl Harbor, after my husband of two months had gone to sea on the light cruiser, the USS Boise. After realizing that it was not the hot water heater that had exploded, we rushed outside. A low-flying plane came close in over our street and the rising sun insignia stood out plain and clear on the fuselage. Rushing to our quarters, Harry said, "This is it!" He dressed and hurried off to his battle station, telling us to stay inside. Shortly after, a phone call came to inform us that we were to pack a small bag and proceed directly to the men's barracks. To this day, Mikelle teases me about my packing my wedding pictures before anything else. We stayed there all day, wrapping bandages and trying to stay calm. Toward dusk, our orders were to board buses which would take us to Honolulu, past Pearl Harbor. I sat next to a visibly afraid young Japanese girl who was a family maid. The bus crawled down the road with no lights, a private walking ahead with a flashlight. As we came to Pearl Harbor, the the sky was lit up. We could see at least one dogfight in the sky. They deposited us at a school in Honolulu, where the Red Cross gave us blankets. We all slept on the lanai (porch), though very few actually slept. Next day we were told to contact anyone in town with whom we could stay. I found an acquaintance who put some of us up. We lived with blackened windows, a 6 p.m. curfew, and bomb shelters dug in front. Since dependents were to be shipped out if they didn't have essential jobs, Mikelle and I and other Army wives signed up at Fort Shafter on Oahu to become what apparently was the first women's military group to be formed besides nurses. Since radar was so new, there wasn't even a manual written for it. Our job was to man the plotting tables 24 hours a day, six shifts each, plotting all aircraft and ships coming into the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands. My husband, in the meantime, was cruising around in the Pacific in a convoy, wondering about my safety. (And I about his.) It was not until March 31, 1942, that he received word that I was safe. In May, my husband called to give me the good news that the USS Boise was in drydock for repa irs at Mare Island, Calif.