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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Pearl Harbor eyewitness wrote essay of the event

  • Over 40 years have passed since America was attacked by the Japanese.
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  • Over 40 years have passed since America was attacked by the Japanese.
    1. My situation in Hawaii.
    2. Excerpts from a letter written to my family describing the events of the first few months following the attack Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941, Honolulu.
    “This will long be a memorable date in the history of these islands and of the U.S.A. as a whole.
    At 8 o’clock this morning I was watching one of the girls bathe the baby (local families loaned a baby to the school where Gentry taught) when we heard the loud firing of guns - not an uncommon sound as the military did much practicing.
    One of the girls who was gathering flowers in the yard came to tell us that she saw fire and smoke out toward Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field (air base).
    It looked so real, yet we couldn’t believe that Oahu could be attacked. However in a few minutes an announcement was made on the radio that we were under enemy attack and a call for all military to report to their bases.
    Other requests: “Don’t use your phone.” “All cars off the street.” “Doctors, firemen, carpenters, and civil service workers” needed at Pearl Harbor.
    The students packed to go home but did not leave until the next day. Senior girls and boys were to remain to help if our buildings were to be used as a hospital.
    Several of our faculty were visiting their sons at Hickam Field and returned to school to report of a hangar and dining room that were hit.
    We saw several ships move out of the harbor but most were burning.
    Some rumors:
    1. Japanese had landed in the mountains at Waikiki Beach.
    2. More attacks - only on the 7th.
    On the 8th of December I wrote Mother a letter.
    On our first night after the blitz we prepared for a lightless night - no light to show.
    The faculty, men and senior boys patrolled the grounds.
    Marshall Law was declared with Lt. General Short in command.
    All schools closed - no large assembly of people as in churches.
    More news reaching us - a number of U.S. planes shot down as they flew in from the mainland.
    I wondered about my friends in the military who had been stationed in Hawaii.
    1. James Dudley on the great aircraft carrier, the Lexington. His ship was at sea.
    2. Ben Helmick on the Honolulu. Met him on the street later.
    3. And the fate of Bert Richmond and Reggie Howard, who had Thanksgiving dinner with the Martins and me a few weeks before.
    Page 2 of 2 - Finally mail came from home, 3,800 bags - gifts and cards.
    Jan. 13. Mainland food, oranges and lemons and some meats getting scarce. By Easter not a candy egg in the 5 & 10, shelves almost bare. The Ag Dept. gave us a big rabbit to eat.
    We are getting out more in the daytime - the beaches are lined with barbwire.
    What we tried to do for the war effort, how the war changed our lives.
    1. Knit. 2. First Aid training. 3. Join Gray Ladies - work in hospital. 4. Helped at U.S.O. 5. Entertained home town boys and others. These men added a great interest to our lives and made us feel helpful to them.
    We were afraid that we might be sent back to the mainland and would have been, if we had not been employed.
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