Pearl Harbor Honor Flight honors those Pearl Harbor Survivors who have passed on by including their stories as related to Jay Carraway, PHSA, Chapter 138, President Emeritus in this page. Each of us has a birth date and a death date that are often separated in writing by a dash (-). That dash represents the actions taken during our lives. These men were heroes “within the dash.”
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Pearl Harbor Honor Flight Remembers
Richard Carter HM3 Medical Office administrative staff
12/30/1921 – 3/19/1995
In December, 1941, I was a 3rd Class Hospital corpsman assigned to the office of Captain Frank Ryan (MC) as his personal secretary. On the morning of 7 December, I was to take over as Brig custodial (it was here that the mental cases were kept, some in cells and some in wards we had for safe keeping. I had charge of the keys and no one could get in or out without my approval). I had taken over at 3:45AM and was due to be relieved at 7:45AM; however, my relief never showed up. I heard an explosion and saw a Japanese Zero come in about fifty feet off the deck, machine gunning on the opposite side of the ward. I knew immediately what was happening, and unlocked the ward, telling all the patients to go below to the basement where the thick concrete walls would protect them. I then went to the front of the hospital and Captain Ryan came running toward me and told me to remain out in front of the hospital and direct the traffic of patients that were brought in, since I knew the battle bill, and knew where minor surgical patients and more serious cases should be taken.
One of the first casualties that came in was a 1st Class Petty Officer, who occupied the same Petty Officer Quarters with me. It was about this time that the first Japanese Zero was shot down and it hit the animal house attached to the laboratory. In those days we had old hand foam carts which we pulled, so three of us grabbed that cart and pulled it around and put out the fire. I picked a little fur boot off the pilot who was killed on impact.
Then the big load of patients started arriving. Worst of all were the burn cases. We filled one ward with these very rapidly. All I can say at this point is I saw what Americans are all about because even those who were hurt badly would tell us to go on to another fellow. We didn’t have syrettes like they have today so we had the pharmacy mix up a big batch of morphine and not having enough needles, we ran out very shortly. We just had to take a chance and reuse them as the men were in shock and pain. That means our sterile technique wasn’t very good. All the staff, including doctors, nurses and corpsmen, worked around the clock for three days. When they became so tired they just had to rest, they laid down on the deck, rested a short time and then returned to their jobs again. Some of the things that happened that night would be unbelievable. That night two of my shipmates and I went to where we had stacked the dead and tried our best to identify them, taking or cutting the rings off, removing watches, etc. We would then load them on a four by four personnel carrier, and take them to the Punchbowl, an extinct volcano to be buried. The Punchbowl is now a National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. It was my duty as Captain Ryan’s secretary to establish direct contact with LCDR Curtis W. Schants (DC) USN to plot and begin the National Cemetery. We had so many bodies that first night and the following day that we had to have a bulldozer dig a long trench to place the bodies in until we could identify and put each in a separate encasement. We just did not have the equipment to handle the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives that day. There were 2403 killed and 1178 wounded.
Pearl Harbor Honor Flight Remembers
8/15/1912 – 7/13/2009
On 7 December, 1941 I was an Aviation Machinist 1st Class and an Enlisted Aviation Pilot assigned to the Naval Air Station, Kaneohe on the island of Oahu. My wife Angie, son Joe and myself were just returning from church, which was located just outside the Naval Air Station. Near the end of church services, my son who was 18 months old, became unruly and I took him outside. A young woman drove up and asked if this was where “she could park your car”. I asked her why she had asked that and she said she had heard on the radio that the island was being attacked by the Japanese and that all cars should “get off the road”. I told her that it was just another Orson Wells story. Just after we left the church we could see aircraft bombing and strafing the Naval Air Station at Kaneohe. Upon arrival at the Main Gate, the marine guard told me not to bring my family on the base. (We lived in base housing). As I recall his exact words were “don’t bring your family in here, can’t you see we’re under attack?” I told my wife to take the car and drive out to the beach and to stay there until she heard from me. I then proceeded to go down to the hanger where our squadron was based. Upon my arrival, I was ushered to the Armory where I was given a 1918 vintage battle helmet, which came in two boxes. One box contained the metal top and the other box contained the helmet liner. I was also given a 30 caliber rifle with ammunition. By the time I got in position and set up, the planes strafed one more time then left the area. We were told to take our white uniforms down to the galley and put them in the coffee urn to dye then brown as white was too conspicuous from the air. My whites were so wet that I had to borrow a marine shirt and trousers to wear.
The Japanese damaged or sunk all our planes so we took the 30 caliber machine guns out of the PBYs and and set up gun emplacements on the hill overlooking the base. We were expecting a return of the Japanese planes; however, none came. At about 10 PM I was told to get some sleep as were going to Ford Island, in Pearl Harbor where we would be assigned to Patrol duty the next day. The morning of December 8th, we were loaded on a bus and transported to Pearl Harbor. We could not believe the devastation. Bodies were piled high, motor launches were drifting about aimlessly, ships were upside down or sunk and there were still fires burning due to the oil on the surface of the water. They patched up the holes in the bottom of the PBYs that they thought we could fly and we left on a 14 hour patrol. The holes in the top of the plane made a sound like blowing into the top of a Coke bottle.
During our patrol, we dropped bombs on what we thought was a Japanese submarine; however, it turned out to be a whale. This was not uncommon and later on a Whale Bangers Club was formed. The floats on the wings would not go up so we flew with them down. On our return to Pearl Harbor we found a bullet in the worm gear for the floats. This had prevented them from operating. When we returned to Ford Island, we had no radio or navigational aids and the harbor was “blacked out.” The only help we had in landing was two neon lights like gun sites and landed safely in the channel. On returning that night we were fired upon by confused American machine gunners. One night alert I was running alongside another person and he disappeared. I found out the next day that he had fallen into a six foot pipe trench and broken his leg.
It was three weeks before I returned to Kaneohe and my family. 19 people were killed aboard Kaneohe Naval Air Station and one Japanese plane crashed and the pilot was killed. He was Lt. Iida, IJN, who was apparently the flight leader. He was buried in an adjacent grave with the other 18. My wife and son attended the funeral.
Pearl Harbor Honor Flight Salutes
I was 19 years old in 1941, a radioman third class, stationed on Ford Island and assigned to VJ-1. I had gone into Honolulu on December the 6th for a University of Hawaii football game. We spent the night in town. On Sunday morning as soon as we realized the base was under attack, we rushed back to Ford Island. There were very few airplanes undamaged after the second wave of attacks, but we found an old utility plane stored in a hanger that was flyable. We were assigned air surveillance, so armed with a Springfield rifle, I got into the back of the JRS-1 to search for Japanese.
My base was Ford Island for the next two years. From there I flew in the Berlin Airlift. I made Chief in five years and continued a career in the Navy working in the space Project Mercury. We monitored and recovered astronauts after their space flights. Retiring in 1972 as a Commander, my family and I moved to Pensacola in 1974. When Jay Carraway set up an organizational meeting for the Pearl Harbor Survivors chapter, I donated the $5.00 necessary to pay the Charter fees and served as Treasurer for several years.
First a bit of background material. I left the farm at Dixon, Illinois to join the Navy in February 1939. Prior to the attack at Pearl Harbor on 7 December, 1941, I had attained the enlisted rating of Metalsmith, 2nd class and was assigned to the Repair Department, and Pipefitter Shop aboard the Destroyer Tender, USS Whitney (AD-4). THe Whitney, with myself as a crew member, had come to Pearl Harbor in 1940 and at the time of the attack was tied up between two buoys approximately one mile off the East end of Ford Island.
The Whitney had five destroyers tied up along her port side. The destroyers were scheduled for two weeks of minor repairs and refurbishing. They had their machinery spaces shut down and were receiving utilities from the Whitney. A quantity of piping and equipment was removed to shops aboard the Whitney for repairs. Our shop crew had worked Saturday to assess labor and material requirement necessary to accomplish the repairs.
As Sunday morning, December 7th, was a day of shore liberty for me, I had gotten up prior to breakfast, (many of the crew had slept in) had breakfast and proceeded to take a shower and get ready to go ashore into Honolulu. While taking my shower, I heard rumbling noises and heard men running and shouting on deck. I left the shower, and with a towel wrapped around me, stepped out on the open deck. On looking toward the Navy Yard, I saw planes flying in all directions and smoke rising from Ford Island and Battleship Row. At that moment, the ship sounded General Quarters and announced “Battle Stations.” I grabbed my trousers, shoes and shirt and ran to my Battle Station with the After Repair Party which was below deck.
By this time the destroyers alongside had started to fire machine guns and soon were firing their heavy anti-aircraft guns. Very soon a message was sent to our repair party to furnish men to move ammunition from the ammunition magazines, located below deck, to our anti-aircraft guns. I was assigned to this party and spent the next hour or more carrying ammunition.
While on deck, I was able to see the battleships burning, the explosions and fires on Ford Island, and seeing in the distance, the smoke from fires at Wheeler Field, the Army Air Force Base. I saw two of the Air Force B-17 bombers that were arriving from the States being chased by Japanese planes and flying at treetop level over the mountains to our East. I saw a Japanese dive bomber come from the East. over Aiea Heights, and dive down thru a rainbow and bomb the battleships. I witnessed the USS Arizona explode in a huge fireball, it was the explosion that broke the battleship’s back and killed her crew.
When the Japanese planes left the area, our repair party was disbanded and we returned to our shops and made repairs in order to get the destroyers back in sailing condition so they could get underway and to sea. By midnight we had all the work in our shop completed and most of the destroyers had departed.
Early Sunday evening we had gone to Battle Stations and it was believed at that time that some incoming planes were Japanese. The word then went out that the incoming planes were our own Navy planes and to “hold your fire.” As they approached Ford Island from the West, someone fired a machine gun with tracer bullets and immediately there was machine gun fire from all directions. There were three planes that flew low over the Whitney, one plane was on fire and I saw him crash into a sugarcane field. The Whitney was struck by several machine gun bullets. Those were the only battle scars received during World War II.
On Monday, 8 December, I was assigned to a Fire and Rescue party. We spent the morning dragging the harbor bottom in the channel between the sunken USS Utah and the USS Curtis for a second Japanese midget submarine. One midget submarine had been hit and sunk in the area and it was believed that a second midget submarine had been sighted. We had no success and returned to the Whitney. We were then sent to Battleship Row to assist anywhere we were needed. The entire area was shocking as there were still smoking fires on some of the ships and the harbor was covered with heavy black fuel oil and debris. We reported to a large tugboat that was in charge of salvage operations and were sent back to the Whitney to get a boat load of oxygen and acetylene to take to the rescue crews at the capsized USS Oklahoma. The rescue crews were cutting holes in the overturned battleship’s hull to rescue men trapped inside the ship. While we were in the area we did not see any men rescued.
Pearl Harbor Honor Flight Remembers
This is how I remember the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. We left Midway Friday morning, December 5, 1941 and flew back to Pearl Harbor, arriving about midnight on Ford Island. Since we had been gone so long they were going to pay us that night and give us all a three-day weekend liberty. I had the duty on Saturday and was going to take off on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. On Sunday morning I had already taken my shower and was getting dressed to go ashore but this was a liberty I never took.
I was an Aviation Metalsmith 2nd class, attached to Patrol Squadron, VP-22. We had spent the past 7 weeks on Midway and Wake Islands. When the attack started, many of the enlisted men were hard pressed to get up due to the previous night’s activities. Once awakened it was difficult for us to believe that we were actually being attacked.
The Japanese came in two waves. There wasn’t much retaliation on the first wave but during the second wave of bombers we were able to retaliate. The Japanese attack destroyed every airplane in our squadron except one.
After the smoke and fire in Pearl Harbor cleared, we had a sort of defenseless feeling and fears of an imminent land invasion spread. But concerns quickly turned to rebuilding our military capabilities.
I have a copy of the Nov. 30, 1941 Gooney Gazette, a newsletter distributed on Midway Island. This particular edition contains an interview with Vincent Sheean, a noted foreign correspondent at the time, in which he noted that the United States was no longer immune from actual physical attack. He said that the US must dismiss the oratory of politicians in isolationist camps and become aware once and for all that the nation was deeply involved in the present world struggle, that the enemy had been declared and there can be no going back.
A week after the interview appeared, Pearl Harbor was attacked and America went to war.
Pearl Harbor Honor Flight Celebrates
Wayne Vickery, USS Oklahoma BB-37
I joined the Navy in 1938 and went to boot camp in Norfolk, VA. After boot camp, I was assigned to the USS Oklahoma BB-37 for duty. In 1939, the fleet moved from the west coast of the United States to Hawaii.
On December 7, 1941, the day the Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, I was aboard the Oklahoma. We were moored outboard of the USS Maryland BB-46 in Pearl Harbor.
The Oklahoma took three torpedo hits almost immediately after the attack began. As she began to capsize, two bombs, from high level bombers, struck the Oklahoma and members of the crew were strafed as they tried to abandon ship. Within twenty minutes after the attack began, the Oklahoma had swung over to Port until halted by her mast touching bottom; her starboard side was above water and a part of her keel was clear. Many of her crew, however, remained in the fight, clambering aboard the Maryland to help serve her anti-aircraft batteries. The bow of the Oklahoma had heaved up with the weight of the stern and then slipped back and went under the water.
I was on the third deck painting lockers when I felt the first explosion. I heard at least three explosions, and then word came over the ship’s announcing system, yelling “This is a real air raid!” I quickly navigated the many passageways and ladders trying to make my way out. On my way I passed a group of sailors who had stopped to pray. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I attempted to snap them out of their apparent shock by yelling, “Pray later, get yourself off the boat.” As I tried to run up the ladder to the main deck the shock of a torpedo hit and the rolling over of the ship knocked the ladder out from under me. Someone passed me a line and I was able to climb up and out to the main deck.By this time, the Oklahoma had already started to roll heavily to port. Once on deck, I noticed that some of the sailors had started to dive off the ship into the water, but they were jumping off on the wrong side. They were jumping to port and the ship was sinking on top of them. All this time I could hear the explosions and the bombs falling. That is when I saw the bombs fall on the USS Arizona BB-39. I sat there on the side of my ship and watched the Arizona explode.
The Oklahoma was rolling over so quickly that the lines that kept us moored to the Maryland had started to snap. Turning to the starboard side of the ship, I quickly sat down and watched sailors jump into the water. Because the water was already heavily coated with oil and debris, they could not see where they were diving and were hitting their heads on the hull of the ship as they dove in. I yelled to everyone, “Stop diving in head first, sit on your butt and slide down the hull.” At that time I did just that and swam away from the ship. After swimming and treading water for what seemed like an eternity, a rescue boat came by and picked me up.
The rescue boat continued to go around the ships, trying to get as many sailors out of the water as possible. Everyone was covered in oil and in a panic. At that time little was known about CPR and mouth to mouth resuscitation. Common sense told us to press their chest in an attempt to get water out of their lungs and get them to breathe. Some we were able to save and some we could not. The rescue boat finally dropped us off at the beach and I quickly ran to the nearest barracks to find clean, dry clothing. In the barracks I ran to the lockers and started breaking them open until I found clothes that would fit. That was when I realized that I was in the Officers’ Quarters.
After the attack, everyone worked diligently to get the base back in operation, the ships repaired and ready to fight. I watched as divers went down on the Oklahoma and their efforts to raise her. I lost everything that was on the ship that day, including the re-enlistment bonus I had received for shipping over the month before.
One of the many lessons learned on that fateful day, both for the people in the United States and those who survived Pearl Harbor, was to always be prepared and never be caught off-guard. Although the events of that day are history to most Americans, we Pearl Harbor Survivors see the pride and patriotism that is displayed at Pearl Harbor reunions and in the eyes of those who survived. Then you get a great sense of gratitude.
Pearl Harbor Honor Flight Salutes
December 7, 1941 changed my life forever. I was a seventeen year old Apprentice Seaman aboard the USS Rigel AR-11, undergoing repairs in the Navy shipyard with several other vessels. The USS St Louis, a heavy cruiser was moored astern of our ship so our view of “Battleship Row” was obscured.
The crew of the Rigel was preparing to muster for quarters at 7:55 AM when the signalman on the bridge screamed “we are under attack” at which time the General Alarm sounded all over the ship. The USS St Louis was attempting to get out of the harbor about 8:00 AM when a bomb fell between the Rigel and the bow of the St Louis, blew the St Louis up out of the water and away from the pier. Some of the mooring lines from each ship broke. The remaining Rigel crew pulled the Rigel back to the pier and cut the mooring lines to the St Louis to enable her to get clear of the pier and the harbor. The USS St Louis cleared the harbor safely.
Part of the Rigel crew, approximately 40 men, were armed with rifles and ordered onto the pier ahead of the ship because there was a pineapple grove overlooking the ship and the possibility of sniper fire.
In the confusion of ammunition exploding, ships keeling over, fire on the water because of oil burning plus all the men struggling in the water, I was unaware that the battleship USS Oklahoma was rolling over and the USS Arizona was sinking. The USS California, Maryland and Tennessee, the three battleships I could see, were settling to the bottom. Their crews were ordered to abandon ship. The battleship USS Nevada got underway but did not clear the harbor as it was stuck at the entrance to Pearl Harbor.
I was assisting getting the small boats off the Rigel, making up boat crews and giving aid to the crews of the battleships. At about 9:20 AM the bombing resumed with high level strafing aimed at anything: people, buildings, ships, etc.
At about 10:20 AM I ended up as part of a motor launch crew, rescuing men from the water and taking them for medical attention, burns being the major problem. The burning oil was approximately one inch thick on the surface of the water.
I was allowed a break after dark and supplied with sandwiches and coffee. I managed about three hours sleep before being ready to go again at midnight. Small boats, in which I was a crew member, continued searching for four days, looking for any survivors. The search actually continued for a couple of weeks. We all worked until exhausted then supplies with sandwiches and coffee and about three hours sleep on the pier, we were ready for another patrol. Everyone was “trigger happy,” shouting and challenging anything that moved. It was two weeks before I returned to the Rigel to take a shower and have a hot meal and some sleep.
The Rigel sustained 254 schrapnel holes from 50 caliber machine guns, fired from the aircraft as they strafed us. The Captain later stated he was impressed with the action of the crew.
Pearl Harbor Honor Flight Remembers
In the month of December, 1941, I was serving in the US Navy as a Radioman 3rd class aboard the submarine tender USS Pelias. On 7 December, 1941, the Pelias was berthed at the Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor at the dock adjacent to the submarine escape training tower.
On the night of December 6th my duty section was assigned the watch in the radio room from midnight to breakfast. After an uneventful watch we were relieved in time to have breakfast in the crews mess hall at approximately 0730. We had just gone through the “chow” line and were sitting down to breakfast when General Quarters was sounded over the P.A. system. This announcement was met with considerable complaints as we assumed it was another drill and would spoil our plans for a quiet Sunday morning. Our attitude quickly changed when another announcement was made stating that this was not a drill and all hands were to man their battle stations immediately.
Since my battle station was in the radio room, I went to the upper decks en-route to my battle station. It was at this time I had a first glimpse of the ships on Battleship Row. It appeared that all or most of them had already received either bomb or torpedo hits. The sky seemed to be full of Japanese planes and smoke from the damaged ships. The torpedo bombers were still making approaches on the battleships and their path took them just astern of our ships.
One Japanese zero plane flew very low along our port side with it’s funs blazing. Fortunately he must have overshot his turn and missed strafing the ship. It was also fortunate that there were no attempts to attack a fuel tank farm on a hillside very close to the ship. If the fuel tanks had been set ablaze there would probably have been no way to stop the fire at that time.
During the short time I was topside, I remember realizing that there was no firing at the attacking planes and they seemed to have everything in their favor. This was due to the fact that all ships apparently had their ammunition lockers secured and had not yet had time to bring the ammunition to the gun stations.
When I entered the radio room I was assigned to man a radio circuit that communicated with all the ships in the harbor. I remember all the confusion of trying to copy radio traffic since so many ships were transmitting at the same time. Most of the messages were sent in plain language without proper radio procedure or identification. This was done in spite of all the drills and practice that had gone on prior to the attack.
After the attack, the Pelias sent boats with rescue teams to pick up survivors and bodies from the water. The crew remaining aboard was kept busy issuing gas masks and survival gear. It seemed like several weeks went by before all the rumors subsided and a degree of normalcy returned.
Pearl Harbor Honor Flight Honors
While attached to Patwing Two, Ford Island, TH, I was assigned to the photo lab in the administration building as a photo striker. On the morning of December 7, 1941, I was in a liberty status and we had planned to sleep in.
When all the commotion began and general quarters was sounded, I got dressed and ran across the street to the photo lab and was met by the Photo Officer who handed me a camera and told me to go up on the roof and start shooting pictures. As I was exiting the access door, two planes came strafing in. Thinking I was secure behind the wooden structure, I soon realized that the bullets could easily penetrate the wood. I then ran to the roof railing and started photographing the carnage. Battleship Row was about 150 yards away. Another photographer was waiting with his camera on the ledge. When asked what he was waiting for, he stated that one of the ships in the dry-docks was about to blow up. Shortly thereafter, the USS Shaw in the dry dock No. 2 blew up and he got his picture.
After shooting pictures in the immediate area, I decided I would have a vantage point atop a near by tower. This gave me a panoramic view of the whole harbor. My next concern was how I was going to get down from there with my camera.
While touring Ford Island I photographed damaged aircraft near the seaplanes ramp. I also discovered that a bomb had been dropped directly into the courtyard of the dispensary.
The most disheartening affect was watching the battleship’s sailors climbing ashore on Ford Island covered in fuel oil and blisters. The photo lab dispensed with processing photography in order to conserve water. The nearby swimming pool was also conserving water by closing the pool.
We were all issued Springfield rifles, helmets and ammunition. It was felt that the Japanese would be sending a landing party ashore. We all remained in the photo lab all night. Shortly after dark, some itchy finger character opened fire. This in turn caused an open barrage with one of the bullets coming through our camera repair windows. It was later learned that a flight of b-17’s were coming in from the states. We were all issued gas masks and had to keep them with us at all times, including while on liberty.
Approximately two weeks after the attack, a special Photo Reconnaissance, Interpretation, Intelligence Center, Pacific Ocean Area was formed between Honolulu and Waikiki. This was established on the second deck of Kodak Hawaii, on Kapolei Blvd. This became my next duty station for the remaining forty-three months of service in the Southwest Pacific.