Second World War: Pearl Harbor Survivors Evacuate
Civilian Pearl Harbor survivors shipped to San Fransisco at the advent of U.S. involvement in the Second World War.
I am one of the Pearl Harbor survivors who lived there at the time of the bombing. This is a short version of my experiences that day, December 7,1941, that led to the U.S. entry into the Second World War.
My husband was attached to a mine layer, the USS Sicard that laid mines in the waters around the islands. He was home two or three days a week.
Tensions had been growing with Japan, but no one suspected what was about to happen so soon. On Saturday, December 6, 1941, we went with our Portuguese neighbors, the Camaras, to spend the weekend in their beach home across Oahu and close to the Kaneoke Naval Air Station. That evening we were entertained by Hawaiian guitar players, who gave us beautiful Hawaiian music that lasted until 1 a.m.
Of course our 7-month-old baby did not sleep late the next morning. While I fed the baby, my husband and Bill Camara turned the radio on. It was so quiet there on that lovely beach. The radio suddenly interrupted the program with an urgent message for all civilian and military personnel to return to their stations immediately. "We are under a sporadic air attack," was being repeated and repeated, and they were saying, "Folks, this is not a joke, but the real thing." The fellows thought it was no doubt a drill and turned the radio off. Just then a Japanese plane, with the rising sun under its wing, flew over us towards the Kaneoke Air Station.
That convinced us it was no joke, so we hurriedly loaded up and headed back to Honolulu. Because the men were not in uniform, we were detained for identification as we crossed the Pali. From there we could see the whole of Pearl Harbor, and our hearts sank! As we drove on, we saw a body being carried from a house that had been strafed, as well as a car that had been hit with the bodies still in it.
It was pandemonium on Dillingham Boulevard, the main street that we lived off of, and we had to run the last two blocks to get to our house. Neither I or my husband could ever remember who carried the suitcase and who carried the baby. Neighbors yelled at us as we ran, with mostly true reports of ships sunk, etc.
No one knew for a while about the terrible devastation and the loss of over 2,000 men. The Japanese did not know how badly they had crippled us. They could have taken the island.
My husband, Iden, quickly got into uniform and went down the street. He was picked up by a policeman and taken to his ship, which was in overhaul, but not hit. I did not see him until Thursday; a detachment from the ship had located all the families on Tuesday.
Martial law was declared immediately, with complete blackout.