Chapter II
Assignment Paradise: Bomber Command

"Hickam Field . . . this magnificent air base, which is destined to be, when completed, not only the most important unit of aerial defense within the Hawaiian Department, but the largest airdrome in this broad land of ours."

Capt H. B. Nurse, Quartermaster Corps
(Air Corps News Letter, 1 July 1938)

During the 1930s, the thousands of young men who joined the military service and sailed to the Hawaiian Islands for duty considered themselves fortunate indeed to receive such a choice assignment. They enjoyed the beautiful beaches, lush foliage, and year-round pleasant climate that characterized "the Paradise of the Pacific" but, at the same time, they also served as the first line of defense for the United States. Because of its strategic geographical location, Hawaii played a key role in defense plans for the Pacific; and Army Air Forces personnel stationed on the island of Oahu supported those plans as members of either the bomber command or fighter command in the Hawaiian Air Force.1

Hickam Field

Hickam Field, the bomber base, was named in honor of Lt Col Horace Meek Hickam, a distinguished and highly esteemed Army Air Corps officer who died at Fort Crockett, Texas, in an aircraft accident on 5 November 1934. It was the nation's largest air base at the time and the showplace of the Hawaiian Department. Army officials, congressmen, and ordinary taxpayers who visited this modern installation were impressed with its potential power and beauty, and left with the feeling that their money had been well spent.2

Before Hickam's construction, Army flying activities operated from Luke Field on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor. Constructed in 1918, Luke Field, because of its isolation, soon had one of the most complete post exchanges in the territory, a

Lt Col Horace Meek Hickam (1885-1934)
Lt Col Horace Meek Hickam (1885-1934)


large and well equipped officers' club, one of the best gymnasiums on Oahu, several hangars, a theater, tennis and handball courts, family quarters, and many other buildings. Shared by Army and Navy installations, Ford Island became overcrowded in the mid-1930s; to solve the problem, the Navy took over the entire island, including Luke Field, and the War Department found a nearby tract for Army aviation.3

The site selected to become Hickam Field consisted of 2,200 acres of ancient coral reef, covered by a thin layer of soil, located between Oahu's Waianae and Koolau mountain ranges. The Pearl Harbor channel marked its western boundary, with Pearl Harbor naval reservation stretching along its northern perimeter, John Rodgers Airport to the east, and Fort Kamehameha on the south. A tangled jungle of algaroba (kiawe) and sugar cane covered the area, providing a haven for mongooses and mynah birds. Along the shore of the Pearl Harbor channel, the plantation village of Watertown spread its shacks among scattered palm and royal poinciana trees.4

Capt Howard B. Nurse of the Quartermaster Corps planned, designed, and supervised the construction of Hickam Field, which was to be the home station of not only a bombardment wing but also an air depot capable of accomplishing all the major overhaul work required by Army Air Forces units in Hawaii. The first task confronting him was clearing the land and demolishing the decrepit shanties of Watertown. Next, contracts were let for hangars and other buildings, tons of construction material began pouring in by land and sea, and the air soon filled with the noise of riveting hammers and the rhythmic thud of pile drivers. This mammoth construction project extended over several years and gave employment to many people.5

Luke Field on Ford Island, 30 October 1930, with Keystone LB-5 bombers on the right and Thomas Morse O-19 observation planes to the left.


Aerial view of what was originally known as Tracts A and B
Aerial view of what was originally known as Tracts A and B, acquired on 3 April 1935 at a cost of $1,095,543.78 for the construction of Hickam Field.

While construction was still in progress, an initial cadre of 12 enlisted men, commanded by 1st Lt Robert Warren, moved from Luke Field to Hickam with four airplanes on 1 September 1937. Lieutenant Warren became Hickam's first commanding officer, forming with his men the nucleus of what was later designated as the 17th Air Base Group, the unit responsible for furnishing base services and support.6

The 18th Wing, Air Corps (former 18th Composite Wing), at Fort Shafter was the first to relocate to Hickam. Then the exodus of people and aircraft began from Luke Field. Initial plans called for personnel to move as new buildings were completed for them at Hickam; however, the sudden transfer of part of the Pacific Fleet to Hawaii and approval of a $2,800,000 expansion program for the Navy's air station on Ford Island forced Army Air Corps units to leave on short notice. By 31 October 1939, the last troops had departed Luke Field except for the Hawaiian Air Depot, which remained until October 1940 when the new air depot was completed at Hickam.7

All of the Luke Field facilities that could possibly be moved were transported to Hickam. Even the gym and basketball court were dismantled and transferred in sections, as were supply huts, the noncommissioned officers' club, chapel, theater, and housing units for enlisted personnel. They were loaded on the ferry Manuwai, carried across the Pearl Harbor channel, and turned over to crews at Hickam Field for reconstruction.8


Map: Hickam Field, 26Nov41
Hickam Field, 26Nov41


On 1 November 1940, with activation of the Hawaiian Air Force at Fort Shafter, bombardment and pursuit units became organized into separate wings--the 18th Bombardment Wing (Heavy) at Hickam Field and the 14th Pursuit Wing at Wheeler. The next day, on 2 November 1940, Maj Gen Frederick L. Martin assumed command of the new Hawaiian Air Force, which later became known as the "Pineapple Air Force." The headquarters subsequently relocated from Fort Shafter to Hickam Field in July 1941. Units of the bombardment wing at Hickam were the 5th and 11th Bombardment Groups (Heavy), with the 23d, 31st, and 72d Bomb Squadrons and 4th Reconnaissance Squadron assigned to the 5th Bomb Group and the 26th and 42d Bomb Squadrons and 50th Reconnaissance Squadron assigned to the 11th. Other organizations at Hickam Field included the 17th Air Base Group, Hawaiian Air Depot, 19th Transport Squadron, and 58th Bombardment Squadron (Light), as well as maintenance companies and various service detachments.9

'Pineapple Soldier' at Hickam Field, June 1942
"Pineapple Soldier" at Hickam Field, June 1942. (Allan Gunn)

Pending the completion of barracks under construction at Hickam Field, enlisted personnel lived in 50-man tents in a temporary "Tent City" erected near the hangar line. The large tents had wooden sides and floors under the canvas roofs and were equipped with steel lockers and showers. In addition, there were separate kitchen, mess hall, and dayroom tents, the last of these replete with radios, easy chairs, and modernistic smoking stands. The men were relatively comfortable in these temporary accommodations but looked forward to moving into permanent buildings. A dispute in 1938, however, between the Air Corps and the Hawaiian Department's Quartermaster Construction Division over design of Hickam Field's barracks delayed work on the urgently needed troop housing. The Air Corps wanted individual barracks spread throughout the area, while the Quartermaster Corps, to save construction costs, wished to build one huge structure. In the end, the Quartermaster Corps won, and construction finally began early in 1939.10

The Robert E. McKee Company submitted a low bid of $1,039,000 to build the massive new multi-winged barracks that faced the parade ground. The three-story reinforced concrete structure was designed to house 3,200 men, and Hickam personnel began moving in to their new home in January 1940 while construction was still in progress. By the time the last coat of white paint had been applied and the project announced as completed on 30 September that same year, the barracks was fully occupied. It was the largest single structure


Tent City as seen from the control tower at Hickam Field in 1939

Above, Tent City as seen from the control tower at Hickam Field in 1939. Here the troops lived until permanent barracks could be constructed for them. (Clifford E. Hotchkiss)

Below, Hickam Field's huge new million-dollar barracks, with Hangars 3-5 and 7-9 in the background, 22 October 1940.

Hickam Field's huge new million-dollar barracks


An interior view of the new barracks

Above, an interior view of the new barracks (sometimes referred to as the "Hickam Hotel--under management of Uncle Sam"). Open bay sleeping quarters contained long lines of neat, orderly bunks made up with "white collars" for inspection.

Below, this huge mess hall, located in the center of the consolidated barracks, fed thousands of hungry enlisted men daily.

Huge mess hall, located in the center of the consolidated barracks


of its kind on any American military post and included within its walls every possible convenience--two barber shops, a medical dispensary manned by a trained staff 24 hours a day, a tailor shop and laundry, a branch post exchange where small items could be purchased, and a dayroom for every squadron occupying the barracks. The sleeping bays each contained neatly made beds for about 50 men, with foot lockers for toilet articles and larger wall lockers where uniforms and civilian clothing were kept. Famous movie star Dorothy Lamour, taken on a tour of the barracks during a visit to Hickam Field, remarked, "Why I never dreamed that men could keep things so neat!"11

The entire barracks centered around a huge consolidated mess hall, with all nine wings connected to it by a series of hallways. Resembling a gigantic hangar, the mess hall could easily accommodate six regulation-size basketball courts. It had the capability of seating and feeding 2,000 at one time. With trays in hand, the tan-clad enlisted men moved along the cafeteria-style line, which included four 40-foot steam tables to keep the food warm. White-uniformed food handlers dished out ample portions of everything on the menu, and personnel ate at the 104 ten-man tables which occupied most of the 26,741 square feet of floor space. Palm trees brightened up the interior of the mess hall, with potted ferns adorning the pillars and paintings of various squadron insignia hanging on the walls. The amount of groceries required daily to feed the hungry troops was staggering--a ton of meat, half a ton of potatoes, 800 pounds of bread, 15 cases of eggs, 100 pounds of butter, and an average of 400 pies. A crew of nearly 200 men working in shifts around the clock was required to operate the facility.12

Enlisted men who could not be accommodated in the big barracks made their home in "Splinter City," a group of newly constructed temporary wooden barracks located across the street on the other side of the parade ground. Unmarried officers lived near the Officers' Club in bachelor officer quarters (BOQs) furnished with steel cots. One of the BOQ residents was 2d Lt Denver D. Gray of the 17th Air Base Group. "In a tropical climate it was thought necessary only to screen windows and protect them by overhanging eaves to keep out the rain," he said. "New construction on the base kept the red dust stirred, and my bed had a dusty covering each evening. I bought a roll-down wicker shade from Sears Roebuck for the windows, which partially solved the problem."13

Married officers and senior noncommissioned officers enjoyed the luxury of living with their families in spacious stucco houses with red tiled roofs and wide overhanging eaves surrounded by attractively landscaped grounds. Rising above the residential area was the base's landmark-- a beautiful concrete tower of Moorish design enclosing a 500,000-gallon steel tank holding an emergency reserve of water. It was a considerable improvement over the familiar ugly tank of bare black steel usually seen on other military posts. Between the water tower and the hangar line was the business and shopping center, which included the hospital, administration building, exchange, and post office. Recreational facilities scattered throughout the area included the gym, theater, tennis courts, swimming pools, and baseball fields. With its broad tree-lined boulevards, street lighting and telephone systems, fire department, public school, and other community facilities, Hickam Field resembled an attractive little city.14


The wooden barracks of 'Splinter City' at Hickam Field, 1940-1941

Above, the wooden barracks of "Splinter City" at Hickam Field, 1940-1941. (Bernard C. Tysen)

Below, family quarters at Hickam Field, 1940-1941. (Bernard C. Tysen)

Family quarters at Hickam Field, 1940-1941


Hickam's beautiful moorish-style water tower
Hickam's beautiful moorish-style water tower, at the base of which was a nursery where thousands of tree seedlings and shrubs were propagated to beautify the post.


In the operational center of the base, five immense double hangars lined up along a paved landing mat that looked like a modified letter "A" stretching its length for nearly a mile. Along the street by the hangars was a railroad track which connected Hickam Field with the busy port of Honolulu nine miles away. The railway and street extended past the huge air depot building and shops, continuing beyond rows of warehouses and ending abruptly on a concrete dock where large oceangoing freighters discharged their cargo of supplies. On one side of the dock, a boathouse sheltered high-speed power boats used on rescue missions that included anything from Army or Navy planes forced down in the ocean to capsized commercial or private fishing boats. "The Biggest Little Navy in This Man's Army" was the term applied to Hickam's fleet of five crash boats and the 28 enlisted men who operated them. Although they were all Army personnel, the men resembled sailors because of their duty uniforms (light blue shirts and blue bell-bottom dungarees), which were very similar to the Navy's but looked like a strange hybrid with their Army stripes and insignia. Nautical experience was a requirement for these Army sailors, who trained until they could board their vessels and get under way within three minutes after the boathouse siren sounded an alarm.15

More conventional jobs at Hickam Field ran the gamut from those of the Commanding General, Hawaiian Air Force, and his senior staff, to pilots, engineers, medical

Bishop Point dock at Hickam Field
Bishop Point dock at Hickam Field, which not only handled supplies off-loaded by oceangoing freighters but also had a pipeline through which deep-laden tank ships pumped fuel to distant underground storage tanks. Railroad tracks are visible at left, with a boathouse for rescue vessels on the right.


personnel, firemen, mechanics, photographers, clerks, drivers, strikers (enlisted aides), and many others. Assigned personnel reported to the various headquarters and support units which carried out the detailed work of operating a complicated bomber base like Hickam. The bomber command headquarters (18th Bombardment Wing) had the tactical responsibility of launching aircraft on patrol and alert missions, while the post headquarters of the 17th Air Base Group commander handled administrative requirements and provided supervision for the mechanics, shop workers, and other personnel who ensured the safe and efficient flying of the big bombers.16

Because technical schools on the mainland were unable to provide sufficient skilled specialists to meet the needs of the greatly expanding Hawaiian Air Force, military officials established schools at both Hickam and Wheeler Fields in 1939. The school at Hickam specialized in training aviation mechanics and armorers, while the Wheeler school provided radio instruction and clerical studies. Hickam later set up a clerical school of its own to meet the mounting demand for "white-collar" personnel to handle the Army's vastly increased paperwork. For the hundreds of young men who received technological education at these schools, it was an opportunity to "earn while you learn." School standards were high and the courses difficult, with a failure rate of about 25 percent. For those completing all course requirements, graduation day was a big event, with each man anxiously waiting to receive the parchment diploma certifying that he had attained "the proficiency required by the United States Army standards of achievement."17

Post headquarters at Hickam Field, 1940-1941
Post headquarters at Hickam Field, 1940-1941. (Bernard C. Tysen)


Diploma awarded to PFC Herbert J. Kelly for successful completion of the Aircraft Mechanics course at Hickam Field, 5 June 1940
Diploma awarded to PFC Herbert J. Kelly for successful completion of the Aircraft Mechanics course at Hickam Field, 5 June 1940


At the Hickam Field Technical School, located in one of the hangars, each week brought a new class of 23 students to the mechanics course and every other week a new class of 13 armorers. They attended daily lectures, averaged two hours of study each night, then took oral and written tests on the previous day's lecture. In addition, they received practical experience by working as actual members of maintenance and combat crews before graduating 12 weeks from the date of entry. The school also provided refresher courses or specialized instruction in propellers, hydraulics, and instruments, for crew chiefs, armorers, and other mechanics. This schooling proved its worth as flying schedules increased and more airplanes joined the Hawaiian Air Force's air armada.18

The mechanics were a familiar sight on the Hickam flight line, in gray-green coveralls smeared with grease, performing scheduled inspections, daily checks, engine changes, and all but the most major repairs to airplanes and their engines. Major work--reconditioning, overhaul, modifications, and technical changes--on assigned aircraft and aeronautical equipment was the responsibility of Hickam's Hawaiian Air Depot. Col Harry G. Montgomery, the depot commander, had a small staff of officers to help him manage the work of an all-civilian force consisting of personnel hired from the local community or recruited from the mainland, plus a number of former enlisted members.19

In addition to the skilled work of trained technicians, the labor of enlisted members on "fatigue detail" was essential to the smooth operation of the base. Unappealing jobs such as post maintenance (keeping lawns trimmed, buildings cleaned, etc.) and the always unpopular KP duty fell in this category, and assigned personnel did their best to avoid them. First sergeants

Members of Aircraft Mechanics Graduation Class 2A
Members of Aircraft Mechanics Graduation Class 2A pose in front of a Douglas B-18 at Hickam Field, 5 June 1940. (Herbert J. Kelly)


were known to resort to trickery to get the men required for such base details. In one instance reported, the "top kick" lined up his people and asked all those who could do shorthand to fall out. Expecting to be assigned to office work, a number of them stepped forward. The first sergeant then turned to the corporal and said, "March these men to the mess hall. We are shorthanded on KPs this morning!"20

First sergeants, with the distinctive diamond design at the center of their chevrons, were the top enlisted men in their respective outfits and had a tremendous amount of authority. In many cases, they administered discipline and virtually ran their organizations, with the squadron commander and adjutant handling administrative details and signing necessary paperwork such as the morning report. On payday, it was the first sergeant who sat with the pay officer at a desk in the day room and called out the names of assembled personnel, one at a time. As his name was called, each man stepped up, saluted the pay officer, repeated his own name, received his pay in cash, saluted again, did an about face, and left the room. The pay in those days was $21 a month for privates, and from that amount 25 cents went to the Old Soldiers Home and $1.50 to the quartermaster laundry. After receiving what was left, the men normally had the rest of the day off.21

If they wanted to go to Honolulu, a bus ride cost ten cents and taxi fare was a quarter. The bus line ended at the Army and Navy YMCA on Hotel Street in downtown Honolulu where a taxi depot was conveniently located so military members could take cabs to other areas. Across the street was the famous Black Cat Cafe, a favorite hangout for off-duty soldiers and sailors. A Coney Island atmosphere prevailed there, with hot dogs, hamburgers, sea food, slot machines, and various other concessions. The men especially enjoyed posing for pictures with hula girls and sending the souvenir photos home to their families. The food was plentiful and inexpensive--10 cents for a hot dog, 15 cents for a hamburger, 50 cents for a roast turkey meal, etc.--with the most costly item on the 1941 menu being porterhouse steak and mushrooms for a dollar.22

Other well-patronized eating places included the Wo Fat restaurant in Chinatown, a first-class establishment but located in close proximity to the red-light district of the city; Lau Yee Chai in Waikiki; and Kau Kau Korner (at the site of today's Hard Rock Cafe), a drive-in restaurant famous for its "Crossroads of the Pacific" sign that was probably photographed more than any other man-made object in Honolulu next to the Aloha Tower. The Waikiki Theater, with its huge indoor palm trees that reached up to the ceiling, and the Royal Hawaiian and Moana Hotels (the only ones in Waikiki at the time) were other favorite haunts of servicemen spending their leisure time downtown.23

Hickam Field personnel also had plenty to keep them busy on the base during nonduty hours. There were movies every night, and the affordable admission price of 10 cents permitted even $21-a-month privates to go to the theater several times a week. The Hickam Hostess Society, a group of officers' and noncommissioned officers' wives, sponsored monthly dances in the large consolidated mess hall, which was decorated with colorful streamers and tropical plants. The hostesses kept an invitation list with the names of over 200 Honolulu girls to whom bids went out for these popular


Army and Navy YMCA on Hotel Street in downtown Honolulu Above is the Army and Navy YMCA on Hotel Street in downtown Honolulu, patronized by military personnel of all services; and directly across from the YMCA was the Black Cat Cafe (below), where many military members spent their off-duty time enjoying good food at low cost. (Charles L. Tona) Military men pose for a souvenir photo with a hula girl at the Black Cat Cafe (left). The bandage on the arm of the man on the left could indicate that he had just frequented one of the tatto parlors along Hotel Street. (William T. Faulk)
Military men pose for a souvenir photo with a hula girl at the Black Cat Cafe
Black Cat Cafe


Sampling of items from the 1941 menu of the Black Cat Cafe
Sampling of items from the 1941 menu of the Black Cat Cafe. (Robert Stephen Hudson)


Right is the famous "Crossroads of the Pacific" sign at Kau Kau Corner on Kalakaua Avenue, at the entrance to Waikiki, circa 1941. (11th Bombardment Group Association) Above, the popular Waikiki Theater in 1941, with a rainbow over the stage, flanked by coconut trees and other tropical flora. (Edward J. White) Below, the Waikiki area and Diamond Head, as photographed on 18 January 1934. (Arthur C. Snodgrass) Waikiki Theater in 1941
'Crossroads of the Pacific' sign
Waikiki area and Diamond Head, as photographed on 18 January 1934


events. Dances were also a regular weekly feature at the Hickam Officers' Club adjacent to the Pearl Harbor channel. This beautiful new structure, which replaced club facilities formerly located in the basement of the operations building, contained a large dining room, bar, ballroom, and a fully equipped game room. No officer could go to the club after seven o'clock in the evening without wearing dress whites or a white formal jacket, and everything was signed for with chits rather than paid in cash. The many special programs and activities at the club, such as "Monte Carlo Night" and formal dinner-dances, were well attended by assigned officers.24

The Noncommissioned Officers (NCO) Club at the end of Mills Boulevard replaced a wooden frame building that had served as a temporary club ever since the base was built. The old structure fell victim to Hickam's first major fire in March 1940; but work on a new facility had been started months before, so shortly after the disastrous fire, the new club was ready to open. By that time, however, the number of men stationed at Hickam Field had increased considerably, and there were far more NCOs than the club could accommodate. Consequently, it became a first three graders' club, and lower grade NCOs had to content themselves with restaurants and beer gardens operated by the post exchange. Enlisted personnel patronized the "Snake Ranch," a beer hall set up in a wooden building across the parade ground from the big barracks. "I don't know who started that name, ‘Snake Ranch'," said Kenneth L. Bayley (former private first class assigned to the 4th Reconnaissance Squadron), "but I suppose if you drank enough of the local beer, you'd see snakes."25

The Snake Ranch (enlisted men's beer hall)
The Snake Ranch (enlisted men's beer hall) was regularly featured or mentioned in Hickam Field's newspaper.


The sports program provided the men at Hickam Field with yet another off-duty activity. In many units, participation in sports was also a regularly scheduled requirement for assigned personnel several times a week during duty hours. Athletes from "Bomberland" (as Hickam was sometimes called) soon made their mark in the Hawaiian Department by winning many interservice and local competitions. The athletic program, set in motion before the last man had vacated old Luke Field, had its first basketball team competing in the Sector Navy League before Hickam was three months old. In the first two years of participation in service sports within the Hawaiian Department, Hickam Field teams won seven major titles in track, baseball, and basketball.26

Sports coverage was a major part of Hickam News (later renamed Hickam Highlights), the base newspaper. In the initial issue published on 15 March 1940, a message from Chaplain James C. Bean stated:

Hats off to our efficient Base S-2 [intelligence officer] for having the foresight and initiative to see that what this field needed most next to a good five cent cigar is a good news sheet. No matter what they print, as long as it is news, it will add to our acquaintance with the set-up of the field, the current situation of this war, and our acquaintance with each other. Let this letter form the official commendation and blessing of the Base Chaplain.27

When talented PFC W. J. (Joe) Brimm later assumed duty as art editor, his drawings of buxom, scantily clad women began appearing on the covers and many inside pages of the base paper. He also added the personal touch of including recognizable drawings of known enlisted men in his cartoons, along with the seductive wahines (the word for "women" in Hawaiian). This incurred the wrath of the base chaplain, who repeatedly went to the base commander to complain that Joe was corrupting the morals of personnel on the base. Joe would then put a few more clothes on the women for a while but invariably drifted back to the kind of art that he and his friends liked best.28

Irrepressible Joe Brimm, Hickam Field artist
Irrepressible Joe Brimm, Hickam Field artist, obviously took great delight in his work, which vexed the chaplain but endeared him to his buddies. (Toni Gunn Rafferty)

All was not fun and games, however, for the war situation in Europe had made it evident that an immediate expansion of American air power was vitally needed; and this affected air activity in the Hawaiian Islands. In the spring of 1941, the allocation of a greater number of heavy bombers to the Hawaiian Air Force than to any other overseas garrison was an indication of growing concern over the


Front cover of 'Hickam Highlights' (Vol 9, Nr 23, 14 November 1942)
Front cover of Hickam Highlights (Vol 9, Nr 23, 14 November 1942).


possibility of war in the Pacific. The first mass flight of 21 B-17Ds took off from Hamilton Field, California, on 13 May 1941 and landed at Hickam Field the next morning after an average elapsed time of 13 hours and 10 minutes. Members of the Hawaiian Air Force, who had never flown heavy bombers, began to receive intensive instructions from crew members of the 19th Bombardment Group who had ferried the aircraft to Hawaii.29

In the fall of 1941, a War Department decision to send reinforcements to the Philippines adversely affected the ability of the Hawaiian Air Force to perform its mission by assigning a lower priority in allocation of aircraft and requiring a diversion of some of its strength. On 5 September 1941, nine of the Hawaiian Air Force's B-17Ds and 75 crew members under the command of Maj Emmett O'Donnell, Jr., took off from Hickam for Clark Field in the first flight of land-based bombers across the central Pacific. Successful completion of this historic flight proved that the Philippines could be reinforced by air.30

On 27 October 1941, Col William E. Farthing assumed command of Hickam Field from Brig Gen Jacob H. Rudolph, who was reassigned as commander of the 18th Bombardment Wing. As base commander, Colonel Farthing managed housekeeping functions, while General Rudolph had the responsibility for tactical defense of the field. As relations between the United States and Japan continued to deteriorate, squadron commanders at Hickam were concerned about their crews being trained and meeting certain essential requirements. Capt Russell L. Waldron, commander of the 31st Bomb Squadron, was particularly frustrated about not having enough people for his gunnery and other combat crew positions because the Hawaiian Department was demanding that he provide these men for guard duty around warehouses and other facilities in Honolulu.31

On Saturday, 6 December, word soon spread through the base that the exercise was over and all restrictions had been lifted. Ira W. Southern, who was on duty that afternoon as Charge of Quarters for the 17th Air Base Group, was busy for two or three hours handing out passes and taking phone calls inquiring about whether the alert was lifted or "Is there a pass for me?" Russell Tener of the 18th Bomb Wing went to Pearl Harbor with Tom Martin, Bill Enos, Stanley Toye, and Lou Kirchner to see the "Battle of Music." He had a proud feeling when the band from the USS Pennsylvania (his home state) won the contest. Second-place honors went to the band from the USS Arizona.32

The Hickam Officers' Club was filled with the usual Saturday night crowd. Lieutenant Gray and 1st Lt Donovan D. Smart finally received the white coats they had ordered from The Hub, a men's store in downtown Honolulu, so they got dates, rented a car, and attended a dinner-dance at the club. Captain and Mrs. Waldron "and probably three-fourths of the pilots who were officers" were also there at a big party. The waitresses serving refreshments that night were, ironically, clad in colorful Japanese kimonos.* A good time was had by all, and it was not until the early hours of the morning that the partygoers finally left to go home, looking forward to sleeping late that Sunday morning, 7 December 1941.33

* Information received from Mrs. Yukie Yamashiro, one of the Japanese waitresses working that night at the club, who is the aunt of co-author Leatrice R. Arakaki.


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