After the Attack
To You Our Fallen
The barracks now are silent
Where once your laughter rang,
The steel guitar is broken
Where around your bunks we sang.
As the stars give way to morning
In Oahu's cloud-swept sky,
Old Glory's proudly waving there
Seeped in heroes' crimson dye.
Can you hear us there in heaven
As the dawn patrol takes flight?
On silvery wings your memory soars
In holy freedom's fight.
The kona wind blows softly now,
The palm trees whisper low,
But all America will remember
Whence came this dastard's blow.
Let the Nipponese remember this,
As they cringe beneath the sky,
At Hickam's flaming vengeance
For you, the first to die!
Sgt W. Joe Brimm
By 1000, the attack was over; and despite rumors to the contrary, the Japanese attempted no landings. In less than two hours, however, they had crippled the Army's air arm on Oahu, leaving wrecked aircraft, hangars, and other buildings, in addition to exacting a heavy toll of nearly 700 casualties.* Only 29 of the Japanese planes failed to return from the attack, and about 50 others were smashed while attempting to land on the pitching decks of carriers tossed around on the rough sea. Of the 50 aircraft, some 20 or more were a total loss. This was a very small price to pay for the extensive damage inflicted on the Americans. Of the 234 aircraft assigned to the Hawaiian Air Force, 146 were in commission before the attack; afterward, only 83 were in commission, and 76 had been totally destroyed. Although caught by surprise, America's military men fought back bravely. Individual acts of heroism were numerous, with five Distinguished
* See Appendix E.
Service Crosses and 65 Silver Stars later awarded to US Army personnel for valor.1
Following the attack, Colonel Farthing and Colonel Flood had all women and children evacuated from Hickam and Wheeler Fields. Some had already departed on their own in private automobiles, seeking the comparative safety of Honolulu and other outlying areas. At Hickam, a loud speaker blared, "Get all the women and children off the base." Ira Southern and others helped search the houses and found women and children under beds, outside, or already preparing to leave. They boarded Honolulu Rapid Transit Company buses and trucks provided by the evacuation committee of the Major Disaster Council (an official organization of the City and County of Honolulu formed in June 1941 as a result of increasing concern over the possibility of wartime bombardment). A number of evacuees moved in with friends; the remainder stayed at the University of Hawaii's Hemenway Hall, at public schools designated by the evacuation committee, in private homes of families who had volunteered to house them, and at other places such as plantation clubhouses and the Hongwanji School in Waipahu.2
A typical military wife affected by events of the day was Jessie Reed, 29-year-old mother of two small children who had moved to Hickam Field with her husband, Lt Stanley Jennings Reed, only three months before the attack. When the Japanese started bombing and strafing Hickam, she and her children left with neighbors for a friend's home in the mountains some 10 miles away. About 25 people were there, and they all gathered around a radio to listen to the latest news and get instructions on what to do. They could clearly hear the bombing and see the fires from buildings, planes, and ships. Later, they received word that all evacuees were to go to the University of Hawaii, where students helped care for the children and assisted with various errands. After air raid shelters were built in the housing area at Hickam, thev were allowed to return for
Lts George S. Welch and Kenneth M. Taylor wearing the Distinguished Service Cross each received for his action during the 7 December 1941 attack
Top: Presentation of Silver Star and Purple Heart decorations on ramp in front of Hangar 3 at Wheeler Field, 3 July 1942. (W. Bruce Harlow)
Below: Maj Charles Stewart, 86th Observation Squadron Commander at Bellows, congratulates Pvt William L. Burt and PFC Raymond F. McBriarty, who were awarded the Silver Star for gallantry on 7 December 1941. (John J. Lennon)
a while before being evacuated again, this time by ship to the mainland.3
During the evacuation of dependents from Hickam, a group of about 30 wives begged to be allowed to stay and help in the hospital. Several of them had husbands who were killed or wounded during the attack. At first they went to work making dressings and bandages to replace the hospital's depleted stock, since no one knew whether or not the attackers would return. Later, they assisted in the hospital kitchen, releasing military members for other duties. The hospital itself sustained little damage. Besides the large bomb crater on the lawn, there were a few machine-gun bullet holes in the screen of the hospital porches and some bomb fragments on the porch floors. The only casualty from the medical staff was an "aid man" (not further identified) who had been killed by strafing while picking up injured personnel on the flight line. The interior of the hospital, however, was a bloody mess; and clean-up efforts were hampered by the broken water main, which made it necessary to haul water in water carts.4
By mid-afternoon, when the excitement of the attack had subsided, people began to get hungry. Sgt Clarence W. Schertz, the hospital mess sergeant, had anticipated this and, with the help of his regular crew and many of the volunteer wives, was soon dishing out food to all comers. Earlier, he had gone to Honolulu with a large truck and returned with a full load of food supplies. Exactly where or how he got all the food, the hospital commander did not know and never asked. The word soon got around that the hospital was feeding the troops, and a steady stream of men showed up and were fed. The little hospital mess, designed to feed about a hundred people, must have fed well over a thousand that day; and there were none of the usual soldiers' gripes about the quality of the food. Most of the medical personnel stayed in the hospital that night, sleeping on the floors of the offices and dressing rooms. The volunteer wives all slept on mattresses placed on the dining room floor.5
The Continuing Search
While the attack was still in progress, personnel at Hickam, Wheeler, and Bellows Fields began preparing available aircraft for search missions to locate the enemy's carriers. Since the Navy was responsible for the search, General Martin called Admiral Bellinger on the field phone which connected their two offices and asked which direction to go to find the carriers; however, the admiral had nothing on this. General Martin subsequently received information that a carrier might be 25 to 40 miles south of Barbers Point. As soon as A-20A aircraft of the 58th Bombardment Squadron had been loaded with bombs, he gave them the mission of finding the carrier. The first flight of four light bombers, headed by Major Holzapfel, took off from Hickam Field at 1127 but found nothing. A second flight of three A-20As became airborne at 1300, led by 1st Lt Perry S. Cole, with TSgt O'Shea as bombardier and Rod House as gunner. They, too, were unsuccessful in their search for the Japanese carriers. Crew members did get a dramatic view of the damage caused by the attack, plus 20 to 30 holes in their aircraft from trigger-happy antiaircraft gunners.6
Captain "Blondie" Saunders, who had been named provisional commander of all B-17s, led a three-plane formation of Flying Fortresses which also started off in search
of the Japanese carrier force. One aircraft had to abort, however, when its tail wheel started to vibrate and the copilot mistakenly grabbed the lever locking the elevators rather than the tail wheel. This resulted in raising the tail of the B-17, ruining all four propellers. The two remaining B-17D aircraft, piloted by Saunders and Capt Brooke E. Allen, took off at 1140, circled around Diamond Head, and were in the air for about seven hours, arriving back at Hickam around 1800. Allen reported being sent out with information that there were two Japanese carriers to the south, but he found very shortly after takeoff one American carrier to the south. Then, following his personal feeling that the Japanese would have come from the north, he put his compass on "N" and headed straight north. How close he ever came to the carrier task force, he never knew but "returned with minimum fuel and a heart full of disgust that I had been unable to locate them." Saunders recalled that "the military forces on Oahu had seen B-17s around the island for six months but they really let go at us, like we were public enemy number one. I thought we were going to be shot down by our own forces."7
Captain Waldron, provisional commander of all B-18s, joined in the search with two aircraft, taking off at 1330 in a northwest direction. His B-18 carried six 100-pound bombs and two .30-caliber machine guns, and 31st Bomb Squadron personnel made up the crew. The bombing capability of this obsolescent aircraft was primitive, so Waldron later considered it fortunate that they did not find the Japanese task force. "I wouldn't have been here if I did," he said. Returning from the search mission, he also faced heavy antiaircraft artillery fire. Although they were operating on radio silence, which was the routine procedure, he finally got on the radio and said, "This is Gatty, your friend! Please let me land!" That went on for some time--45 minutes to an hour--before he finally got clearance to land.8
At Wheeler, as soon as available fighter aircraft could be patched together and serviced, they were sent up to patrol the skies. They, too, encountered heavy antiaircraft artillery fire, especially over Pearl Harbor, then faced a barrage of rifle and machine gun fire when approaching Wheeler to land. One mission flown by an assortment of ten 15th Pursuit Group planes was at dusk escorting B-17s on a search north-northwest of Oahu, in a 200-mile sweep for one and one-half hours. Another was a twilight scramble by Lieutenant Ahola and other 18th Pursuit Group pilots who took off from Wheeler to investigate a bogey (an unknown), with instructions to climb as high as they could and fly toward Diamond Head. The flight commander, 1st Lt Charles H. MacDonald, asked what they were supposed to be going after. When control tower personnel told him it was reported there was a bright light over Diamond Head, he said, "Doesn't anybody know that Venus is bright out there this time of year?" With that, they aborted the mission and returned to Wheeler.9
In all, A-20, B-17, B-18, P-40, P-36, and O-47 aircraft flew a total of 48 sorties in a fruitless search for the enemy's carriers. As the cold and weary aircrew members from Hickam climbed stiffly out of their planes that evening, they were anxious to find something to eat. Many had not eaten since the previous night. The enlisted men learned that the base hospital had the only hot food around, so they headed that way. The facility was dimly lit with blankets draped over the windows for
blackout purposes. After eating some stew, the men walked back to their units.10
Maj Rudolph L. Duncan of the US Army Signal Corps commanded the Signal Aircraft Warning Regiment, Hawaii, and a job he had to do quickly after the attack was to check on communications facilities at various bases and installations that might have to be used for landings and takeoffs by the few fighter aircraft left serviceable. At every stop he was confidentially informed about the little Japanese newsboys who, when making their newspaper deliveries very early on Sunday morning, 7 December, told the sentries at each base, "Pretty soon many planes make big attack from sky--better get all ready quick." These alleged words of warning, being entirely the figment of one person's imagination, "followed the natural law of Army gravitation and spread to all bases in Hawaii as fast as only a choice tidbit of like Army confidential information can and does spread." This became a joke of sorts and, until worn out after a few days, the customary greeting in chow lines was "Have you heard about the little Japanese newsboy last Sunday morning who. . . ."11
This was just the start of rumors that ran rampant in the hours following the attack. Lieutenant Gray of the 17th Air Base Group recalled that:
Almost everyone had a rumor to tell, some of them initiated by the Japanese themselves aboard their nearby ships.* Broadcasting on a Hawaiian frequency, their rumors were designed to confuse both the military and civilians. The announcer spoke flawless English to make it appear the program originated in the islands. One admonition at about 10 a.m. on December 7 was to drink no water because the Honolulu water reservoir had been poisoned. Other rumors later in the day were that San Francisco was under bombardment; that the Panama Canal had fallen to Japanese forces; and that Kansas City was the target for enemy planes. A locally concocted rumor had lady-of-the-evening volunteers giving invaluable assistance at Tripler General Hospital. Hardly true; however, some women were asked to leave military areas because they rendered therapy not on the doctor's chart.12
A popular but unsubstantiated tale was that some of the Japanese whose bodies were recovered wore class rings from the University of Hawaii and other American colleges. Many believed fifth column work had aided the attackers--that blazed fields marked objectives by day, and gasoline flares by night. A widely circulated story was that arrows had been cut in the cane fields pointing to Pearl Harbor so the Japanese would know where to bomb. This made little sense, considering the size of Pearl Harbor compared to an arrow cut in a cane field, but the rumor persisted. Despite the beliefs to which some people still cling today, all the investigative agencies agreed that there was no fifth column activity of any sort in Hawaii.13
Around midafternoon on 7 December, base officials at Hickam asked the hospital
* This, too proved to be a rumor. Admiral Nagumo imposed radio silence on his ships when they headed back north toward Japan after the attack.
staff to check out the rumor that the water supply had been poisoned. Not having the facilities for the complicated laboratory analysis required to determine this,
Captain Lane sent some soldiers out to catch dogs on which they could test the water. They picked up a couple of half-grown mutts but could not coax them into drinking the water. Finally, with some difficulty, they managed to insert stomach tubes and poured about a gallon of water into each of them, then locked them in a room. After a few hours, finding they had nothing worse than wet feet, Captain Lane proclaimed the water fit to drink. Early the next morning, he received confirmation from the Pearl Harbor surgeon that their analysis of the water found no poison. Later, he heard a rumor that the dogs used for the test at Hickam refused to drink water thereafter and got their moisture by bumming beer from soldiers at the beer garden!14
The most prevalent rumors involved the expected Japanese invasion. Almost everyone believed the Japanese would be back; consequently, there were reports throughout the day that "a Japanese attack force was about to land, the Japanese had already landed on the opposite side of the island and were hiding in cane fields, a large part of the island population of Japanese ancestry had joined the invaders," etc. The 25th Infantry Division's journal for 7 December 1941 included entries reporting that troop ships were coming in 30 miles southeast of Pearl Harbor escorted by enemy planes, four Japanese transports were off Barbers Point, and many reports that parachute troops wearing blue coveralls with red discs on the left shoulder were landing near Kaneohe Bay, on the North Shore, and at Barbers Point. The latter rumor was so convincing that Headquarters Hawaiian Department issued the following instructions at 1408 on 8 December 1941: "Effective immediately, uniform for all troops is olive drab, cotton or wool; blue denim will not, repeat, not be worn. All cloth insignia except chevrons will be removed from uniform." These instructions remained in effect until revoked by the Hawaiian Department on 23 December 1941.15
Preparations to meet the expected Japanese invasion included the formation of four infantry companies comprised of Wheeler Field personnel, headed by four Army Air Forces officers who had been in the infantry before. They were placed around the field and instructed "to watch for anybody that might come in." Also, a battalion of infantrymen from Schofield Barracks arrived at Wheeler to guard the airfield, at which time Colonel Flood turned his ground personnel over to the army major in command of the battalion. At Hickam, Hawaiian Air Force personnel defended the airfield and bomb dump against the expected Japanese invasion. Outside the military posts, army troops took up defensive positions around the perimeters of the main islands to thwart anticipated attempts to land from the sea. Possible aircraft landing areas were blocked with old trucks, scrap boilers, large tree branches, and other obstacles. If materials were unavailable, furrows were plowed. Trenches soon crisscrossed beautiful parks, pineapple fields ready for harvest, and even school playgrounds far too small for any plane to use. All civilian airports were taken over by the armed forces, and all private planes were grounded.16
The Long Night
Since the consolidated barracks at Hickam had been destroyed, many enlisted men slept that night under trees, in the open
under blankets, in pup tents, in any unlocked family quarters, or whatever shelter they could find. Members of the Headquarters Squadron, 17th Air Base Group, relocated for the night to an essentially undamaged wooden school building near the water tower. As friends were reunited, they rejoiced, then grieved for those who were killed or seriously injured. After dark, nervous men challenged anyone in sight and shouted at every shadow. Trigger-happy soldiers, sailors, and airmen fired tracer bullets into the sky at the slightest provocation. This tense situation inevitably resulted in tragedy when four of six US Navy fighter aircraft from the carrier Enterprise were shot down by "friendly" fire as they headed toward Ford Island, resulting in the death of three pilots.17
Throughout the night, everyone was jumpy, convinced that the Japanese would be back to capture the island. PFC Bruno Siko and other members of the 19th Transport Squadron settled in trenches dug in the coral area along the southwest side of the Hickam runway near their aircraft. It was a bright moonlit night, but blackout procedures were in effect, so everything on the ground was dark. Before long, trouble broke out among some of the men who had been drinking a lot of beer, "thought they saw Japs," and started shooting. Cpl Francis L. Mack remembered one individual who went wild with a .30-caliber machine gun and "damn near killed us all." Fortunately, no one was hurt. PFC Christie shared a foxhole with two buddies, Vic Wichansky and Private Gibbs; and the three of them discussed the events of the day and the sad news that their friend Johnny Horan had been killed that morning. Everyone was on edge, so a personal visit by their squadron commander, Maj Charles C. Cunningham, was most welcome. He walked through the encampment, talking to the men with words of encouragement.18
Wheeler Field personnel, armed and waiting for the feared invasion, witnessed the spectacular display of firepower from Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field triggered by the approach of US Navy planes from the Enterprise. Thousands of tracer bullets and rounds of antiaircraft fire crisscrossed the sky, which lit up like an orange sheet of flame. Two of the planes approached Wheeler, along the Schofield perimeter, and two .50-caliber machine guns positioned north of the highway began chattering away. One aircraft began to slowly roll over before it nosed down into a pineapple field, skidding through the soft earth, as a second aircraft crashed somewhere farther up the gully. The plane in the gully was almost on its back, its canopy smashed, with the pilot hanging suspended through the opening. As the men from Wheeler arrived at the site, they stopped abruptly upon seeing the insignia on the fuselage which identified the plane as US Navy. Several men eased the pilot from the aircraft and laid him down. Others raced on toward the other plane, which was US Navy also. They carried both pilots to the highway and waited for the ambulance, but both were dead on arrival at the hospital. One of the two gunners was certain he had shot down at least one of the planes. He had been depressed all day after seeing some close friends killed in the barracks during the sneak attack that morning. All day long he wanted to kill Japanese so badly that when the chance came, he took advantage of it. When he learned that the plane he had shot down was American, he fell apart.19
It had been raining steadily at Wheeler since noon, and the troops were
muddy and miserable that night. Charles Hendrix was shaking from head to foot, the first time he had ever been cold in Hawaii. Then someone yelled "Gas!" and pandemonium erupted until each man found his gas mask and put it on, adding to his discomfort and misery. In the eerie darkness, trucks crept about slowly, their lights dimmed by sheets of carbon paper taped over the headlights. Shots rang out as sentries fired at shadows and sometimes at each other, often not even waiting for a response to their challenge. The sign and countersign at Wheeler Field during the first night of war were "George Washington" and "Valley Forge" (for sentries calm enough to listen).20
The long night wore on. Suddenly, someone thought he saw a Japanese and then was sure he saw a Japanese, and fired. This kicked off a long, continuous wave of rifle fire as everyone in the Wheeler-Schofield perimeter fired simultaneously. Thousands of rounds of ammunition arched harmlessly into empty fields, serving only to ease some of the tension. Then, on the narrow-gauge railroad tracks running through the field, a locomotive pulling a few cars chugged its way heavily into a siding. As it stopped, armed guards jumped down and said they saw no Japanese on the way from Honolulu, then marched up the street to the 14th Pursuit Wing headquarters. The Hawaiian train crew stayed in the cab, afraid to leave for fear of being mistaken for Japanese, so Private Woodrum and another person took them some coffee. A few minutes later, a loud hissing sound pierced the night and someone shouted at the top of his lungs, "Gas! Gas!" Everyone donned gas masks, looking strange with their bulging eyepieces and dangling throat tubes. A sergeant came back after investigating and ripped off his mask, shouting, "Take 'em off. It's just that damned engine letting off steam." Everyone cursed the train crew.21
A little later, a command car came through the gate and parked at the edge of the field. Several men climbed out and began walking toward Woodrum and others in the group, with a man in the center who was obviously the leader. Seeing the glitter of rank on the officer's shoulder, they started to come to attention; but the man held out his hand and said, "At ease, men, at ease." Someone came out of the cook tent with a blue flashlight, and they saw stars on his shoulders. It was General Davidson, the 14th Pursuit Wing commander, who told them "we're going to be all right even though we took a beating." He didn't think the Japanese would return, but said "we would be more ready for them if they did." With him were three pilots who got off the ground--Lieutenants Taylor, Welch, and Rasmussen. They answered all the questions asked, while the general stood back listening, interjecting a remark occasionally, watching as the men began to relax a little. This seemed to be the main reason for the visit. Finally, General Davidson said there were other people to see before the pilots could sleep, and they all walked back to the command car and drove away.22
At Bellows, members of the 298th Infantry worked all night putting in gun emplacements and stringing barbed wire on the beach in preparation for an expected Japanese landing at daylight. Others without critical jobs were mustered into guard duty, both on the beaches and within the field. These jobs were taken over by the infantry about three days later, much to the relief of Pvt Decker and others who were alarmed at the number of shots fired for no reason other than nerves and inexperience.
On the first night, for instance, a call was put out that "the Japs were landing on the beach" and everyone was ordered to fix bayonets and head out there. As the first of their group topped the sand dunes, the beach guards opened fire, fortunately for them, over their heads, then informed them that the reported landing was false. Tension and panic caused several near tragedies even in the tent area, so it was not safe to walk around. Consequently, most of the men stayed all night in foxholes dug in the sand.23
Several of the 86th Observation Squadron personnel, including 1st Lt Jean K. Lambert, spent the night in the operations shack at Bellows Field listening to the radio. They had been alerted by the Hawaiian Department Headquarters to begin reconnaissance flights after dawn; so between 0600 and 0700 on 8 December, preparations were underway for the first missions. Just about that time, a call from the control tower alerted them to "something strange in the water, out by the reef, off the beach end of the runway." Maj C. B. Stewart, the squadron commander, sent Lambert and 1st Lt James T. Lewis up to see what it was. As soon as they were airborne, Lewis began circling the reef area while Lambert crawled down into the "greenhouse" observation belly of the O-47 to get an unobstructed view. It wasn't light enough to use the aerial camera, so he just scanned the ocean with his naked eyes and quickly saw the Japanese midget submarine. The surf was high, and the big waves rolled the sub to an upright position, allowing Lambert to see the conning tower. It was obvious that the sub was hung up on the reef, and there was no sign of life. Lambert immediately called Major Stewart on the radio to describe the scene below and told him he would make a sketch or two of the sub, since the light was not strong enough to take pictures. Stewart gave his approval and instructed them to get back after they had seen enough. After circling at low altitude for another 10 to 15 minutes, they returned to Bellows and briefed the major, who then called Department Headquarters to report the situation.24
In the meantime, Lt Paul S. Plybon, Executive Officer of "G" Company, 298th Infantry (which had bivouacked for weeks in the ironwood grove at the end of the Bellows runway), took Cpl David Akui with him on beach patrol just before dawn. When it became light enough, he swept the bay with high-powered glasses and saw what he thought was a lobster stake near the entrance to the reef. As they watched, a wave broke on the "stake," revealing the top of the sub's conning tower. About that time, there was a flash of white when a big comber broke in front of them, and they saw that it was a man struggling in the surf. The next wave washed him closer to shore, so they waded out and brought him in. They had "captured" the commander of the sub, Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki, who had been fighting the giant waves for some time and finally lost consciousness. They took him to the operations shack and provided him with a blanket, as he was cold and exhausted. Major Stewart again called Hawaiian Department Headquarters, this time to report that the sub's officer had been apprehended. Within a very short time, 2d Lt Lee E. Metcalfe of the 23d Bomb Squadron at Hickam Field arrived at Bellows, accompanying a military intelligence staff member, to pick up the prisoner.25
During interrogation, Sakamaki stated that he was 24 years old, an officer of the
Japanese two-man midget submarine, grounded on the coral reef off Bellows Field.
Japanese Navy, and a graduate of the Imperial Naval Academy. He was the commanding officer and navigator of the midget sub; and his shipmate, Kiyoshi Inagaki,* was the engineer. Sakamaki was greatly distressed over the "disgrace" of being captured and begged to be killed. He said that he wished to commit suicide and had not done so at the time of landing on shore because the possibility had remained of making good his escape and rejoining the Japanese Navy. Now that he had been disgraced, he did not want his name or ship information to be sent back to Japan. Ensign Sakamaki was the first prisoner of war captured by the United States in World War II and became known as POW No. 1.26
The midget submarine, Japan's latest "secret weapon," measured approximately 81 feet by 6 feet, carried two 18-inch torpedoes, and was powered by one 600-horsepower electric motor supported by 224 short-lived batteries with no self-recharging capability, which resulted in a very limited operating range. The five involved in the 7 December 1941 attack were hauled from Japan to Hawaii piggyback aboard specially modified "mother" submarines. The plan was to edge as close as possible to the mouth of Pearl Harbor, cut the midgets loose on the eve of "X-Day," have them sneak into the harbor at night, and position themselves so as to travel a circular route around Ford Island and damage any ships missed in the aerial assault against the US Fleet. Meanwhile, the mother subs would lie outside the harbor to attack any ships in flight, then later retrieve their pups at a rendezvous point about seven miles southwest of the island of Lanai. None made it back, however. One was shelled, depth-charged, and sunk outside the harbor
* Seaman Kiyoshi Inagaki drowned in the rough surf, and his body washed up on the beach three days later.
Basic Personnel Record for Prisoner of War Kazuo Sakamaki (POW No. 1)
by the USS Ward an hour before the air attack; a second was sunk outside the harbor after firing its torpedoes at the USS St. Louis without result; the third managed to enter Pearl Harbor but was rammed and sunk by the USS Monaghan; and a fourth was presumed to have been sunk in the heat of battle.27
Sakamaki's midget sub, which had an inoperative gyrocompass, had been depth-bombed by two destroyers, twice struck a reef at the Pearl Harbor entrance, and finally drifted east until it lodged on the coral reef off Bellows Field. About mid-morning on 8 December, some Navy officers arrived at Bellows to look at the submarine, then recommended to their superiors that the sub be freed from the reef by dive bombing around it. So, a little later, a Navy plane flew over and dropped a few bombs in the vicinity of the submarine, with no visible effect. By then, it was about noon. The 86th Observation Squadron had a huge raft, constructed of heavy lumber with empty 50-gallon drums as flotation gear, which was usually anchored out by the reef for swimming and other activities. That day, however, it was up on the shore for maintenance. Practically everyone in the squadron donned swimming trunks and helped launch the raft, after first affixing a steel cable to it. They pushed it out to the reef, fastened the cable to the submarine's nose area, then attached the other end of the long cable to a huge bulldozer used for construction work at Bellows. The bulldozer then reeled in the cable on the drum
Group portrait, painted on silk by an unknown Japanese artist, of the nine midget submariners killed during the 7 December 1941 attack. Conspicuously absent is Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki, who was captured and became POW No. 1 after his midget sub grounded on the reef at Bellows.
Closeup view of the Japanese midget sub which was dragged to shore by a huge bulldozer at Bellows. Among the articles found in the sub were dried fish, apples, canned goods, American pencils, and one bottle labeled "Wilkens family."
attached to it and just dragged the midget sub right off the reef and up onto the beach. Shortly afterward, a Navy technical intelligence unit from Pearl Harbor arrived with an 18-wheel flatbed trailer and hauled away the sub. It was later refurbished for temporary display in Hawaii before being shipped to the mainland. There it was hauled all across America, where it attracted crowds of astonished people, received sensationalized press coverage, and motivated patriotic citizens and school children to buy War Bonds and Stamps. Ironically, none of Japan's secret weapons inflicted any damage on the "Day of Infamy," but one pathetic little survivor helped raise millions of dollars for America's war effort.28
So it was that little Bellows Field in Waimanalo had the honor of capturing not only the first prisoner of war for America but also the first "prize" of war. This, after a long day of tragedy, confusion, loss of life, and despair, provided a glimmer of optimism and hope. It was the first step on the long road back.
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