Testimony of Lt. Kermit Tyler before the Navy Court of Inquiry.
From: Pearl Harbor Attack, vol. 32, pp. 341-350.
1. Q. Will you state your name, rank, and present station.
A. Kermit A. Tyler.
2. Q. Rank?
A. Lieutenant Colonel, Air Corps, Army Air Force Board, Orlando,
3. Q. What was your rank and duty on 7 December 1941?
A. I was assigned as Executive Officer in the 8th Pursuit Squadron. I
was a First lieutenant in the air corps at that time.
4. Q. What particular duties were you performing at about 0755 on the
morning of 7 December 1941?
A. I was assigned as pursuit officer with a duty as Assistant to the
Controller, at the information center at Fort Shafter.
5. Q. Fort Shafter, Territory of Hawaii?
6. Q. Will you tell the court in a brief way what these duties consisted
of that you were performing on this particular morning?
A. The duties of a pursuit officer was to assist the Controller in
ordering planes to intercept enemy planes or supposed enemy planes,
after the planes got in the air.
7. Q. Your duty, then, was in connection with a pursuit squadron, and
not in some capacity such as the aircraft warning center?
A. That is correct. I was sent down there for training. Inasmuch as this
was just being started, it was necessary to detail certain officers who
had some background in order to get the thing going.
8. Q. This duty was actually performed in the, shall we say in the
Command Post of your pursuit squadron? I am not familiar with your
terminology, and would ask you to explain just exactly the nature of the
post of duty at which you were stationed.
A. The information center was a post from which fighter squadrons on the
alert would be ordered to take to the air; in fact, my task at this
information center had involved a small switchboard which would reach
9. Q. What I am trying to get at now, were you in a branch of an
information center, or at an information center, or what?
A. I was at the one information center for all of the islands.
10. Q. At the one information center of all the islands. Now you were in
contact at such station with all radar stations?
A. Yes, sir, they had direct lines.
11. Q. Now how long had you been assigned these duties that you were
performing that morning?
A. I had one previous tour on the preceding Wednesday, at which time
there was only myself and the telephone operator at the information
center. This was my second assignment of that nature.
12. Q. Now this particular station or post at which you were then
stationed was in what locality in the island of Oahu?
A. It was at Fort Shafter.
13. Q. Fort Shafter is where with reference to Pearl Harbor?
A. I would say it is about eight miles east of Pearl Harbor.
14. Q. How many officers and men were on duty with you in this
particular post or station on this morning of 7 December, 1941?
A. Approximately seven or eight enlisted men, and I was the only officer
15. Q. Now what duties in general did they perform? Were they assistants
to you, or what were they doing?
A. There were five or six spotters whose duty was to display arrows on
the information center board, to indicate radar plots of aircraft. There
was one man on the telephone exchange, and one man on the historical
record which keep a historical record of all plots that are made by the
16. Q. Now these plots that you were making the information upon when
they were based, where did you get that?
A. They came by direct lines to each plotter from one radar station
which gave him the information.
17. Q. Could you give an example as to about what sort of data would
come in from a telephone from one radar station when a plane or group of
planes were sighted?
A. Simply be a bearing of so many degrees and range, certain number of
18. Q. And then as I understand it, somebody plotting in the center
where you were located put that down in the form of a record, a graphic
A. It was plotted with a replaceable arrow on the table, and also there
was a system of recording it on this sheet of paper which was an overlay
of the Hawaiian Islands and surrounding waters. I might say probably
they included in the report of the radar station the number of planes
expected in the plot, but that wasn't at the time conveyed in each plot.
19. Q. In other words, that was not always done?
20. Q. Now, were you the Senior Officer Present in this central station
where you were on post?
A. I was the only officer present.
21. Q. And it is my understanding that you were the officer in charge of
this particular station or post?
A. Yes, sir.
22. Q. Was there a Naval officer present at this post on the morning of
7 December 1941?
A. There was after the attack started, sir.
23. Q. Was there an officer present before the attack?
A. No, sir.
24. Q. Did you receive, while you were on duty on the morning of the 7th
December 1941, any report of interest?
A. How do you mean by that sir,?
25. Q. Did you receive any information or any report that you considered
of any importance?
A. Well, I received a call from one of the radar stations, I believe it
is called Opana, which indicated that they had a larger number of planes
than he had seen before on his scope; that is, the original report.
26. Q. Can you recall at about what time this report was received in the
A. I would estimate it was around 7:15.
27. Q. Now where is Opana station located from where you say you got
A. It was the north side of the island.
28. Q. And it was about how many miles from Fort Shafter, where you
A. I would say thirty-five miles in a direct line, perhaps.
29. Q. Now is this station on top of a mountain, on seashore, or can you
tell how it was located?
A. I had never been there, and I don't know.
30. Q. Can you remember the language of the report?
A. I can't remember the exact language. As I said before, the radar
operator reported that he had a larger plot than he had previously seen;
that is about all there was to it.
31. Q. Did you have any abnormal reaction to this report at that time?
A. No, sir. I thought about it for a minute, and then told him, "Thanks
for calling in the report."
32. Q. Had you any information during your tour of duty on this morning
of 7 December 1941, as to the movements of any friendly planes in the
A. I had no official information. However, I had very good reason to
believe hat there was a flight of B-17's en route to the Islands from
the mainland. I had friend who was in the bomber command who told me
that any time the radio stations were playing this Hawaiian music all
night, I could be certain that a flight of our bombers was coming over,
and when I had gotten up at 4:00 a.m., to report for duty, I listened to
this music all the way to the station, so I was looking for a flight of
33. Q. Now when you went on watch, or duty shall I say, that morning,
were you given any information by the officer stationing you or the
officer whom you relieved, if you did relieve anybody were you given any
special instructions as to what to be on the lookout for?
A. No, sir.
34. Q. Did you actually relieve anybody that morning?
A. No, sir.
35. Q. How did you happen to come to go on duty? Was that in response to
a detail that went on duty at that time every morning?
A. Yes, sir. There was a roster of various fighter pilots. My tour of
duty was from 4:00 to 8:00 a.m. on that morning, sir.
36. Q. Did you have any instructions for your post?
A. No, sir.
37. Q. And you say the only previous experience you had had with that
post of duty was the time, several days before, when you did a tour of
A. Yes, sir.
38. Q. Did you have any familiarity with the mechanics of radar
interceptors? That is, how they functioned mechanically or electrically?
A. I understood the principle of radar, yes, sir.
45. Q. Did you know whether or not the particular type of radar that was
then in use, had any means of distinguishing a friendly plane from an
A. Oh, I knew that there was no way of distinguishing by radar.
46. Q. And the only information of friendly planes that you had on this
morning was the deduction you made when you heard a Honolulu radio
station playing Hawaiian music at a very early hour; is that correct?
A. That is the only definite indication I had. I think I was equally
divided between the thought that it could be the B-17's, or a carrier
47. Q. You mean, by "carrier force," U.S. Naval carrier force, or enemy?
A. Friendly force, U.S. Naval airplanes.
48. Q. Had it occurred to you to identify with the Navy whether or not
they had any planes in flight at this time?
A. No, sir.
49. Q. I don't suppose, from the information you had, that you had any
idea at that time of the course on which these B-17's would approach
A. Only the rough idea, sir.
50. Q. What was this rough idea?
A. Well, somewhere from the northeast.
51. Q. And why do you say somewhere from the northeast?
A. Well, that would be the course from San Francisco.
52. Q. Did you have any special information on the morning of 7 December
1941, as to international developments, especially those between the
Japanese and the United States, which would indicate any imminence of
A. The only special information was what I read in the papers, and that
was that a friendly relations or that some agreement had been reached
approximately a week before, or thereabouts.
53. Q. Well, had you or had you not been put in some sort of a frame of
mind of being on the alert against any possible enemy action when you
went on duty that morning?
A. No, sir; in fact, just the opposite, because we had been on alert
about a week before, and the alert had been called off.
54. Q. Now do you know whether or not there was actually an airplane
attack on the Pearl Harbor Naval Base that morning by Japanese planes?
A. Yes, sir.
55. Q. When did you first become aware of this attack?
A. It was about five minutes after 8:00 when the telephone operator
received a call from some source, which I don't know right now, that
there was an attack on.
56. Q. You don't recall the language of the report that you heard?
A. No, sir, the operator was very excited; and so I told him to call in
all information center personnel who had gone off duty at 7:00 o'clock.
There was just the operator and myself there at the time.
57. Q. Did he tell you the kind of attack, whether it was a naval
surface ship attack, aircraft attack, or what?
A. He didn't say, but, however, I knew that it was an air attack,
because at 8:00 o'clock I had just stepped outside for a breath of air
and I saw the attack in progress, but at that time I thought it was the
Navy practicing dive bombing.
58. Q. Do you recall what action you took when you received this report?
A. I called in the information center personnel, who had all gone off
duty at 7:00 o'clock, except the operator and myself, and in a very few
minutes, Major Tindal, who was one of the controllers, arrived from
Hickam Field, and took charge of operations.
59. Q. Did you go off duty then, or what was your status after Major
A. I remained on duty as assistant to him and to Major Berquist, who
also arrived soon thereafter, for approximately thirty-six hours.
69. Q. What were your duties, Colonel, when you reported at 4:00 o'clock
on that Sunday morning.
A. My duties, I believe, were chiefly for training, inasmuch as it was
the first morning I had ever been there on such duty when the
information center was even manned in any degree at all. I had no
specified duties, either written or oral just to report there for duty.
70. Q. Well, did you have any instructions to report information that
came from different radars to any superior officer?
A. No, sir.
71. Q. Would you have reported it to a superior officer, if you had
information that alarmed you?
A. Certainly, if I had been warned that there was any possibility of
attack I would have. However, at that time, there being no means of
identifying plots, there was not much that one man could do, without
having a liaison officer from both the Navy, bombers, and civilian
airways, to give you identification between friendly and enemy plots.
72. Q. Did you get any reports between 4:00 and 7:00 a.m. that morning?
A. There were a number of plots in and around the Islands. I believe
they started sometime before 7:00 o'clock; the actual time I am not
73. Q. At 7:00 o'clock, did you get a report of a plot northerly? I mean
as distinguished from 7:15.
A. At around very close on 7:00 o'clock, it might have been a little
after I don't know I walked over to where the boy was working on his
historical record, and didn't know what he was doing, so I asked him
what his duties were, and so forth.
80. Q. Well, now what happened at 7:15?
A. That was when I received a call from this radar operator. You see, at
7:00 o'clock, all the plotters folded up their equipment and left the
81. Q. What did you do after 7:00 o'clock, then?
A. There was nothing. I didn't do anything. I was just waiting for my
tour to be finished.
82. Q. What did your tour consist of between 7:00 and 8:00? What were
you supposed to do after 7:00 until your tour was completed?
A. I had no particular duties to perform, except to learn all I could
at the information center.
105. Q. Colonel, when you went on duty at this post at 4:00 a.m. on 7
December, had you ever had any instructions whatsoever as to what you
were to do or why you were there?
A. On the previous Wednesday when I went on duty, there was just myself
and the telephone operator there, and not having any instructions, I
called the operations officer, then Major Berquist.
106. Q. You heard my question, didn't you?
A. Yes, sir. And I asked him why I was there and what my duties were. He
told me that they were trying to get the information center set up and
that we were leading off by furnishing personnel to man it. I got the
idea that I was there for training, and he said if any ships went down,
if any of our planes went down we might, by radar reports, be able to
tell where they went down and I would be able to assist in that.
107. Q. But prior to 4:00 o'clock when you went on duty, you had no
instructions as to what you were to do in reporting in any large number
of planes or anything else in the air?
A. That is right, sir.
108. Q. You had no instructions?
A. I had no instructions.
109. Q. And was this the first time you were on duty there, or the
A. That was the second time.
110. Q. And there were no further instructions given you as to what you
were to do while you were on duty from 4:00 to 7:00 a.m., of that
A. That is right, sir.
111. Q. Do you know how many radar stations were in operation on that
A. Because I had about 5 plotters, I gathered there were about 5 in
112. Q. Did you know their locations?
A. I knew the exact location of just one radar, sir.
113. Q. You had no information from anyone to look out for a large plot
of planes, did you, or did you have?
A. I had no warning, sir.
114. Q. You spoke of Hawaiian music playing all night. Will you please
A. Well, the conventional Hawaiian music, guitars and so forth.
115. Q. But you mentioned that as an indication of planes coming
A. Because they would play this music without interruption and even
without announcement, and it had been standard practice to do so for
homing for the planes coming in.
116. Q. Did anyone tell them to play this music for homing for planes to
come in, to your knowledge?
A. From the information I had from this bomber pilot friend of mine, it
was that someone, probably in the Air Force or the Bomber Command,
apparently had arranged for such homing, you see, because it didn't play
on other nights.
117. Q. But you don't know what arrangement they had?
A. No, I don't know, definitely.
118. Q. The instant you saw or became aware of enemy planes over Oahu,
what did you do?
A. I instructed the operator to call the information center plotters
back in. They arrived very shortly and Major Tindal also arrived almost
119. Q. Did it ever occur to you at that time to report immediately to
your senior, or the officer who would like to have that information?
A. Yes, sir. I'm not certain whether I called Major Berquist, or whether
I told the operator to call Wheeler Field and tell them of the events,
or just what happened then. It was really quite confusing for a while,
120. Q. About what time was this?
A. About 8:10, I would say, sir. As a matter of fact, Major Tindal
arrived so soon and took over that there was hardly time to do anything
there. He apparently started on the way as soon as the first bombs hit
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