Dec. 7, 1941 -- 8:00 am -- Pearl Harbor


By James F. Cox


I was applying for a shipfitter job and for the past few months been doing that job. I had already eaten breakfast and was in the shop (which was on the lower deck) reading the Sunday Funny Paper. When I heard the GQ sounding, I thought it was a fire drill and was afraid I would not be able to get all the fire extinguishers, rescue equipment and other necessary equipment out fast enough. (General Quarters--this means: man your battle stations.)

I went up to the Deck and Jap planes were flying around overhead. The Gunners Mate said, "What are you doing standing around? Get on the D--- Guns !" I was the Second Shellman on the #3 Gun. This is a 5", 38 Anti-Aircraft Gun with 190" (about 16 ' barrell). My job was to load the (35# to 45#) shell in the fuse pot.

We had just painted the 50 caliber machine guns and they were quickly put together even though still wet.

We put alot of shrapnel in the air. The Jap planes had to go through it, so they dropped two bombs, aiming for our ship, trying to sink us. They missed both times--one dropped off the bow and one off the stern. One did knock off about 18 ' of the back finns. Each the bombs were dropped, our guns would not fire because someone had turned off our electricity. (At the time I thought someone was in error or that it was some type of sabotage.) We took shelter in the gun-shelter, which only had stainless steel insulated panels over us. The electricity was turned back on and we went out to fire our guns again. One Japanese plane came in so close to us that one of our officers emptied his 45 at it. We were credited with bringing down two planes.

Since we were in the dock, the boilers were turned off. They were quickly turned on at 8:00 am, but took several hours to get up enough steam to move us out. (So most ships were you might say "sitting ducks" for the Japs.) The Jap planes had bombed approximately an hour and left.

About 11:00 am we finally got up enough steam to start moving out. When backing out we bumped into a Motor Launch loaded with wounded guys and we saw some of the guys jumping overboard, thinking the worst. We would only have moved them a bit is all. The Detroit tried to go out first --but did not have enough steam. So they had to push her out of the way first for us to get on through.

After getting underway we headed towards Japan, looking for Japs. We found none. We were in a convoy of 3 or 4 destroyers and 3 or 4 Light Cruisers (one being the Detroit). We dropped a lot of depth charges at Jap subs... but did not get any. We were out for about 3 or 4 days then headed back to Pearl Harbor. When we arrived at the Harbor, there was one shot fired out of the harbor, to tell us not to come in. A little later they sent a signal by lights, telling us that we could not come in because the Cunningham, another destroyer, had got her screw caught in a mine cable. About 2 to 3 hours later the ship was freed and we got the OK to come on in.

When we did get back into the harbor, we went in the Navy Yard and they cut 18 ' off the bilge keels under our ship. We did patrol duty until they got two transports loaded with wounded service men from Pearl Harbor and we brought them back to San Francisco. We did convoy duty for about 6 months.

2002 taskforce-17@msn.com