It was a beautiful Sunday morning and I was dressing to go ashore. Me and my buddies planned to go to Aiea Landing to swim and play on the beach. It was 7:40 AM and I was anxiously waiting for 8:00 for the presentation of colors.
The sound of explosions was somewhat muffled because I was still inside my quarters. My first thought was that it must be a practice raid and I was a little angry that I had to go to my battle station at casement #7 just above my compartment rather than to go on liberty. Then general quarters sounded and I had second thoughts about it being a practice raid. As I reached my battle station I caught a brief glimpse of a Japanese plane coming in low over the USS Solace anchored near by. By the time the guns were ready to fire there were plenty of targets. Horizontal bombers were streaking across the harbor dropping their lethal bombs. I was too busy to even wonder what was happening or why, when the USS Nevada took two torpedo's on the right side directly opposite casemate #7. This knocked out the ship's communication system but the gun crews continued to fire independently.
In the next few minutes the USS Nevada was hit by a bomb that destroyed the galley and blew out casemate #9. The gun captain and the crew that survived from #9 joined the crew on casemate #7. The flames spread over into casemate #7 so the crew had to abandon the area. We all went to casemate #4 to assist in any way we could. Suddenly we remembered the gunpowder in casemate #7 and returned for it and moved it to casemate #4.
The USS Nevada was getting underway by this time and as it passed the burning remains of the USS Arizona I suddenly remembered that Admiral Kidd and his orderly who was my friend were aboard the USS Arizona. It was then that the true reality of what was happening hit me and I was sure that neither men could have possibly lived through the total destruction of the USS Arizona. It was confirmed later that Admiral Kidd was killed but I still had not heard about my friend George Bailey. The terror we felt in casemate #4 turned to frustration when we had to abandon our gun due to the position of the ship. Firing was impossible without hitting our own military installations.
I remember vaguely that the Nevada was close to the floating dry dock. My friend J. E. Gatlin was attempting to jump overboard. I pulled him back and we sought cover on the ship from the continual strafing. The ship was again hit by bombs and was untenable. The USS Nevada was beached shortly after and preparations began for repelling the next attack. The attacking planes were gone but we all felt sure that they would return.
Around 10AM the USS Nevada was sitting on the bottom. Everything below the main deck was under water. I and other Marines began carrying 50 caliber ammo up on the foremast in preparation of another attack. By dusk the job was finished and a very exhausted group of Marines sat down by a 14" gun on deck. Captain Scanlon later issued a commendation to these men for their devotion to duty.
We were assigned barracks in the Navy yard and my duties were to stand watch on the antiaircraft guns on the USS Nevada until the ship was patched and floated into dry dock in the Navy yard. The job of helping to clean the oil and debris from below deck kept us busy for the next few weeks.
Admiral Nimitz issued a commendation for the salvage work. We did get to go on liberty again and one day when I was returning to the barracks in the Navy yard on a bus from Honolulu I spotted George Bailey from the USS Arizona walking down the street. He was alive! He survived! But that was the last time I ever saw him.
In April of 1942 the USS Nevada steamed out of Pearl Harbor under her own power....headed for Bremerton Washington.