JAMES E. MURPHEY, USS MEDUSA


On the morning of 12-7-41 the Medusa was tied up at Pearl City and we had three Destroyers tied up along the west side of the ship that we were making some repairs on. I had just eaten breakfast and had gone to the General Storekeeping main storeroom where the storekeepers hung out when off duty. I heard numerous explosions and I said to some of the men that there must be a high ranking Admiral on a ship entering the harbor and they were giving him a twenty one gun salute as I casually walked over to a port hole overlooking west side of Ford Island. I saw smoke coming from Ford Island and I decided to go up topside to see what was going on.

As I was going up the stairs to the main deck the general alarm sounded and I started running to my duty station which was a 5" broadside gun. I was on the loading crew. As we couldn't fire that gun in the harbor we stood around awhile and finally received word to take cover. While I was going to my station I looked up and saw quite a few airplanes with the red ball insignia and realized they were Japanese. We took cover in a deck below the boat deck and I watched outside through one of the portholes. I guess they finally got some ammunition up and our 3" antiaircraft guns starting firing and a little later they got some 30 and 50 caliber machine guns set up and firing. Also they broke out a few BAR's and got them firing. I saw the old battleship Utah rolling over and men scrambling down the side. I could see the U.S.S. Raleigh firing away at aircraft. A Midget Submarine started to surface and we fired at it and one of our Destroyers was coming and he seemed to run right over it. Needless to say that all through this I was one nervous and scared individual. I smoked one whole package of cigarettes through the time of the attack.

There was a lull in the attack for awhile and then some high level bombers came over and bombed around our area. I guess by then they had hit the important targets and were going after the smaller ships. We had two near bomb hits that really rocked the ship. They told us later that we were credited with sinking one Midget Submarine and downing two airplanes.

After the attack we sent welders to the Oklahoma to help in releasing men. Some time later I was taken out of the 9th division and put on a motor whaleboat crew ferrying welders and divers around to some of the ships. I remember one day we took some welders and divers to the Oklahoma and while there I wandered around on the deck and noticed a dead body floating in one of the flooded compartments. A sight I will never forget.

James E. Murphey


2000 taskforce-17@msn.com